Paramount's "Mission: Impossible 2" took a predictably big second weekend drop, but held on to first place despite big competition from Fox's "Big Momma's House."
"M:I-2" escaped with an ESTIMATED $27 million (-53%) at 3,653 theaters (theater count unchanged; $7,355 per theater). The PG-13-rated action adventure sequel's cume is approximately $130.7 million.
The original "Mission" dropped 52% in its second weekend (May 31-June 2, 1996) and had a cume at that point of $107.2 million. The sequel's cume is running about 22% ahead of the original.
Paramount had anticipated a drop of 50-55% for "M:I-2's" second weekend, saying that was the range to expect after having just opened to blockbuster business for the four-day Memorial Day weekend.
"M:I-2" should wind up grossing $200-250 million in domestic theaters and $300-350 million in international theaters. Its worldwide cume should total $500-600 million. The first "Mission" did $181 million domestically and $284 million internationally for a worldwide cume of $465 million.
Directed by John Woo, "M:I-2" was produced by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner through their Cruise/Wagner production company, which also produced the 1996 blockbuster "Mission: Impossible." Besides Cruise, the sequel stars Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton, Richard Roxburgh, John Polson, Brendan Gleeson, Rade Sherbedgia and Ving Rhames. It was written by Robert Towne and executive produced by Terence Chang and Paul Hitchcock.
(NOTE: Today's percentage drops are calculated against the Friday-Sunday portion of the previous four-day holiday weekend.)
The weekend's big story, however, was 20th Century Fox's PG-13 comedy "Big Momma's House."
"Momma," this weekend's only wide opening, was a hefty second with a full-figured ESTIMATED $25.6 million at 2,802 houses ($9,136 per theater). Insiders said Fox's decision to go for a PG-13 rather than an R rating was a key factor in achieving its solid success.
"Momma's" per-theater average was the highest for any film playing in wide or limited release this weekend.
"Momma" out-performed industry expectations that it would gross around $20 million given its strong tracking scores going into the weekend. Insiders said late last week that the film had 83% awareness and 43% definite interest and was a 13% overall first choice and a 59% first choice for African-Americans.
"In the immortal words of Bobby Carradine in 'Revenge of the Nerds II' - 'We're back,'" a very pleased Tom Sherak, 20th Domestic Film Group chairman and senior executive vice president of Fox Filmed Entertainment, said Sunday morning.
"For us, it's the beginning of what we think will be a big summer. We have (the animated sci-fi feature) 'Titan A.E.' next and then 'Me, Myself & Irene' (starring Jim Carrey and directed by Bobby & Peter Farrelly) and then 'X-Men' (based on the best-selling sci-fi/fantasy comic book) and then 'Bedazzled' (directed by Harold Ramis and starring Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley). This couldn't start the summer off better."
Sherak said Fox's exit poll scores "were incredible. Excellent was 60%, very good was 28% -- 88% in the Top Two Boxes. Definite recommend was 80% overall." Young males, he added, gave it a definite recommend of over 90%.
Who was "Momma's" core audience? "The core audience was young females - 58% of the audience was under 25 and 60% was female," Sherak replied. "It played huge urban and very good white. You see it crossing over already. There's no color in this. The small little markets did what the small little markets normally do. But the theaters that cross over were huge. When you get to totally white America, the numbers aren't as good, but they're okay."
Emphasizing that the film has good playability for a broad audience, Sherak added, "The critics missed this one. Let's keep a record of how they're doing."
Directed by Raja Gosnell, it stars Martin Lawrence and Nia Long.
Buena Vista/Disney's PG-rated computer animated feature "Dinosaur" took one step down to third place in its third weekend with a less bulky ESTIMATED $12.0 million (-52%) at 3,319 theaters (+17 theaters; $3,616 per theater). Its cume is approximately $96.8 million, heading for $170 million-plus in domestic theaters.
