"Hannibal" bit off much more at the box office than anyone thought it could chew, opening to a record-setting $58 million.
The R-rated thriller presented by MGM and Universal in association with Dino De Laurentiis captured first place with a head-spinning estimated $58.0 million at 3,230 theaters ($17,800 per theater).
"It is far and away the biggest R-rated opening ever -- beating $42.3 million on 'Scary Movie' (which opened via Miramax's Dimension Films last July 7-9)," MGM worldwide distribution president Larry Gleason said Sunday morning.
"It's the third biggest three days of all time. It's behind the three days of 'Lost World: Jurassic Park,' but that was a four-day weekend. That was $72 million. The next one was 'Star Wars: Episode One' (which did $64.8 million via 20th Century Fox the weekend of May 21-23, 1999). That was a three-day weekend. So we came in number two as far as three day weekends are concerned. Spectacular."
"Hannibal" also went into the record books as the biggest non-summer opening ever and as MGM's biggest opening.
Gleason pointed out that "Hannibal" is also off and running very successfully abroad. "It opened in Italy and is doing the same (terrific) business there," he said. "It's going to do about seven billion lira, which is about 8% of the U.S. (business). It's just really amazing -- almost $4 million. So the first two places, the U.S. and Italy, are opening to these record breaking numbers."
Asked where "Hannibal" could wind up domestically having opened so well, Gleason replied, "Well over $200 million. I mean, it can't do worse than that. It looks like it could do half a billion dollars worldwide."
The film's success will impact on both MGM and Universal, which is distributing it abroad. "It's a co-production. We have domestic. They have international. And it all goes into a single pot, so we split all of the profits from both places. It's a big benefit to MGM because we have domestic. Look, Universal (which supervised the film during production) gave us something good to work with. They've taken our campaign (created by MGM worldwide marketing president Gerry Rich and his team) and they're using the campaign around the world. It's a great compliment to MGM that both the foreign distributors and UIP that's distributing in the rest of the (foreign territories) are using the same campaign."
The blockbuster opening for "Hannibal" kicks off a much more active year for MGM than the studio has seen in a long time. "We're going to have almost 20 films in 2001, which is the biggest since the early '80s as far as numbers," Gleason noted.
Insiders had anticipated a $35-40 million launch for "Hannibal" with $37.5 million being the most widely circulated projection around town. The most venturesome Hollywood handicappers were whispering that, maybe, it would hit $40-45 million. If anyone was thinking $55 million-plus, they kept the thought to themselves. Clearly, MGM's marketing efforts made it this weekend's must-see movie for audiences across the country.
"Hannibal" will wind up doing significantly more box office business than its 1991 predecessor film "The Silence of the Lambs." "Lambs" grossed $130.7 million in its domestic release via Orion Pictures and did about $142 million in international theaters.
"Silence" won Oscars for best picture, director (Jonathan Demme), actor (Anthony Hopkins), actress (Jodie Foster) and adapted screenplay (Ted Tally).
Not surprisingly, "Hannibal" had the highest per-theater average for any film playing last weekend. Its estimated $58 million in ticket sales represents about 47% of the weekend's estimated $122.4 million total for key films (those grossing $500,000 or more).
Directed by Ridley Scott and produced by Dino De Laurentiis, Martha De Laurentiis and Ridley Scott, "Hannibal" stars Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore. Its screenplay by David Mamet and Steven Zaillian is based on the novel by Thomas Harris.
Columbia and Intermedia Films' PG-13-rated romantic comedy "The Wedding Planner" fell one peg to second place in its third week with a still attractive estimated $7.8 million (-26%) at 2,726 theaters (-59 theaters; $2,861 per theater). Its cume is approximately $38.0 million.
"We had three of the top five," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning, pointing to Columbia's "Wedding" and "Saving Silverman" and Sony Pictures Classics' "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
"'Wedding Planner' had a great hold," Blake pointed out. "It just keeps getting better. I think we'll get a Valentine's Day boost and a holiday weekend boost. This is starting to look like (it will have a domestic theatrical gross of) $60 million rather than what was already a profitable $50 million."
Directed by Adam Shankman, "Planner" stars Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey.
