Planet of the Apes proved to be the 400 pound box office gorilla insiders anticipated, opening to nearly $70 million.
20th Century Fox's PG-13 sci-fi action adventure inspired by the studio's 1968 classic of the same name landed in first place with an out of this world record setting ESTIMATED $69.55 million at 3,500 theaters ($19,871 per theater).
Apes' average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide or limited release this weekend.
Directed by Tim Burton and produced by Richard D. Zanuck, it stars Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter and Michael Clarke Duncan.
"This is as good as it gets," Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said Sunday morning. "It's the best non-holiday weekend opening ever. Mummy Returns had that position at $68.139 million and we're going to blow past that with $69.55 million. It's the second best weekend (of any type) ever. Lost World: Jurassic Park's three day -- they had a four day of $90 million -- was $72.132 million. So we are the highest non-holiday and the second highest (for any weekend)."
An indication of the enormous expectations theater owners had for the film is that its theater count continued to rise right down to the wire. With a count of 3,494 theaters going into the weekend, Snyder said that as of Sunday morning, "It's actually 3,499. Call me crazy -- I'm calling it 3,500 now! They kept adding them. I swear, every time I saw (the total) it was like, here's another one."
Looking back, Snyder noted, "The original Apes from which the whole franchise sprang did $32.5 million (in its domestic theatrical run). I think we had that by noon yesterday!"
Asked why the new Apes has worked so well, Snyder replied "I think it's the concept. We're somewhat older audience-wise, so this isn't just about being driven by kids. This is being driven by you and I and 35-year-olds. Sixty-two percent (of those on hand opening weekend) were over 25 years of age. So we've still got some young people to get, which is terrific. That really bodes well."
Snyder did not have detailed exit poll data in hand yet early Sunday morning, but said, "I've just gotten it read to me over the phone and it played fabulously. It's a people picture."
Faced with the arrival of Apes, Universal and Amblin Entertainment's PG-13 rated action adventure fantasy sequel Jurassic Park III took a predictably sharp drop second weekend drop, falling one peg to second place with a still larger than life ESTIMATED $22.49 million (-56 percent) at 3,439 theaters (+5 theaters; $6,540 per theater). Its cume is approximately $124.8 million, heading for $175-200 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Joe Johnston, JP III stars Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter, John Diehl and Bruce A. Young.
Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures' PG-13 rated romantic comedy America's Sweethearts slid one slot to third place in its second week with a still attractive ESTIMATED $15.7 million (-48 percent) at 3,011 theaters (theater count unchanged; $5,214 per theater). Its cume is approximately $59.4 million.
Directed by Joe Roth, it stars Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal, Catherine Zeta-Jones and John Cusack.
"Listen, in today's world down 48 percent is above average," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning.
"We certainly would hope even better holds lay ahead. We have survived against two of the biggest openings in history (with Jurassic III and Apes) in the last two weeks. While Rush Hour 2 lays ahead, it's pretty different (in terms of core audience) and we would hope for even better holds ahead. But off a $30 million opening and what's been going on this summer (in terms of second weekend drops in the 50 percents), this is not bad at all. I think this still points us towards $100 million and that would be a very nice target to aim at."
MGM's PG-13 rated comedy hit Legally Blonde fell two rungs to fourth in its third week, still showing good legs with an ESTIMATED $9.0 million (-19 percent) at 2,725 theaters (+30 theaters; $3,304 per theater).
Blonde, which cost only $18 million to produce,has a cume of approximately $59.8 million and is on its way to a very profitable $75-80 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Robert Luketic, the Marc Platt production stars Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber and Jennifer Coolidge with a special appearance by Raquel Welch.
Paramount's R rated crime drama The Score dropped two notches to fifth place in its third week with an okay ESTIMATED $7.3 million (-32 percent) at 2,211 theaters (+51 theaters; $3,305 per theater). Its cume is approximately $49.4 million.
Directed by Frank Oz, it stars Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Angela Bassett and Marlon Brando.