Directed by Ralph Zondag and Eric Leighton, "Dinosaur" features such voices as D.B. Sweeney, Ossie Davis, Joan Plowright, Della Reese and Alfre Woodard.
Buena Vista/Touchstone and Spyglass Entertainment's PG-13-rated action comedy "Shanghai Noon" fell one rung to fourth place in its second weekend with a less happy ESTIMATED $8.6 million (-45%) at 2,745 theaters (+34 theaters; $3,133 per theater). Its cume is approximately $31.9 million.
Directed by Tom Dey, it stars Jackie Chan, Owen C. Wilson and Lucy Liu.
DreamWorks' R-rated action adventure "Gladiator" slipped one notch to fifth place in its sixth week, still fighting hard with an ESTIMATED $8.1 million (-40%) at 3,056 theaters (-132 theaters; $2,651 per theater). Its cume is approximately $138.7 million, heading for $175-200 million in domestic theaters.
"Gladiator's" 40% drop was the lowest for any film in this weekend's Top Five.
"Gladiator" is half owned by Universal, which is releasing it internationally.
Directed by Ridley Scott, it stars Russell Crowe.
DreamWorks' R-rated youth appeal comedy "Road Trip" finished sixth, down one peg in its third week but showing good legs with an ESTIMATED $6.7 million (-39%) at 2,654 theaters (+23 theaters; $2,524 per theater). Its cume is approximately $45.5 million.
Directed by Todd Philips, it stars Breckin Meyer and Sean William Scott.
New Line's "Frequency" held on to seventh place in its sixth week, continuing to show terrific legs with an ESTIMATED $2.1 million (-27%) at 1,605 theaters (-198 theaters; $1,293 per theater). Its cume is approximately $38.0 million, heading for about $45 million in domestic theatres.
Directed by Gregory Hoblit, it stars Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel.
"Every week, it's had minimal drops," New Line distribution head David Tuckerman said Sunday morning. "The picture's actually doing exactly what we thought it would do - once we got it in the marketplace, word of mouth would carry it."
DreamWorks' Woody Allen PG-rated comedy "Small Time Crooks" dropped two rungs to eighth place in its third week, still holding well with an ESTIMATED $1.7 million (-45%) at 874 theaters (+45 theaters; $1,945 per theater). Its cume is approximately $11.2 million.
Written and directed by Woody Allen, it stars Allen, Tony Darrow, Hugh Grant, George Grizzard, Jon Lovitz, Elaine May, Michael Rapaport, Elaine Stritch and Tracey Ullman.
"U-571," Universal's PG-13 World War II submarine drama, descended one notch to ninth place in its seventh week with a quiet ESTIMATED $1.42 million (-45%) at 1,591 theaters (-453 theaters; $892 per theater). Its cume is approximately $71.0 million, heading for about $75 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Jonathan Mostow, "U-571" stars Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel and Jon Bon Jovi.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Columbia's PG-13-rated youth appeal dance film "Center Stage," down one slot in its fourth weekend with a calm ESTIMATED $1.1 million (-49%) at 1,362 theaters (-144 theaters; $808 per theater). Its cume is approximately $14.4 million.
Directed by Nicholas Hytner, it stars Amanda Schull, Zoe Saldana, Susan May Pratt, Peter Gallagher, Donna Murphy and Ethan Stiefel.
Columbia's G-rated family drama "Running Free" opened in 21st place to a slow ESTIMATED $0.055 million at 100 theaters ($545 per theater).
Directed by S rgei Bodrov, it stars Chase Moore.
This weekend saw no national sneak previews.
On the expansion front, Miramax's R-rated comedy "East Is East" added a few more theaters in its eighth week, placing 17th with a quiet ESTIMATED $0.25 million at 157 theaters (+3 theaters; $1,575 per theater). Its cume is approximately $2.4 million.
Produced by Leslee Udwin and directed by Damien O'Donnell, "East" stars Om Puri and Linda Bassett.