Columbia's PG-13-rated comedy "Saving Silverman" from Village Roadshow Pictures in association with NPV Entertainment opened in third place to an okay estimated $7.4 million at 2,467 theaters ($3,000 per theater).
"'Saving Silverman' survived the onslaught (of 'Hannibal') pretty well," Sony's Blake said Sunday morning.
"It managed to do reasonably well in the face of such a huge opening. I think the long-term benefit for the picture is certainly there because hopefully we'll do close to the same next weekend with the holiday and it will certainly add up to another profitable picture for us. $22 million is what the picture cost, so I would certainly hope we'd have a chance to get to $30 million (in domestic theaters).
"We haven't necessarily made the headlines, but we've had a nice string of profitable pictures here with 'Wedding Planner,' 'Finding Forrester,' 'Snatch' and now 'Saving Silverman.' Hopefully, it'll keep going."
Directed by Dennis Dugan, "Silverman" stars Jason Biggs, Steve Zahn, Jack Black and Amanda Peet.
Sony Pictures Classics continued the very successful widening of its critically-acclaimed, PG-13-rated action adventure "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." "Tiger" rose one peg to fourth place in its 10th week with a still hot estimated $5.12 million (-25%) at 1,204 theaters (+41 theaters; $4,252 per theater). Its cume is approximately $60.1 million.
"Tiger," which won Golden Globes for best director (Ang Lee, who also received a DGA nomination) and best foreign language film, is considered a major contender for Oscar nominations when they are announced Tuesday morning (Feb. 13).
Directed by Ang Lee, "Dragon" stars Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat.
"We just surpassed one milestone," Sony Pictures Classics vice president, sales Tom Prassis said Sunday morning. "We broke the box office record for a foreign language film (beating Miramax's record of $57.6 million for 'Life Is Beautiful'). Now we're open for good things on Tuesday and we'll shoot for some more records."
Asked where "Tiger" could go in domestic theaters if it does as well Tuesday as some Hollywood handicappers think it will, Prassis replied, "I'd hate to speculate (but) the sky is the limit."
20th Century Fox's PG-13-rated drama "Cast Away" slid two rungs to fifth place in its eighth week with a still lively estimated $5.04 million (-33%) at 2,354 theaters (-292 theaters; $2,139 per theater). Its cume is approximately $209.7 million. "Tuesday (with its Oscar nominations) will be very important," Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said Sunday morning. "Without (anything happening for the picture on) Tuesday, it looks like $225 million, and with (some major nominations on) Tuesday -- can't tell!"
Directed by Robert Zemeckis, "Cast Away" stars Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt.
Paramount's PG-13-rated teen appeal drama "Save the Last Dance" from MTV Films dropped two slots to s xth place in its fifth week with a slower estimated $4.8 million (-33%) at 2,506 theaters (-64 theaters; $1,914 per theater). Its cume is approximately $74.5 million.
Directed by Thomas Carter, "Dance" stars Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas.
USA Films' R-rated Oscar contender drama "Traffic" fell one peg to seventh place in its seventh week with a still-promising estimated $4.43 million (-30%) at 1,740 theaters (+160 theaters; $2,545 per theater). Its cume is approximately $71.0 million.
"Traffic," which won Golden Globes for best screenplay (Stephen Gaghan) and best supporting actor (Benicio Del Toro), is considered a likely contender in the Oscar race. Its director, Steven Soderbergh, is a Directors Guild nominee for both "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich."
"We'll know better Tuesday, but we still have our sights set on the $90-100 million range with the right nominations," USA distribution president Jack Foley said Sunday morning.
"I'm going to try to add more prints this week, too. We added some prints this past week. I've got more theaters ready to go this week, and I think once we get the nominations under our belts, more exhibitors will come forth. I'd like to add as many (theaters) as I can."
Noting the importance of the upcoming Oscar nominations even in this weekend's ticket sales, Foley said, "Look at the top ten drops and then the drops below the top ten, and you'll see that the ones that are in play for the Academy are dropping in the 30%s for the weekend. Last year it was (only) in the 20%s and in the teens (but) 'Hannibal' cut into the market considerably. The others are (down) in the 40%s and more. So there is a bit of interest in the Academy stuff going on, and this week we should whittle down these drops even further."