Cats & Dogs, the PG rated family appeal comedy from Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment, fell one peg to sixth place in its fourth week with a calm ESTIMATED $4.52 million (-34 percent) at 2,816 theaters (-224 theaters; $1,603 per theater). Its cume is approximately $81.5 million, heading for $100 million in domestic theaters.
20th Century Fox and Davis Entertainment's PG rated comedy sequel Dr. Dolittle 2 rose one notch to seventh place in its sixth week, holding very well with an ESTIMATED $4.18 million (-13 percent) at 2,190 theaters (-244 theaters; $1,906 per theater). Its cume is approximately $100.8 million, heading for $110 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Steve Carr and produced by John Davis, it stars Eddie Murphy.
"We have a second piece of good news," Fox's Bruce Snyder said Sunday morning after talking about the studio's success with Apes. "Dr. Dolittle hit $100 million this weekend. It and Shrek were the only movies that were impervious to the [huge Apes] opening. We were only off 13 percent. I think we should scratch to $110 million."
Universal's PG-13 action drama The Fast and the Furious dipped two rungs to eighth place in its sixth week, still holding well with an ESTIMATED $3.78 million (-29 percent) at 2,415 theaters (-317 theaters; $1,565 per theater). Fast, which cost a modest $38 million, has a cume of approximately $132.2 million.
Directed by Rob Cohen and produced by Neal H. Moritz, it stars Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster.
Dimension Films' R rated horror film spoof sequel Scary Movie 2 fell two rungs to ninth place in its fourth week with a quiet ESTIMATED $2.6 million (-43 percent) at 2,179 theaters (-623 theaters; $1,193 per theater). Its cume is approximately $67.0 million, heading for $70 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans, it stars Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Christopher Masterson and Kathleen Robertson.
Rounding out the Top Ten was DreamWorks' PG rated computer animated blockbuster Shrek, up one notch in its 11th week and still showing good legs with an ESTIMATED $1.7 million (-24 percent) at 1,439 theaters (-112 theaters; $1,209 per theater). Its cume is approximately $255.5 million on its way to $260 million or more.
Directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, its voice talents include Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow.
This weekend also saw the arrival of USA Films' R rated comedy Wet Hot American Summer with a hopeful ESTIMATED $0.021 million at 2 theaters ($10,397 per theater).
Directed by David Wain, it stars Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce.
Buena Vista/Disney held very well attended sneak previews at 1,150 theaters this weekend of its G rated family appeal comedy The Princess Diaries.
Directed by Garry Marshall, it stars Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway.
Disney said Sunday morning that 45 percent of the theaters were sold out and the rest played to 80-90 percent of capacity. Those on hand covered the entire age spectrum and scored the film 91 percent in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good.)
Diaries opens wide this Friday (Aug. 3).
On the expansion front, this weekend saw Artisan's R rated comedy Made widen in its third week with a still encouraging ESTIMATED $0.63 million at 195 theaters (+86 theaters; $6,005 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.3 million.
Written and directed by Jon Favreau, it stars Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Sean Combs, Famke Janssen, Faizon Love and Peter Falk.
Miramax's R rated French comedy The Closet went wider in its fifth week with an okay ESTIMATED $0.37 million (+9 percent) at 98 theaters (+33 theaters; $3,775 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.8 million.
Directed by Francis Veber, it stars Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardieu, Thierry Lhermitte and Michele Laroque.
Fox Searchlight's R rated critically acclaimed British crime thriller Sexy Beast added a few theaters in its seventh week, still holding well with an ESTIMATED $0.34 million (-17 percent) at 193 theaters (+5 theaters; $1,780 per theater). Its cume is approximately $5.1 million.
Directed by Jonathan Glazer, it stars Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley.
Lions Gate Films' PG-13 rated drama Songcatcher continued to widen in its seventh week with a soft ESTIMATED $0.18 million (-19 percent) at 104 theaters (+13 theaters; $1,750 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.6 million.
Directed by Maggie Greenwald, it stars Janet McTeer and Aidan Quinn.