USA Films' PG-13-rated drama "Up At The Villa" went a little wider in its fifth week, placing 18th with a dull ESTIMATED $0.19 million (-18%) at 112 theaters (+4 theaters; $1,685 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.8 million.
Directed by Philip Haas, it stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Sean Penn, James Fox, Derek Jacobi and Anne Bancroft.
Paramount Classics' PG-13-rated drama "Passion of Mind" went wider in its second week, placing 20th with a weak ESTIMATED $0.099 million (-47%) at 122 theaters (+18 theaters; $815 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.4 million.
Directed by Alain Berliner, it stars Demi Moore.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend -- took in approximately $96.89 million, up about 19.86% from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $80.83 million for four days.
This weekend's key film gross for three days cannot be compared to this year's previous weekend, which was a four day holiday weekend.
Last year, 20th Century Fox's third week of "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace - Episode One" was first with $32.89 million at 3,024 theaters ($10,877 per theater); and Universal's second week of "Notting Hill" was second with $15.01 million at 2,752 theaters ($5,455 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $47.9 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $52.6 million.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES
Based on business by key films (those grossing $500,000 or more), last weekend's top six distributors were:
Paramount was first with two films ("Mission: Impossible 2 and "Rules of Engagement," grossing an ESTIMATED $27.51 million or 28.4% of the market.
20th Century Fox was second with two films ("Big Momma's House" and "Where the Heart Is"), grossing an ESTIMATED $26.6 million or 27.5% of the market.
Buena Vista (Disney and Touchstone) was third with two films("Dinosaur" and "Shanghai Noon"), grossing an ESTIMATED $20.6 million or 21.3% of the market.
DreamWorks was fourth with three films ("Gladiator," "Road Trip" and "Small Time Crooks"), grossing an ESTIMATED $16.5 million or 17.0% of the market.
Universal was fifth with three films ("U-571," "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" and "Erin Brockovich"), grossing an ESTIMATED $2.48 million or 2.6% of the market.
New Line was sixth with one film ("Frequency"), grossing an ESTIMATED $2.1 million or 2.2% of the market.
(11)Where the Heart Is/Fox: Theaters: 1,087 (-281) Gross: $1.0 million (-37%) Average per theater: $920 Cume: $30.1 million
(12)Erin Brockovich/Universal: Theaters: 736 (-62) Gross: $0.55 million (-36%) Average per theater: $750 Cume: $122.3 million
(13)Rules of Engagement/Paramount: Theaters: 555 (-238) Gross: $0.51 million (-15%) Average per theater: $920 Cume: $60.2 million
(14)The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas/Universal: Theaters: 1,105 (-386) Gross: $0.50 million (-60%) Average per theater: $455 Cume: $30.9 million
(15)Love & Basketball/New Line: Theaters: 450 (-90) Gross: $0.4 million (-49%) Average per theater: $889 Cume: $26.0 million
(16)Battlefield Earth/Warner Bros./Franchise Pictures: Theaters: 641 (-1,946) Gross: $0.25 million (-70%) Average per theater: $390 Cume: $20.9 million
(17)East Is East/Miramax: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(18)Up at the Villa/USA Films: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(19)Screwed/Universal: Theaters: 242 (-561) Gross: $0.1 million (-70%) Average per theater: $415 Cume: $7.0 million
(20)Passion Of Mind/Paramount Classics: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(21)RUNNING FREE/Columbia: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 9, 2000 -- So he got to shoot on an island off Thailand for months, flying friends in for visits and soaking up an island paradise. But Leonardo DiCaprio, star of "The Beach," has one little quibble.
Says Leo to the British magazine The Face, "It truly bothered me ... that [Richard, DiCaprio's character] never had any kind of sexual contact with Francoise," a stunning Frenchwoman played by Virginie Ledoyen, with whom he does a little smooching and frolicking in the surf.
"The constant foreplay between the two characters never amounted to anything," the 25-year-old DiCaprio says. "And I really wanted something, whether it be complete and utter rejection or some sort of wild sexual encounter. ... It just had to happen." Well, it just goes to show that even the King of the World can't have it all.
