Even though the pickings were slim at the box office this weekend, scary movies continued to be all the rage, with Jeepers Creepers 2 leading the top 12 films to a record-breaking $101 million weekend haul, beating the 2001 Labor Day record of $94 million.
With a four-day total of $18.5 million*, horror sequel Creepers 2--about a wily, winged monster who feeds on hapless teenagers--far outshined its predecessor, which took in $15.8 million over the four-day Labor Day weekend in 2001. And it also made it clear there could only be one horror flick at the top, as Creepers 2 knocked the two-week champion, Freddy vs. Jason, off its perch and sent it down several notches to seventh place. Slash that, Freddy and Jason!
Considering that Creepers 2 was the only new film in wide release this weekend, its victory isn't all that surprising. What is surprising is the rest of the top five, where some of this summer's favorite films are back in action.
Moving up a two spots after a month in theaters was Disney's family fare Freaky Friday, which came in at No. 2 with $11.7 million. Police drama S.W.A.T., also in its fourth week, took third place with $10.5 million. The far-from-cursed Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl also moved up two places to steal fourth at $10.2 million, tying with the wild west saga Open Range, which roped in the same amount.
THE TOP TEN
MGM's R-rated Jeepers Creepers 2 debuted in the top spot with an ESTIMATED $18.5 in 3,124 theaters. Its $5,922 per theater average was the highest of any movie playing wide this week.
The sequel follows a group of varsity basketball players, cheerleaders and coaches who are returning home from a championship game and become stranded on a dark road. They eventually become victims of the Creeper's final voracious feeding frenzy.
Directed by Victor Salva, it stars Ray Wise, Jonathan Breck, Nicki Lynn Aycox, Garikayi Mutambirwa and Lena Caldwell.
Buena Vista's PG rated family remake Freaky Friday laughed its way up two spots to take No. 2 in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $11.7 million (-2%) in 3,067 theaters (+9 theaters; $3,815 per theater). Its cume is $90 million.
Directed by Mark Waters, it stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Chad Michael Murray and Mark Harmon.
Sony Pictures' PG-13 rated S.W.A.T. dropped just one place to No. 3 in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $10.5 million (-22%) in 2,781 theaters (-423 theaters; $3,776 per theater). Its cume is approximately $102.4 million.
Directed by Clark Johnson, it stars Colin Farrell, Samuel L. Jackson, LL Cool J and Michelle Rodriguez.
While films generally wane after a few weeks on the charts, Buena Vista Pictures' PG-13 rated success story Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl gained momentum, shimmying up two spots to fourth place in its eighth week with an ESTIMATED $10.2 million (+9%) at 2,227 theaters (-177 theaters; $4,580 per theater). Its cume is approximately $274.4 million.
Directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, it stars Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley.
In a tie with Pirates of the Caribbean, Buena Vista's R rated Western Open Range also came in with an ESTIMATED $10.2 million (-18%) in its third week in 2,244 theaters (+81 theaters; $4,545 per theater). Its cume is approximately $42.9 million.
Directed by and starring Kevin Costner, it also stars Robert Duvall, Annette Bening, Diego Luna and Michael Gambon.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Universal Pictures' PG-13 rated equestrian drama Seabiscuit also gained a spot to finish in the No. 6 position in its sixth week with ESTIMATED $8.15 million (+4%) in 2,556 theaters (+22 theaters; $3,190 per theater). Its cume is approximately $103.7 million.
Directed by Gary Ross, it stars Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper.
New Line Cinema's R rated horror flick Freddy vs. Jason got whacked down to seventh place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $8.12 million (-50%) in 2,929 theaters (-85 theaters; $2,774 per theater). Its cume is approximately $73.4 million.
Directed by Ronny Yu, it stars Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger.
Sony Pictures' PG-13 rated martial arts actioner The Medallion dropped considerably from fifth to eighth place in its second week with an ESTIMATED $5.7 million (-45%) at 2,652 theaters (+4 theaters; $2,149 per theater). The Jackie Chan-starrer has earned approximately $16.3 million so far.