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, "Traffic" stars Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Quaid and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow's R-rated horror film "Valentine" plunged sixth notches to eighth place in its second week with a calm estimated $3.82 million (-62%) at 2,310 theaters (theater count unchanged; $1,654 per theater). Its cume is approximately $15.8 million.
Directed by Jamie Blanks, "Valentine" stars Denise Richards, David Boreanaz, Marley Shelton and Katherine Heigl.
Miramax's PG-13-rated romantic comedy drama "Chocolat," a contender for Oscar nominations, rose one notch in its ninth week with an encouraging estimated $3.1 million (-15%) at 1,148 theaters (-25 theaters; $2,700 per theater). Its cume is approximately $26.6 million.
Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, "Chocolat" stars Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin and Johnny Depp.
Rounding out the Top Ten this week was Buena Vista/Touchstone's PG-13-rated dark comedy "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" up one rung in its eighth week with an okay estimated $3.0 million (-18%) at 835 theaters (+26 theaters; $3,593 per theater). Its cume is approximately $20.8 million.
Directed by Joel Coen and written by Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, it stars George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson and John Goodman.
OTHER OPENINGS There were no other significant openings this weekend.
SNEAK PREVIEWS There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
EXPANSIONS On the expansion front, this weekend saw no significant activity.
WEEKEND COMPARISONS Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the three days -- took in approximately $122.44 million, up about 43.88% from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $85.1 million.
This weekend's key film gross was up about 26.36% from the previous weekend this year when key films grossed $96.9 million.
Last year, Dimension Films' second week of "Scream 3" was first with $16.32 million at 3,467 theaters ($4,707 per theater); and 20th Century Fox's opening week of "The Beach" was second with $15.28 million at 2,547 theaters ($5,998 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $31.6 million. This year, the top two films grossed an estimated $65.8 million.
Jennifer Lopez's "The Cell" easily locked up first place at this weekend's box office.
The R-rated fantasy suspense thriller from New Line opened to a sexy ESTIMATED $17.2 million at 2,411 theaters ($7,134 per theater).
"Obviously, we're thrilled with the opening," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman said Sunday morning. "It shows that Jennifer Lopez is a star and can open a picture. Also, the two Vinces - Vaughn and D'Onofrio - were very strong, as they always are."
New Line clearly had perfect timing entering the summer marketplace with "Cell." "We picked the date at the beginning of this year," Tuckerman noted. "We've had great luck in August with our films (like 'Blade,' which opened to $17.1 million the weekend of Aug. 21-23, 1998). The picture itself is visually stunning and wildly inventive."
On the marketing front, Tuckerman applauded the campaign done by New Line marketing president Joe Nimziki and his team: "As usual, Joe found a way to sell the picture in unusual ways. We had three different one-sheets in the theaters (hanging side by side in many houses). That's the way they were laid out to be. Obviously, in some theaters you can't get that done. But, for the most part, the theater owners cooperated and did it where they could.
The trailer was spectacular, a great selling tool."
Directed by Tarsem, "Cell" stars Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn and Vincent D'Onofrio.
Paramount's R-rated Spike Lee documentary comedy "The Original Kings of Comedy" kicked off in second place with a hefty ESTIMATED $11.7 million at 847 theaters ($13,813 per theater). Its per-theater average was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
"This is great," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "Frankly, we were hoping to get a $10,000 per theater average, and we're about 33% better than that. That would have given us about $8.5 million. So we're very pleased."
Will Paramount go any wider with "Kings?" "Only strategically," Lewellen replied. "If there are some theaters in some of the urban markets that we didn't cover - I don't really think there's going to be that much - and, perhaps, some of the smaller markets. But it will not be a 200 or 300 print increase."
Directed by Spike Lee, "Kings" stars Steve Harvey, D. L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Bernie Mac.
Warner Bros. PG-13 sci-fi action adventure "Space Cowboys" fell one orbit in its third week to third place, holding well with an ESTIMATED $9.9 million (-24%) at 2,870 theaters (+35 theaters; $3,449 per theater). Its cume is approximately $54.2 million.
"I think it's going to go north of $80 million," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "It's great. The picture is exceeding the box office of 'Unforgiven,' and it's neck and neck with 'In the Line of Fire' (two prior Eastwood hits). Both of those movies did (over) $100 million."
Directed by Clint Eastwood, "Space" stars Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner and Donald Sutherland.