SCANDAL SHEET: Vanity Fair's 13-page article this month has revived controversy over Natalie Wood's mysterious 1981 drowning by suggesting that she and husband Robert Wagner argued on the night of her death.
The story, written by Sam Kashner, says previously unpublished police records appear to contradict statements that there was no fight between Wood and Wagner that night. The report features a new interview with Christopher Walken, who says he and the couple had been drinking on the night of Nov. 28, 1981, and had a conversation in which "you put all your cards on the table." The confessionals snowballed into a marital argument, and Walken "stepped outside for some air" and when he returned, everyone was apologizing and everything seemed fine. Wagner says it was a political discussion.
Wood, 43, was found drowned wearing a nightgown, socks and a jacket after apparently trying to leave her yacht off Catalina Island in California to board an inflatable dinghy. Her death was ruled an accident.
DAS FESTIVAL: In Germany, the 50th Berlin Film Festival kicked off today with a screening of "The Million Dollar Hotel," starring Mel Gibson and Jeremy Davies and co-written by U2 frontman Bono.
In the fest's coming days, French actress Jeanne Moreau, who recently did a diva walk-off during a planned guest appearance on "ER," will receive a special homage, as will Robert De Niro.
Other stars to raid Berlin: George Clooney and Ice Cube, on hand to promote "Three Kings" and the aforementioned Leo, a possible for "The Beach."
HONORS: Legendary writer/director Billy Wilder, who fled Nazi Europe in the 1930s for France (and later the United States), will receive the Federal Republic of Germany's Knight Commander's Cross (badge and star) on March 10. The 93-year-old Wilder is also to be honored by the Producers Guild on March 2 at Los Angeles' Century Plaza on the occasion of his "Some Like it Hot" joining the guild's landmark movie list ...
... Blake Edwards will receive the Art Directors Guild's Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award on Feb. 26 at the Beverly Hilton. The 77-year-old director-writer-producer, who is married to Julie Andrews, is the director of films such as "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "Days of Wine and Roses" and eight "Pink Panther" movies ...
... The U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, running today through Sunday in Aspen, Colo., will honor funnyman Robin Williams with its American Film Institute Star Award. Also on the docket: Baltimore-loving director Barry Levinson receiving the AFI Filmmaker Award and career tributes for Jerry Lewis, Mike Nichols and Elaine May.
QUICK TAKES: Martin Lawrence's cop comedy "Big Momma's House" is getting an early move-in date, says The Hollywood Reporter. Twentieth Century Fox is moving the film's release up from October to June 2. It was originally moved to fall after Lawrence was hospitalized Aug. 22 from heat stroke after jogging under heavy clothing in 100 degree heat. He fell into a coma but emerged after three days and began production on the film ...
... James Coburn will join the ranks of presenters at this year's Academy Awards on March 26 at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium. Coburn won a Best Supporting Actor statue last year for "Affliction," and, as tradition dictates, will likely present this year's Best Supporting Actress award ...
... And if you turn to the Grammys this year, you'll see the following artists perform (no, not together): The Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill, Whitney Houston, Kid Rock, Britney Spears, Santana, the Backstreet Boys, TLC and Ricky Martin. The Grammys air Feb. 23 on CBS.
LOVE LINES: In honor of the upcoming Valentine's Day, we give you the skinny on how to kiss Woody Allen -- straight from the lips of his "Mighty Aphrodite" co-star, Helena Bonham Carter.
"He tells you up front certain ways of kissing, he does not want,'' Bonham Carter tells the UK Sun. "No exchange of liquid is permitted."
As if that weren't enough info, Bonham Carter adds: "There's absolutely no tongue encounter. ... It can be a bit offensive because he makes no effort at all. But he does warn you, and says everyone gets the same treatment. His mouth is a no-go area. It's like kissing the Berlin Wall, really."
Somebody get the Listerine.