The Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar computer animated blockbuster has already taken in nearly $123 million and is heading towards $200 million or more in domestic theaters. Monsters, Inc. fell by only about 26 percent in its second weekend, considerably less than the 35 percent drop insiders had expected.
Also helping to drive the weekend was 20th Century Fox's much stronger than anticipated second place opening of Shallow Hal to over $23 million. Based on Hollywood's advance radar screen, insiders were predicting a more shallow launch for Shallow Hal of $14-16 million on the low end and $18-20 million on the high end.
Key films continued to enjoy summer-like ticket sales. The weekend's total of about $121.5 million was up nearly 23 percent from last year's $98.9 million.
THE TOP TEN
Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar Animation Studios' G rated computer animated feature Monsters, Inc. remained atop the chart, holding extremely well with a very colorful ESTIMATED $46.2 million (-26%) at 3,269 theaters (+32 theaters; $14,124 per theater). Its cume is approximately $122.8 million.
Monsters, Inc. appears to be on the track to gross $200 million or more in domestic theaters. If it falls by about 50 percent next weekend with the arrival of blockbuster competition for the family audience from Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, it will still gross another $20-23 million. It should do another $20 million or so the following weekend over the extended Thanksgiving holiday period, which is typically the year's biggest family moviegoing weekend. That would put Monsters, Inc. somewhere in the $165-170 million range coming out of Thanksgiving and with the rest of the holiday season still ahead of it.
Monsters, Inc.'s average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide or limited release this weekend. The film cracked $100 million on Saturday, its ninth day in release, making it the fastest animated film ever to join Hollywood's $100 Million Club.
"You know, comedy is king and this form of animation has just won the hearts of everybody," Buena Vista Distribution president Chuck Viane said Sunday morning. "We've played to 20 million people in the last nine or 10 days. I've got to think that the word of mouth is so good. I know the exits are (great), but when you see it take over like this--I mean, a $46 million weekend! Who'd have thunk it?"
Late last week Hollywood insiders were speculating that Monsters, Inc. would drop by about 35 percent and gross around $40 million in its second weekend. "At 35 percent, we would have been extremely happy," Viane noted. "Most monster openings like this usually are in the 40 percents and 50 percents (in terms of second weekend drops) and it's so nice to see the movie stay there."
Looking ahead, Viane pointed out, "With Harry Potter coming into the marketplace this weekend (via Warner Bros.), audiences around the country are going to have some really great choices and business is going to be fabulous. Lines beget lines (at the box office) and that is go good for our business right now. I'm happy Harry Potter's coming. There's just something about the roll our business is on right now. I can see them opening up to record numbers--whatever that number is--and I've been around long enough to know there's room for two or three movies in the marketplace very easily. Nobody puts everybody (else) out of business."
Focusing on who is going to see Monsters, Inc., Viane observed, "The thing that is just probably the most complimentary thing that's happened to our movie is the tremendous adult interest (we're seeing). They're coming out at all those late evening shows. You don't do $20 million (as Monsters, Inc. did on Saturday) on matinees. There's no question we had another fabulous set of evenings. I would think today in L.A. will be something special simply because of the overcast day (on the weather front)."
Viane also emphasized the importance of Monsters, Inc. to the industry in terms of getting trailers for upcoming films seen by a huge audience. "You think about the number of really good movies that have trailers on the front of our movie," he said. "You're sitting there having 20 million (pairs of) eyeballs seeing something that they're going to want to come back in the next month or two to see again and that can only be good for all of us. You look at Snow Dogs, Harry Potter, Jimmy Neutron, The Rookie, (the reissue of) E.T. and Return to Neverland. They're all the beneficiary of their trailers playing on Monsters, Inc. and that's great news.
"And Harry Potter's going to do the same exact thing for everybody. Everyone who is lucky enough to get (a trailer) placed on the front of that picture is going to have a record number of people seeing it and whetting their appetites for the future. And that's what our business is all about."
20th Century Fox's PG-13 rated romantic comedy Shallow Hal arrived in second place to a deeply satisfying ESTIMATED $23.28 million at 2,771 theaters ($8,401 per theater).
"Hal surpassed my expectations and my hopes," Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said Sunday morning. "With Monsters, Inc. being monstrous in the marketplace to come in and do $23 million and change behind them is just great!"
When I reminded Snyder that late last week some insiders were projecting an $18-20 million opening for Shallow Hal, he replied, "I would laugh at them except I was saying the same thing. And tracking would even have indicated less than that. It could have been $16 million.
"The reality is that since Sept. 11 we really haven't been able to read tracking. It has been kind of false numbers. Monsters, Inc. should only have opened to $40 million if you went by the tracking (instead of $62.6 million). Right now, it's almost a frivolous question to ask somebody, 'Are you going to go to a movie this weekend?' with world conditions as they are. It doesn't mean that they're not going. It just means the question's a little strange. You almost feel silly saying, 'Oh, yeah, I can't wait to see Shallow Hal' rather than, 'Oh, my God, I hope they're not going to be bombing us.' But it doesn't change the fact that you're going to go (see a movie). It's a healthy marketplace."
Asked where Shallow Hal seems headed in domestic theaters given this strong start, Snyder said, "Certainly, $75 million. I'm looking at the bump from Friday to Saturday, which tells me something about playability. We were up 26 percent on opening weekend. That's very good. So I think we're in for a run."
Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures' PG-13 rated sci-fi action adventure The One slipped one notch to third place in its second week with a slower ESTIMATED $9.1 million (-52%) at 2,894 theaters (theater count unchanged; $3,144 per theater). Its cume is approximately $31.9 million.