Warner Bros.' PG-13-rated football action comedy "The Replacements" lost one yard in its second week, placing fourth and holding nicely with an ESTIMATED $7.52 million (-28%) at 2,754 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,729 per theater). Its cume is approximately $23.7 million, heading for $50 million.
Directed by Howard Deutch, "Replacements" stars Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman.
DreamWorks PG-13-rated supernatural thriller "What Lies Beneath" rose one rung in its fifth week to fifth place with a still solid ESTIMATED $7.1 million (-28%) at 2,760 theaters (-165 theaters; $2,557 per theater). Its cume is approximately $123.7 million.
"Beneath" is a co-production of DreamWorks, which is releasing it domestically, and 20th Century Fox, which is distributing it internationally.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis, "Beneath" stars Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer.
The weekend's other high-profile, wide opening, Sony Pictures Releasing's launch via its TriStar label of Toho Pictures' "Godzilla 2000," missed the top ten. "Godzilla 2000" arrived in eleventh place to an ESTIMATED $4.6 million at 2,111 theaters ($2,179 per theater).
The film's modest opening looks better, however, considering the modest investment that Sony made to pick it up.
"Basically, it cost us $300,000 to acquire not only North America, but several other worldwide territories like Latin America and the U.K.," Sony Pictures Releasing president Jeff Blake explained Sunday morning. "This is a picture made a year ago that really had no plans to be theatrically released. We got it at a very cheap price and we spent modestly on prints and ads - under $10 million. So despite being eleventh, it's probably one of the more profitable pictures on the board this morning.
"We would certainly hope it could get to no worse than $12-15 million (in domestic theaters), which would be nothing but profit for us."
Universal and Imagine Entertainment's PG-13-rated comedy sequel "Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps" dropped one peg to sixth place in its fourth week with a less funny ESTIMATED $6.41 million (-37%) at 2,969 theaters (-282 theaters; $2,160 per theater). Its cume is approximately $104.4 million.
Directed by Peter Segal, it stars Eddie Murphy, Janet Jackson and Larry Miller.
Columbia's R-rated sci-fi thriller "Hollow Man" skidded six slots to seventh place in its third week with a less visible ESTIMATED $6.1 million (-53%) at 2,956 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,064 per theater). Its cume is approximately $61.7 million, heading for a domestic theatrical gross in the low $80 millions.
Directed by Paul Verhoeven, "Hollow" stars Elisabeth Shue and Kevin Bacon.
MGM's PG-13-rated romantic drama "Autumn in New York" began to fall after its strong opening without reviews one week earlier. "Autumn" dropped four rungs in its second week to eighth place with an ESTIMATED $5.7 million (-48%) at 2,282 theaters (+27 theaters; $2,498 per theater). Its cume is approximately $21.2 million.
Directed by Joan Chen, it stars Richard Gere and Winona Ryder.
Buena Vista/Touchstone's PG-13-rated romantic comedy "Coyote Ugly" dropped one notch in its third week to ninth place with a less attractive ESTIMATED $5.0 million (-37%) at 2,539 theaters (-125 theaters; $1,969 per theater). Its cume is approximately $43.8 million.
Directed by David McNally, "Coyote" stars Piper Perabo and Adam Garcia.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Paramount's R-rated supernatural thriller "Bless the Child," down three rungs in its second week with a calm ESTIMATED $4.9 million (-48%) at 2,521 theaters (-3 theaters; $1,944 per theater). Its cume is approximately $18.1 million.
Directed by Chuck Russell, "Child" stars Kim Basinger and Jimmy Smits.
Although DreamWorks' G-rated animated hit "Chicken Run" didn't place in the Top Ten, it enjoyed a milestone weekend. DreamWorks reported that it is now the studio's top grossing animated film, overtaking "Prince of Egypt."
"Chicken's" domestic theatrical cume is now $101.9 million. "Prince of Egypt" did $101.2 million in 1998.
Directed by Peter Lord & Nick Park, "Chicken" features such voices as Mel Gibson and Miranda Richardson.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Lions Gate Films' R-rated drama "Steal This Movie" in limited release, placing 25th with a quiet ESTIMATED $29,000 at 11 theaters ($2,585 per theater).
