Ticket sales soared 27 percent ahead of this weekend last year. Key films — those grossing $500,000 or more — took in $164.5 million versus last year’s $129.1 million.
THE TOP TEN
Warner Bros.’ PG rated family comedy Scooby-Doo turned out to be one sizzling hot dog at the box office, opening to a record setting ESTIMATED $56.42 million at 3,447 theaters ($16,368 per theater).
Scooby‘s average per theater was the highest for any film playing this weekend.
“It’s the largest grossing June opening in motion picture history,” Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. “The biggest June opening prior to this was Austin Powers (with $54.9 million for New Line’s sequel Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me the weekend of June 11-13, 1999). It exceeds the best opening in Warner’s June history, which was Batman Forever, our second Batman, (with $52.8 million the weekend of June 16-18, 1995).”
What accounts for Scooby‘s staggering success? “I think Scooby is a beloved character and it fits into a Looney Tunes mold (in that) it reaches audiences from eight to 80. There was such a fan base (that was even) deeper than we had anticipated. You know, Dan Romanelli and his Consumer Products Group (at Warner Bros.) have been pushing Scooby-Doo ever since they took over consumer product sales for Hanna-Barbera when (Warners) bought it. Scooby has been a big seller.”
Focusing on the multiple areas at Warners that contributed to the film’s blockbuster launch, Fellman pointed out that the result is a valuable new franchise with a Scooby sequel coming in two years. “It just shows,” he said, “that you can take that synergy between consumer products, production, marketing and (television exposure on AOL Time Warner’s) the Cartoon Network and build a new franchise. And that’s what we’ve done. So we will have a Scooby-Doo 2 in 2004.”
Universal’s PG-13 espionage thriller The Bourne Identity arrived in second place, beating insider expectations with a muscular ESTIMATED $27.5 million at 2,638 theaters ($10,425 per theater).
Directed by Doug Liman, it stars Matt Damon.
“Aside from the fact that the production team really came through, I give a lot of credit to (marketing president) Adam Fogelson and his marketing team,” Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. “In the last two weeks they were able to take this genre film and separate it from the usual spy thrillers by making it look fresh and young and hip. Using director Doug Liman, who’s known for (making films with an) independent flavor, that all jelled with the campaign, which got tremendous awareness over the past two weeks. So we were really very, very pleased.”
Considering how unconventional Bourne is, Rocco noted, “It’s really something to open a film at this level. Matt Damon demonstrates how very talented he is. This is Matt’s biggest opening for a (film that for him is) a star vehicle. The other films he was in (that opened bigger like) Ocean’s Eleven and Saving Private Ryan weren’t really his vehicles. So (in terms of carrying) a film on his own, this is his biggest opening.”
Damon, Rocco added, “did a tremendous amount of work to open it. He toured for two weeks on the road talking about the film. I give him a lot of credit because in a crowded marketplace you really have to stand out and that’s just what happened. The campaign stood out and the talent stood out and here are the results. It’s great. It was a pretty big challenge for us to open this picture in such an environment where there are such high profile films and such huge budgeted competition. So to reach this level of success is quite incredible.”
MGM’s R rated World War II drama Windtalkers opened in third place in the thick of the box office battle with an ESTIMATED $14.5 million at 2,898 theaters ($5,003 per theatre).
“It was a big weekend and at least we’re in that top tier of movies, so that’s good,” MGM marketing and distribution president Bob Levin said Sunday morning. “Obviously, we would have liked to have done more business, but our exits show we have about a 55 percent male audience, about two-thirds of them over 25. In that over-25 group, they’re very strong.
“They seemed to really like the movie — so, hopefully, they’ll stay with us. They didn’t come out quite in the numbers that we hoped (they would) this weekend, but with the stunning performance of Scooby-Doo, maybe they decided to take their kids to see Scooby-Doo this weekend. We’ll get ‘em (in the weeks ahead). It’s now (a matter of) digging in and trying to keep ourselves in that upper tier and just get the business.”
Paramount’s PG-13 rated thriller The Sum Of All Fears slid three pegs to fourth place in its third week, holding decently given its stiff new competition with an ESTIMATED $13.5 million (-30%) at 3,155 theaters (-63 theaters; $4,180 per theater). Its cume is approximately $84.5 million, heading for $100 million in domestic theaters.
“I think $100 million is very safe now (as a domestic projection),” Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. “I’d anticipated a more substantial drop this weekend given the competition that came in. But it seems that the market expanded to accommodate all three of these movies (that opened).”