Directed by Gordon Chan, it stars Jackie Chan, Lee Evans and Claire Forlani.
MGM's PG-13 rated riches-to-rags tale Uptown Girls slipped one spot to ninth in its third week with an ESTIMATED $5.2 million (-26%) in 2,166 theaters (-329; $2,419 per theater). Its cume is approximately $30 million.
Directed by Boaz Yakin, it stars Brittany Murphy, Dakota Fanning, Donald Faison, Marley Shelton and Heather Locklear.
Rounding out the Top Ten is Dimension Films' PG-13 rated comedy My Boss's Daughter, which held onto tenth place for the second week with an ESTIMATED $4.5 million (-28%) in 2,206 theaters (+5 theaters; $2, 057 per theater). Its cume is approximately $11.6 million.
In the film, a young executive housesits for his boss and tends to his prized pet owl in hopes of skipping a few rungs on his way up the corporate ladder.
Directed by David Zucker, it stars Ashton Kutcher, Tara Reid, Molly Shannon and Andy Richter.
The box office grosses this Labor Day weekend were up 10.8 percent from the same weekend last year, when the total take was $91.2 million.
Last year's top three included: Buena Vista's PG-13 rated sci-fi thriller Signs, which held onto the No. 1 spot in its fifth week of release with $17 million at 3,437 theaters ($4,959 per theater average); the indie film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which finally got an expanded release after 20 weeks in release and came in second with $11.1 million at 1,619 theaters ($9,147 per theater); and Sony's PG-13 rated actioner xXx, which dropped to third in its fourth week with $10.3 million in 3,536 theaters ($3,707 per theater average).
The inspirational real-life story of Seabiscuit is a history lesson worth being taught. During the height of the Depression this too-small unruly glue factory-bound racehorse triumphed over great odds to win races--and the heart of a nation. He eventually beat the Triple Crown winner of the day War Admiral in a 1938 match race heard by millions nationwide on the radio. Yet in addition to the horse itself Seabiscuit revolves around the three men who groom train and care for the animal--three men who are each wounded souls in their own right. There's owner Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges) a born salesman with a kind heart who makes a fortune selling Buicks in Northern Calif. but it means nothing after he loses his son in a tragic accident; there's trainer Tom Smith (Chris Cooper) an obsolete cowboy whose world of wide open plains is slowly vanishing under barbed wire train tracks and roads; and jockey John "Red" Pollard (Tobey Maguire) a young man who is torn from his impoverished family at the beginning of the Depression and lives a hard life as a part-time jockey part-time boxer. They're all beaten but somehow when the four come together--it's magic. Even though the film suffers from the you-know-how-this-is-going-to-turn-out syndrome as well as venturing a bit much into the melodramatic Seabiscuit still lifts your spirit and shows how despite a time of great suffering the underdogs gave hope that the American Dream could be possible again.
The talented trio handles their tasks admirably. Bridges harkens back to his performance as the idealistic car inventor Preston Tucker in the 1988 film Tucker; Howard like Tucker is a dreamer successful in his endeavors great at public relations but perhaps a little too trusting of others. Bridges fits comfortably into this role but digs deeper this time showing Howard's pain--and his ultimate salvation in his winning horse. Maguire is also well suited as the lanky Red but the poor guy sure takes a beating playing the role. It's gut-wrenching watching the downtrodden Red starve himself so he can still be considered for jockey jobs or getting the snot kicked out of him in a boxing match which ultimately results in him losing sight in one eye. Then to top it off Red shatters his leg in a riding accident weeks away from the big race against War Admiral. It's tough being Red but Maguire doesn't shy away. As for Cooper he shines once again. After winning an Oscar for his turn in Adaptation the underrated actor shows how good he really is by giving another exquisite performance as the horse whisperer-like trainer. It's the quiet moments that work best; when Smith is sitting whittling outside Seabiscuit's stall letting the horse get some rest--with barely a trace of a smile on his lips as he ignores the swarm of reporters around the stable. And in wonderful moments of hilarity William H. Macy gives a great performance as "Tick-Tock" McGlaughlin a conglomerate of those colorful radio announcers who gave the craving public blow-by-blow accounts of the horse races during the Depression. Macy gets out-loud laughs every time he shows up.