Directed by Robert Greenwald, it stars Vincent D'Onofrio, Janeane Garofalo and Jeanne Tripplehorn.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front this weekend, Fine Line Features' R-rated comedy "Saving Grace" widened in its third wee , placing 17th with an okay ESTIMATED $0.97 million at 255 theaters (+220 theaters; $3,800 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.9 million.
Directed by Nigel Cole, it stars Brenda Blethyn and Craig Ferguson.
Artisan Entertainment's R-rated dark comedy "Cecil B. Demented" expanded in its second week, placing 21st with a solid ESTIMATED $0.16 million (+28%) at 30 theaters (+21 theaters; $5,445 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.4 million.
Directed by John Waters, it stars Melanie Griffith and Stephen Dorff.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend -- took in approximately $96.83 million, down about 2.38% from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $99.18 million.
This weekend's key film gross was down about 4.64% from this year's previous weekend when key films grossed $101.54 million.
Last year, Buena Vista's third week of "The Sixth Sense" was first with $23.95 million at 2,688 theaters ($8,910 per theater); and Universal's second week of "Bowfinger" was second with $10.61 million at 2,717 theaters ($3,905 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $34.6 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $28.9 million.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES
Based on business by key films (those grossing $500,000 or more), last weekend's top six distributors were:
Warner Bros. was first with three films ("Space Cowboys," "The Perfect Storm" and "The Replacements"), grossing an ESTIMATED $19.35 million or 20.0% of the market.
New Line was second with one film ("The Cell"), grossing an ESTIMATED $17.2 million or 17.8% of the market.
Paramount was third with two films ("The Original Kings of Comedy" and "Bless the Child"), grossing an ESTIMATED $16.6 million or 17.1% of the market.
Sony Pictures Releasing (Columbia and TriStar) was fourth with three films ("Godzilla 2000," "The Hollow Man" and "The Patriot"), grossing an ESTIMATED $11.7 million or 12.1% of the market.
DreamWorks was fifth with two films("What Lies Beneath" and "Chicken Run"), grossing an ESTIMATED $8.06 million or 8.3% of the market.
Universal was sixth with one film ("Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps"), grossing an ESTIMATED $6.41 million or 6.6% of the market.
(12)X-Men/Fox: Theaters: 1,619 (-526) Gross: $2.55 million (-39%) Average per theater: $1,575 Cume: $148.6 million
(13)The Perfect Storm/Warner Bros.: Theaters: 1,417 (-521) Gross: $1.93 million (-30%) Average per theater: $1,362 Cume: $173.7 million
(14)Scary Movie/Miramax/Dimension: Theaters: 1,501 (-443) Gross: $1.4 million (-45%) Average per theater: $930 Cume: $147.5 million
(15)Disney's The Kid/Buena Vista/Disney: Theaters: 1,222 (-295) Gross: $1.3 million (-35%) Average per theater: $1,064 Cume: $64.5 million
(16)The Patriot/Columbia: Theaters: 842 (-410) Gross: $1.00 million (-31%) Average per theater: $1,188 Cume: $110.0 million
(17)Saving Grace/Fine Line: (See EXPANSIONS above)
(18)Chicken Run/DreamWorks: Theaters: 1,002 (-312) Gross: $0.96 million (-27%) Average per theater: $955 Cume: $101.9 million
(19)Thomas and the Magic Railroad/Destination Films: Theaters: 1,008 (-494) Gross: $0.6 million (-48%) Average per theater: $590 Cume: $14.6 million
(20)Pokemon: The Movie 2000/Warner Bros.: Theaters: 638 (-785) Gross: $0.4 million (-58%) Average per theater: $685 Cume: $41.8 million
(21)Cecil B. Demented/Artisan: (See EXPANSIONS above)
(22)Blood Simple/USA: Theaters: 61 (-6) Gross: $84,000 (-25%) Average per theater: $1,380 Cume: $1.3 million
(23)Wonderland/USA: Theaters: 25 (0) Gross: $45,000 (-31%) Average per theater: $1,780 Cume: $0.3 million
(24)Alice & Martin/USA: Theaters: 14 (+1) Gross: $41,000 (-20%) Average per theater: $2,964 Cume: $0.3 million
(25)STEAL THIS MOVIE/Lions Gate: (See OTHER OPENINGS above)