Given the strength of the new films, Fears held quite well. “We’re very happy with that hold,” Lewellen said. “We were somewhat disappointed last week, not by the end result but last Saturday we got hurt by the (championship) fight and all the sporting activities (that were on television). But we came back on Sunday, so the weekend overall last week held up pretty well.
“We felt that was kind of the opening (to do business) before Bourne Identity and Windtalkers came in, which was certainly directed at our audience. But to hold to a 30 percent drop in the face of that level competition, we’re very ecstatic with that, I’ll tell you.”
Warner Bros. and Gaylord Films’ PG-13 rated drama Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood dropped three slots in its second week to fifth place with a less lively ESTIMATED $9.8 million (-39%) at 2,507 theaters (theater count unchanged; $3,909 per theater). Its cume is approximately $35.0 million.
20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm’s PG rated franchise installment Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones slipped three rungs to sixth place in its fifth week with a quieter ESTIMATED $9.2 million (-34%) at 2,401 theaters (-760 theaters; $3,832 per theater). Its cume is approximately $270.5 million, heading for $300 million in domestic theaters.
Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace took in $431.1 million in domestic theaters. Its worldwide total (domestic plus international) was $923 million.
Columbia’s PG-13 sci-fi fantasy blockbuster Spider-Man fell two pegs to seventh place in its seventh week, continuing to hold well with an ESTIMATED $7.4 million (-28%) at 2,705 theaters (-530 theaters; $2,739 per theater). Its cume is approximately $382.4 million heading for $400 million in domestic theaters.
Spidey had the lowest percentage drop of any film in this weekend’s Top Ten.
Buena Vista/Touchstone and Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ PG-13 rated action film Bad Company skidded four notches in its second week to eighth place with a slow $6.1 million (-45%) at 2,944 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,069 per theater). Its cume is approximately $21.8 million.
DreamWorks’ G rated animated feature Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron dropped two slots to ninth place in its fourth week with an uneventful ESTIMATED $5.5 million (-40%) at 2,873 theaters (-489 theaters; $1,931 per theater). Its cume is approximately $63.8 million.
Directed by Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook, it was produced by Mireille Soria and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Universal and Imagine Entertainment’s PG-13 rated urban appeal comedy Undercover Brother, down three rungs in its third week to a quiet ESTIMATED $4.64 million (-37%) at 1,832 theaters (-337 theaters; $2,530 per theater). Its cume is approximately $31.6 million.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Miramax’s R rated classic drama Cinema Paradiso: The New Version with an okay ESTIMATED $27,000 at 3 theaters ($9,000 per theater).
Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, it stars Philippe Noiret.
Think Film’s R rated dark comedy The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys opened quietly to an ESTIMATED $57,000 at 9 theaters ($6,356 per theater).
Directed by Peter Care, it stars Kieran Culkin.
Paramount Classics’ romantic comedy The Emperor’s New Clothes opened poorly to an ESTIMATED $8,000 at 2 theaters ($3,810 per theater).
Directed by Alan Taylor, it stars Ian Holm.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front this weekend IFC Films’ PG rated romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding went wider in its ninth week with a still happy ESTIMATED $1.7 million at 453 theaters (+10 theaters; $3,745 per theater). Its cume is approximately $13.6 million.
Directed by Joel Zwick, it stars Nia Vardalos and John Corbett.
Miramax’s PG rated comedy The Importance of Being Earnest widened quietly in its fourth week to an ESTIMATED $0.62 million at 180 theaters ($3,416 per theater). Its cume is approximately $3.4 million.
Miramax said Earnest will expand to 250 theaters June 28.
Fine Line Features’ R rated drama Cherish expanded in its second week with an unexciting ESTIMATED $46,000 at 25 theaters (+19 theaters; $1,825 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.1 million.
Written and directed by Finn Taylor, it stars Robin Tunney.
Key films — those grossing more than $500,000 — took in approximately $164.54 million, up 27.4 percent from last year when they totaled $129.15 million.
Key films were up 56.54 percent from the previous weekend of this year when they grossed $105.11 million.
Last year, Paramount’s opening week of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was first with $47.74 million at 3,308 theaters ($14,430 per theater); and Buena Vista/Disney’s second week of Atlantis: The Lost Empire was second with $20.34 million at 3,011 theaters ($6,756 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $58.0 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $83.9 million.