Seabiscuit is a labor of love--a love for anything to do with horses and horse racing which may not necessarily be exciting to all although the movie's message will speak to everyone. Based on Lauren Hillenbrand's best-selling novel of the same name writer/director Gary Ross (Pleasantville) plunges headlong into the story of this inspirational horse carefully setting up the history surrounding his rise to stardom. The cinematography is extraordinary. Ross expertly blends archive footage within in the movie where at times you feel like you are watching another well-made documentary á la Ken Burns. One particular moment where this works best is when at the start of the race between War Admiral and Seabiscuit Ross switches to archive images of real folk listening to the race on the radio as you hear the real-life commentators giving the details. Of course showing the final stretch of the race is the payoff and though you know who is going to win you're on the edge of your seat anyway. It's after this however where the film begins to lose its momentum and lapses into clichéd sap. Seabiscuit hurts his leg too and is deemed never to race again. He convalesces with Red on Howard's farm until they both miraculously heal well enough to race one more time. It's almost too much to believe even though it is still a true story. Seriously how much can one man and his horse take?
This weekend at the box office, moviegoers finally got to work out their frustrations.
As expected, the new comedy Anger Management beat the daylights out of the competition with a whooping $44.5 million,* making it the highest opener of 2003 (topping Daredevil, which opened in February with $40.3 million).
"The comedy genre this year is just incapable of burning out," Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations told the Associated Press. "People are looking to blow off steam. What better way than seeing a movie that combines Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler?"
And Management was apparently all moviegoers wanted to see this weekend, as the rest of the list paled miserably in comparison. Last week's top dog Phone Booth, came in at No.2 with a measly $7.5 million, while the teenybopper What a Girl Wants took third with $6.7 million.
Rounding out the Top Five were the enduring comedy Bringing Down the House, which held the fourth spot with $4.6 million and the cop drama A Man Apart, which came in a No. 5 with $4.4 million. Horror newcomer House of 1,000 Corpses opened in seventh place with $3.4 million in limited theaters.
Even with Management's huge numbers, this weekend's box office only jumped five percent from last weekend. Still, the film helped revive a four-week slump, which is a good sign that things may finally be picking up.
THE TOP TEN
Sony Pictures' PG-13 Anger Management screamed its way to the top with an ESTIMATED $44.5 million in 3,551 theaters ($12,532 per theater).
The film's strong opening makes it the best April opener of all time, beating out The Scorpion King, which opened in 2002 at $36 million. It's also the best opening film for both its stars Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler. Nicholson's best opening to date had been Batman, which hit theaters in 1989 and took in $40.5 million its first weekend, while Sandler's 1999 Big Daddy was his biggest at $41.5 million.
Management follows the exploits of a mild-mannered man who is mistakenly ordered into an anger management program to battle his inner demons--but it turns out the only real demon in his life is his unorthodox therapist.
Directed by Peter Segal, it stars Sandler, Nicholson, Marisa Tomei and John Turturro.
20th Century Fox's R-rated Phone Booth called in at No. 2 with an ESTIMATED $7.5 million, dropping 50 percent from its top spot last week. The thriller about a man trapped in a phone booth by a homicidal sniper played at 2,489 theaters ($3,023 per theater) and its cume is approximately $26.6 million.
Directed by Joel Schumacher, it stars Colin Farrell, Kiefer Sutherland and Forest Whitaker.
Slipping down a spot to third was Warner Bros.' PG-rated What a Girl Wants with an ESTIMATED $6.7 million (-41%) at 2,964 theaters (+ 8 theaters, $2,260 per theater). The Teen Beat comedy, which follows a young American girl who heads to London in hopes of meeting the father she's never known, a high-profile politician, has collected approximately $20.4 million thus far.