MGM's release of United Artists' R rated youth appeal comedy Ghost World widened in its second week with a lively ESTIMATED $0.13 million (+29 percent) at 8 theaters (+3 theaters; $16,000 per theater) in Los Angeles, New York and Seattle. Its cume is approximately $0.3 million.
Directed by Terry Zwigoff, it stars Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Renfro, Illeana Douglas and Steve Buscemi.
MGM said that this Friday (Aug. 3) Ghost will add 7 more markets and 14 theaters, bringing its total for the weekend to 22 theaters and 10 markets.
Fine Line Features' R rated rock musical drama Hedwig and the Angry Inch added a few theaters in its second week with a still hopeful ESTIMATED $0.11 million (-30 percent) at 11 theaters (+2 theaters; $9,924 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.4 million.
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell, who also wrote adapted his hit Off-Broadway play to the screen, Hedwig stars Mitchell in its title role.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $148.47 million, up about 18.04 percent from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $125.78 million.
This weekend's key film gross was up about 5.86 percent from last weekend this year when key films took in $140.24 million.
Last year, Universal's opening week of Nutty Professor II: The Klumps was first with $42.52 million at 3,242 theaters ($13,115 per theater); and DreamWorks' second week of What Lies Beneath was second with $22.86 million at 2,825 theaters ($8,093 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $65.4 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $92.1 million.
Moviegoers fell in love with "Heartbreakers" this weekend, giving MGM its second straight first place opening this year.
The PG-13-rated romantic comedy from MGM and Davis Entertainment captured the top spot with a frisky estimated $12.3 million at 2,750 theaters ($4,468 per theater).
Directed by David Mirkin, "Heartbreakers" stars Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Gene Hackman.
"Two in a row," MGM worldwide distribution president Larry Gleason said Sunday morning, referring to the studio's Number One openings for "Hannibal" in February and now "Heartbreakers." "The last time (MGM had two consecutive first place openings) was 1995 with 'Get Shorty' and 'GoldenEye,' which were back to back pictures. The Lion is back again!
"This is right where we wanted ('Heartbreakers') to be. We're happy for it. The plan that we had of aggressively screening this picture (with sneak previews two consecutive Saturday nights) and showing that it was fun also helped us get an audience that's a little bit younger. Jennifer Love Hewitt was a key to that. The fact that we have her in this movie has enabled us to get more young people in."
Looking at the film's audience composition, Gleason noted it was, "60-40 female-male. It got a 68% definite
recommend against a norm of 50% and that's great. It was pretty evenly older women-younger women, males were a
little bit lighter. The Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good) are 83%. It bodes well for the future."
Sony's Screen Gems division opened its R-rated urban appeal comedy "The Brothers" in second place with a
muscular estimated $10.7 million at 1,378 theaters ($7,765 per theater).
"Brothers" had the highest per-theater average for any film playing in wide release last weekend.
Written and directed by Gary Hardwick, "Brothers" stars Morris Chestnut, D.L. Hughley, Bill Bellamy and Shemar Moore.
"This is a very focused release with half the prints of the other top pictures this week and has an incredibly strong screen average," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning. "It has an A CinemaScore, which really makes you believe that those 1,378 runs are going to be playing for a long time."
"Brothers" should be nicely profitable for Sony. "It's a $6 million negative," Blake said. "We always had our eye on Universal's release of 'Best Man,' which was similar certainly (in being an) African-American romantic comedy. They opened Oct. 22, 1999, in 1,346 screens to $9,031,660 and did $34.1 million. So we always have had our eye on that one, and the fact that we've beat it pretty significantly really gives us hope that this is definitely a picture we can get into the mid-$30 millions or $40 millions. At a $6 million cost, that's a terrific piece of business."
Sony's Screen Gems label, he said, "is really on a bit of a roll here after 'Snatch.' Their next release is (the horror genre drama) 'The Foresaken' on April 27 (directed by J.S. Cardone and starring Kerr Smith and Brendan Fehr), and then they have 'John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars' (directed by Carpenter and starring Ice Cube, Jason Statham and Natasha Henstridge) this summer. It's a very wonderful, focused marketing job by the Screen Gems group. You can give the credit to Valerie Van Galder, who's the head of marketing, and Clint Culpepper, who's the head of production. They really teamed up for a good one here."
Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures' R-rated action drama "Exit Wounds" slid two pegs to third place in its second week with a less-penetrating estimated $9.23 million (-50%) at 2,830 theaters (theater count unchanged; $3,260 per theater). Its cume is approximately $32.6 million.
Directed by Andrez Bartkowiak, "Exit" was produced by Joel Silver and Dan Cracchiolo. It stars Steven Seagal and DMX and was executive produced by Bruce Berman.
Paramount's R-rated World War II drama "Enemy at the Gates" from Mandalay Pictures added theaters in its second week but still fell two rungs to fourth place with a quieter estimated $8.4 million (-39%) at 1,677 theaters (+168 theaters; $5,009 per theater). Its cume is approximately $26.2 million.
Produced and directed by Jean-Jacques Annuad, "Enemy" stars Joseph Fiennes, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Bob Hoskins and Ed Harris.
"I was a little disappointed in the Friday figure, but Saturday came back real strong. We were down 29% on
Saturday, and I'm figuring about 40% today (Sunday) because the Academy Awards will impact us a little more than it will some of the other films, (because 'Enemy' is) more adult and a little more upscale," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning.
Sony Pictures Classics' Oscar-contending, PG-13-rated action adventure "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" rose one peg to fifth place in its 16th week, still basking in the glow of its 10 Oscar nominations with an estimated $4.65 million (+15%) at 2,027 theaters (+167 theaters; $2,295 per theater). Its cume is approximately $106.3 million.
"Tiger's" nominations include Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Director. Director Ang Lee won the Directors Guild of America's award and is favored to win the Best Director Oscar.
Directed by Ang Lee, "Dragon" stars Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat.
Asked where "Tiger" goes from here, Sony Pictures Classics sales vice president Tom Prassis said Sunday morning, "We'll know tonight. I have a goal in mind if it wins, but I'm not going to tell you what that is. It's a significant number."
Have the nominations been a big help to "Tiger" at the box office? "They have," Prassis replied, "but I think the film has really done it on its own, as well. I'm not sure if it would have done $100 million (without its Oscar attention). But there are people who are going to see it over and over again. A lot of them are kids, and those aren't the people who pay attention to the Academy Awards. Right now we're reaching the people of my generation, who do follow the awards, I think more than before. That's who we're going after now. There's a lot of them."
DreamWorks' R-rated drama "The Mexican" skidded three notches to sixth place in its fourth week with a dull estimated $4.3 million (-46%) at 3,043 theaters (-119 theaters; $1,419 per theater). Its cume is approximately $57.7 million.
Directed by Gore Verbinski, "Mexican" stars Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts.
USA Films' R-rated, Oscar-contending drama "Traffic" rose three pegs to seventh place in its 13th week, still making the most of the Oscar nominations spotlight with an estimated $3.9 million (+14%) at 1,684 theaters (+2 theaters; $2,320 per theater). Its cume is approximately $107.6 million, heading for about $120 million if it does not win Best Picture and about $140 million if it does.
"Traffic" is nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, "Traffic" stars Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Quaid and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Miramax's PG-13-rated, Oscar-contending romantic comedy drama "Chocolat," which was ninth last week, tied for eighth place in its 15th week, still holding very well on the eve of the Oscars with an estimated $3.3 million (-4%) at 1,781 theaters (-120 theaters; $1,852 per theater). Its cume is approximately $60.6 million.
"Chocolat" is nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture.
"It'll probably work its way to just about $70 million," Miramax senior vice president, marketing David Kaminow
said Sunday morning of the film, which only cost around $15 million. "This is definitely a profitable situation."
Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, "Chocolat" stars Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin and Johnny Depp.