"We'll hang in there certainly and up with $55-60 million, which will be very profitable for us. It cost $42 million," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning. "We had openings in (some of the) smaller territories in Asia--Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Hong Kong--and all were strong number one openings. So not only has it been very good here, it certainly looks to have great appeal overseas, as well."
Paramount's PG-13 rated thriller Domestic Disturbance fell one peg to fourth place in its second week with a calm ESTIMATED $8.5 million (-39%) at 2,910 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,921 per theater). Its cume is approximately $26.0 million.
Asked where Domestic Disturbance is heading in domestic theaters, Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning, "The low $40 millions probably--maybe $45 million. We'll see how it holds up. There's a lot of heavyweights coming in (to the marketplace shortly)."
Franchise Pictures' R rated thriller Heist, released through Warner Bros., arrived in fifth place to an okay ESTIMATED $8.01 million at 1,891 theaters ($4,236 per theater).
"It's probably one of the best reviewed movies of the year," Warner Bros. Distribution executive vice president Jeff Goldstein said Sunday morning. "We've had good audience reaction so we should be able to hold well through the Thanksgiving holiday.
"It's a significant movie for David Mamet. It's his most commercial film and his widest release to date, so it probably should be his biggest box office gross, too. I'm guessing that we'll probably get somewhere in the $20 millions and that probably will double his biggest commercial film prior to that, which is a very small art film called The Spanish Prisoner, which I loved. It was really well done."
Universal and Intermedia Films' PG-13 rated drama K-PAX fell two rungs in its third week to sixth place with a quiet ESTIMATED $6.25 million (-38%) at 2,581 theaters (+36 theaters; $2,420 per theater). Its cume is approximately $40.3 million.
Warner Bros. and Columbia Pictures' Thirteen Ghosts, a low budget Dark Castle Entertainment production, dropped two slots to seventh place in its third week with a less frightening ESTIMATED $4.18 million (-47%) at 2,351 theaters (-430 theaters; $1,776 per theater). Its cume is approximately $34.0 million, heading for about $37 million in domestic theaters.
New Line Cinema went wide in its third week with its R rated drama Life As A House, placing eighth with an unexciting ESTIMATED $3.68 million at 1,288 theaters (+1,200 theaters; $2,853 per theater). Its cume is approximately $4.9 million.
Columbia's PG-13 rated comedy drama Riding In Cars With Boys fell three rungs in its fourth week to ninth place with a dull ESTIMATED $2.1 million (-48%) at 2,182 theaters (-372 theaters; $962 per theater). Its cume is approximately $27.8 million on its way to $33-35 million in domestic theaters.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Warner Bros.' fifth week of its R rated hit police corruption drama Training Day, which was eighth last week, with a quiet ESTIMATED $1.94 million (-37%) at 1,407 theaters (-358 theaters; $1,375 per theater). Its cume is approximately $72.5 million, heading for about $76 million in domestic theaters.
There were no other major openings this weekend.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front this weekend saw USA Films' R rated black and white drama The Man Who Wasn't There go wider in its second week with a hopeful ESTIMATED $0.92 million at 169 theaters (+130 theaters; $5,470 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.8 million.
Miramax Zoe Films' R rated French comedy Amelie expanded in its second week with an encouraging ESTIMATED $0.73 million at 48 theaters (+45 theaters; $15,208 per theater. Its cume is approximately $1.0 million.
Fox Searchlight's R rated animated feature Waking Life added theaters in its fourth week with an okay ESTIMATED $0.25 million at 62 theaters (+5 theaters; $3,770 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.1 million.
"We're very pleased at how the film continued to expand into the regional markets," Fox Searchlight distribution president Stephen Gilula said Sunday morning. "It's a very challenging film and there's an audience out there that embraced it. It held extremely well in a number of the big cities where it's in its fourth week. We'll be expanding it to another 35 cities this weekend, so we'll be in over 100 theaters in about 75 markets going into Thanksgiving."
Universal International reported Sunday morning that its American Pie 2 enjoyed a strong number one opening in Taiwan Saturday. The first day's gross in Taipei was $90,000 on 16 screens, comparing very favorably to the studio's first day gross of $23,000 for its hit Road Trip on 14 screens in Taipei. American Pie 2 is playing on 48 screens in Taiwan. The original American Pie opened with 42 prints and grossed $122,000 in Taiwan.
In Germany American Pie 2 ranked sixth in its seventh week with a three day gross of $350,000 (-20%). Its cume is $28.7 million. American Pie 2 is Universal's biggest film in Germany this year and is UIP's all time fifth biggest release there.
In the U.K. American Pie 2 had a two day gross of $625,000 on 356 screens. It ranks third for the weekend after previews of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone with $5 million on 477 screens and the second week of The Others with $1.7 million on 377 screens. American Pie 2's 30-day cume is $23.8 million. The sequel has already grossed more than the first American Pie, which did $22.3 million in the U.K.
American Pie 2's international cume is $97 million with 19 countries still to open.
Universal's The Fast and the Furious is in its fourth week in Germany, where its three day gross was $350,000, down 60% from the previous holiday weekend. It ranked seventh at the box office and has a cume of $7.1 million.
The Fast and the Furious's international cume is $56 million with seven countries still to open.
Bridget Jones's Diary, which Universal and Miramax co-financed, passed $195 million at the international box office this weekend. Universal is releasing Bridget internationally and Miramax distributed it domestically.
Key films--those grossing more than $500,000--took in approximately $121.48 million, up about 22.84 per cent from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $98.89 million.
This weekend's key film gross was down about 13.14 percent from last weekend of this year, when key films took in approximately $139.86 million.
Last year, Columbia's second week of Charlie's Angels was first with $24.61 million at 3,037 theaters ($8,102 per theater); and New Line's opening week of Little Nicky was second with $16.06 million at 2,910 theaters ($5,520 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $40.7 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $69.5 million.