Directed by Dennie Gordon, it stars Amanda Bynes, Kelly Preston and Colin Firth.
Proving comedies are indeed the flavor of the year, Buena Vista's PG-13 Bringing Down the House moved up one place to fourth with an ESTIMATED $4.6 million (-45%) at 2,830 theaters (-80 theaters, $1,625 per theater). Now in its sixth week, the laffer's cume is approximately $117.7 million.
Directed by Adam Shankman, it stars Steve Martin and Queen Latifah.
New Line Cinema's R-rated A Man Apart dropped a few notches to fifth place with an ESTIMATED $4.4 million (-60%) at 2,495 theaters (+36 theaters, $1,784 per theater). The cop drama--about a U.S. narcotics officer who takes on a Tijuana drug cartel to get retribution for the murder of his wife--has taken in approximately $18.2 million so far.
Directed by F. Gary Gray, it stars Vin Diesel and Larenz Tate.
DreamWorks' PG-13 Head of State slid from No. 4 to No.6 with an ESTIMATED $4 million (-53%) at 2,256 theaters (+101 theaters, $1,773 per theater). Its cume is approximately $30.9 million.
Directed by and starring Chris Rock, the film also stars Bernie Mac, Lynn Whitfield, Robin Givens and Tamala Jones.
And for those horror fans--Lions Gate's R-rated House of 1,000 Corpses debuted in seventh place with an ESTIMATED $3.4 million at 595 theaters ($5,714 per theater).
Set in the 1970s, the film revolves around two young couples who take a misguided tour onto the back roads of America and are set upon by a bizarre family of psychotics. Murder, cannibalism and satanic rituals are just a few of the thousand horrors that await.
Director by heavy-metal singer Rob Zombie, it stars Karen Black, Michael J. Pollard, Bill Moseley and Chris Hardwick.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Miramax Films' PG-13 Chicago held onto eighth place with an ESTIMATED $3.29 million (-36%) at 2,114 theaters (-281 theaters, $1,556 per theater). Now in its 16th week, Miramax's most profitable film has earned approximately $156.9 million.
Directed by Rob Marshall, it stars Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere.
Taking a dive three spots to dig in at No. 9, ,Paramount Pictures' PG-13 The Core shoveled in an ESTIMATED $3.22 million (-48%) at 3,019 theaters ($1,068 per theater). The disaster thriller about saving the Earth by jumpstarting its core has made $25.6 million in three weeks.
Directed by Jon Amiel, it stars Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci, D.J. Qualls and Tcheky Karyo.
Also shaving off three spots to claim tenth place was Sony's R-rated Basic, which came in with an ESTIMATED $2.2 million (-59%) at 2,246 theaters (-630 theaters, $980 per theater). Its cume is approximately $23.8 million.
Directed by John McTiernan, it stars John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson and Connie Nielsen.
Guess word of mouth counts for something. The critically acclaimed R-rated independent film Better Luck Tomorrow from Paramount Classics opened in 13 theaters with an ESTIMATED $398,489, averaging a very healthy $30,653 per theater.
The film plays on the story of straight-A, Asian-American teens in Southern California who, bored with their suburban lives, slide into petty crimes that lead to violence.
"These kids could be anybody," Van Toffler, MTV president told AP. "It's silly to underestimate the eclectic moviegoing tastes of our demographic. The cast doesn't have to look or feel like them for them to want to see it."
Directed by Justin Lin, it stars Parry Shen, Jason Tobin, John Cho and Karin Anna Cheung.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $ 86.9 million, up 5.76 percent from last week when they totaled $82.2 million. The Top 12 were also up 6.30 percent from last year when they totaled $81.7 million.
Last year, Paramount Pictures' R-rated Changing Lanes opened in the top spot with $17.1 million at 2,613 theaters ($6,555 per theaters). The Panic Room came in No.2 with $10.6 million at 3,119 theaters ($3,405 per theater) while Sony's The Sweetest Thing debuted in third with $9.4 million at 2,670 theaters ($3,532 per theater).