Warner Bros.' G-rated family appeal comedy "See Spot Run" from Village Roadshow Pictures, which was fourth last week, tied for eighth place in its fourth week with a slower estimated $3.3 million (-33%) at 2,605 theaters (-51 theaters; $1,282 per theater). Its cume is approximately $29.2 million, heading for $40 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by John Whitesel, "Run" stars David Arquette.
Rounding out the Top Ten was 20th Century Fox's opening of "Say It Isn't So" with a disappointing estimated $3.1 million at 1,973 theaters ($1,572 per theater).
Directed by J.B. Rogers, "Say" stars Heather Graham and Chris Klein.
There were no other noteworthy openings this weekend.
20th Century Fox held 189 sneak previews Saturday night of Fox 2000's PG-13-rated comedy "Someone Like You." The film opens March 30 at about 2,000 theaters.
"The reports I've gotten back are fabulous," Fox domestic distribution president Bruce Snyder said early
Sunday morning as he was starting to get details about the sneaks. "All the reports so far are sell-outs. I haven't
gotten all of them in, but they're very encouraging, very pleasing. It played wonderfully. It's a date night movie."
Directed by Tony Goldwyn, "Someone Like You" stars Ashley Judd, Greg Kinnear and Hugh Jackman.
On the expansion front, this weekend saw Sony Pictures Classics go wider with its R-rated drama "Pollock" in its seventh week, grossing a still colorful estimated $0.85 million (+13%) at 271 theaters (+42 theaters; $3,119 per theater). Its cume is approximately $4.9 million.
"Pollock" received Oscar
nominations for Best Actor (Ed Harris)
and Best Supporting Actress (Marcia Gay Harden).
Directed by Ed Harris, "Pollock"
stars Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden.
"Very respectable. In an ordinary year, this would be a big film (for the company)," Sony Pictures Classics sales vice president Tom Prassis said Sunday morning, after discussing the blockbuster success of "Crouching Tiger."
Newmarket's R-rated film noir thriller "Memento" added a theater in its second week and continued to look very promising with an estimated $0.24 million (even) at 12 theaters (+1 theater; $19,627 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.6 million.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, it stars Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano.
USA Films' R-rated reality TV satire "Series 7" added a theater in its fourth week with a slow estimated $0.026 million (-28%) at 11 theaters (+1 theater; $2,320 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.15 million.
Written and directed by Daniel Minahan, "Series" stars Brooke Smith, Glenn Fitzgerald, Mary Louise Burke, Richard Venture, Michael Kaycheck and Merrit Wever.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $76.40 million, down about 3.98% from
the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $79.57 million.
This weekend's key film gross was down about 2.48% from last weekend this year when key films did $78.34 million.
Last year, Universal's second week of "Erin Brockovich" was first with $18.55 million at 2,851 theaters ($6,505 per theater); and Warner Bros.' opening week of "Romeo Must Die" was second with $18.01 million at 2,641 theaters ($6,821 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $36.5 illion. This year, the top two films grossed an estimated $23.0 million.
Loosely interwoven plotlines about five characters representing the human senses: A magic-fingered massage therapist (Gabrielle Rose); a bespectacled teenage voyeur (Nadia Litz); a cake baker whose taste in men gets her into trouble (Mary-Louise Parker); a music-loving Frenchman who is losing his hearing (Philippe Volter); and a bisexual house cleaner who says his sensitive shnozz can sniff true love (Daniel MacIvor). Tying the stories together -- sort of -- is the search for a lost young girl in the vicinity.
The terrific ensemble of mostly Canadian actors doesn't have a weak link. Playwright/performance artist MacIvor and Hollywood import Parker break up the picture's melancholy tone with much-needed moments of sarcastic humor. Veteran French thespian Volter gives a complex nuanced performance as a somewhat self-involved eye doctor whose impending deafness eventually generates real pathos.
Writer-producer-director Jeremy Podeswa has mixed success executing this abstract thematically ambitious work. Visually he and cinematographer Gregory Middleton serve up a true feast for the senses -- light streaming into imaginatively decorated rooms close-ups of objects so finely textured you want to reach out and grab them. On the narrative level the director has difficulty maintaining dramatic tension while intercutting between the several independent storylines.