Down went wide with a record setting $34 million for the four day holiday weekend that on Monday honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. Snow Dogs arrived to a hearty $22.5 million for Friday-Monday.
That was enough to end Lord of the Rings' four week chart topping reign, sending it to third place with a still solid $17.3 million. A Beautiful Mind continued to show beautiful legs, finishing fourth with $13 million.
Key films--those grossing $500,000 or more--took in about $143 million for the four day MLK weekend. Nonetheless, business slid nearly 14 percent from last year's King weekend (Jan. 12-15, 2001) when key films grossed $166.4 million.
THE TOP TEN
(NOTE: Today's projections are for the four day holiday weekend and are based on studio reports or industry estimates. Where available, estimates for the three day period from Friday-Sunday are also indicated parenthetically. Percentage comparisons are not indicated since the previous weekend was a regular three day weekend.)
Revolution Studios and Jerry Bruckheimer Films' R rated drama Black Hawk Down went wide in its fourth week of release via Columbia Pictures with a high flying ESTIMATED $34.0 million at 3,101 theaters (+3,085 theaters; $10,964 per theater). Its cume is approximately $35.8 million. (For three days Sony said it did an ESTIMATED $29.0 million or $9,352 per theater.)
Down's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
"It's the biggest Martin Luther King opening weekend ever," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning. "The best thing last year was Save the Last Dance, which did $23.4 million for Friday-Saturday-Sunday and for four days was $27.5 million.
"Another statistic to note is that this certainly is a launch comparable to Saving Private Ryan, to which comparisons have been made (in terms of both being war dramas) although that was in July without the snow. That was $30.5 million on July 24, 1998."
Focusing on the growing importance of the MLK weekend, Blake observed, "This is a big number for the middle of January. There's no question about that. Despite obviously inclement weather on the East Coast, we couldn't be happier about the way things have turned out."
Clearly, Sony's strategy of putting Down in platform release during the holiday season in order to qualify it for Oscar consideration but holding off until the MLK weekend for its wide break turned out to be right on the money.
"There's no question," Blake said. "We always wanted both. We wanted, certainly, a chance to participate in the year-end award activities, but never at the expense of a big opening. And, yes, we now have both."
Buena Vista/Disney's PG rated family comedy Snow Dogs kicked off in second place, barking loudly with an ESTIMATED $22.5 million at 2,302 theaters ($9,774 per theater). (For three days Disney said it did an ESTIMATED $17.5 million or $7,622 per theater.)
"I am enjoying a fabulous weekend," Buena Vista Distribution president Chuck Viane said Sunday morning. "I wonder how big this weekend would have been if the weather didn't hit yesterday. The East Coast numbers are very soft because of the snow and the (football) game. But I'm not taking anything away (from how well Snow Dogs performed). This was just a really, really strong opening. I think it goes to show how much the public has enjoyed the comedy of Snow Dogs."
Asked about the MLK weekend's new strength, Viane replied, "I think it has become a much more celebrated weekend and it is setting itself up as one of the truly great grossing weekends of the year. Every year it seems to be getting stronger and stronger and, of course, people are releasing higher profile movies and I think that's all terrific."
Viane noted that when Disney held sneak previews of Snow Dogs on Jan. 5, "we had really, really strong exits. And then this weekend the public plunked down their money for it and the CinemaScores are really a validation of how much they liked the movie. It's got to be over the fact that it's a wonderful film to go lose yourself (in) for a couple hours of laughter. In the female category, all three (CinemaScore grades) were A's. And for males it was A for the under-21s and B's for the other two (age) categories."
New Line Cinema's PG-13 rated epic The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring fell two pegs to third place in its fifth week with a still solid ESTIMATED $17.25 million at 3,266 theaters (-115 theaters; $5,281 per theater). Its cume is approximately $250.2 million, heading for $300 million or more in domestic theaters. (For three days New Line said it did an ESTIMATED $13.03 million or $3,988 per theater.)
"We're just chugging along," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman said Sunday morning. "I think that if we don't win anything (in the Oscars) we're going to be about $300 million. I think if we win, we'll be at $350 million."
New Line, Tuckerman said, is planning "at some point in time to add (additional footage at the end of Rings that) will be a lot longer than a trailer, but I don't know how much longer. We're going to give (moviegoers) a preview of (the second episode of Rings). We're going to change the last reel out and do a preview of Two at the end of the last reel. (People) are screaming for it."
When would New Line do this? "I'm sure (it would be) after the Oscars are voted and the ballots are done," Tuckerman said. "I'm pretty certain we'll end up doing it."
Universal, DreamWorks and Imagine Entertainment's PG-13 rated drama A Beautiful Mind fell two rungs in its fifth week to fourth place with a still beautiful ESTIMATED $13.02 million at 2,225 theaters (+3 theaters; $5,850 per theater). Its cume is approximately $75.9 million, heading for $100 million-plus in domestic theaters. (For three days Universal said it did an ESTIMATED $11.0 million or $4,944 per theater.)
"It's a great hold for three days and it's a great hold for four days," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. "We're tremendously optimistic about the staying power of this picture."
Paramount and MTV Films' opening of the PG-13 rated youth appeal comedy Orange County dropped two notches to fifth place in its second week with a less tasty ESTIMATED $10.8 million at 2,317 theaters (theater count unchanged; $4,661 per theater). Its cume is approximately $28.7 million. (For three days Paramount said it did an ESTIMATED $9.0 million or $3,884 per theater.)
Asked where Orange County is likely to wind up domestically, Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning, "In the area of $45-50 million, I think."
As for the MLK weekend, he added, "It's a big holiday. It's kind of hard to gauge it because the snowstorm yesterday took a chunk out of the middle. It probably will knock it down some. You may recover some of that business that we lost yesterday, but I don't think we can recover it all. It cost us $500,000 or $600,000 yesterday on Orange County and I think on Black Hawk Down it may have cost them a couple million dollars.
Warner Bros. PG-13 rated casino heist dramatic comedy Ocean's Eleven fell two pegs to sixth place in its sixth week, continuing to hold well with an ESTIMATED $6.71 million at 2,670 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,511 per theater). Its cume is approximately $171.6 million, heading for $180-200 million in domestic theaters. (For three days Warner Bros. said it did an ESTIMATED $5.71 million or $2,137 per theater.)
Buena Vista/Touchstone's R rated drama The Royal Tenenbaums slipped two slots in its sixth week to seventh place with an okay ESTIMATED $5.0 million at 997 theaters (+92 theaters; $5,015 per theater). Its cume is approximately $37.0 million. (For three days Disney said it did an ESTIMATED $4.3 million or $4,367 per theater.)
Miramax's PG-13 rated romantic comedy Kate & Leopold held on to eighth place in its fourth week with a still charming ESTIMATED $4.2 million at 2,381 theaters (-86 theaters; $1,764 per theater). Its cume is approximately $42.8 million. (For three days Miramax said it did an ESTIMATED $3.4 million or $1,428 per theater.)
Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies' G rated animated feature Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, which was sixth last week, tied for ninth place in its fifth week with a less smart ESTIMATED $4.0 million at 2,506 theaters (-304 theaters; $1,596 per theater). Its cume is approximately $73.8 million, heading for about $85 million in domestic theaters. (For three days Paramount said it did an ESTIMATED $3.0 million or $1,197 per theater.)
Directed by John A Davis, it was produced by Steve Oedekerk, Davis and Albie Hecht.
USA Films' R rated whodunit Gosford Park, a likely Oscar contender, went wider in its fourth week. Gosford, which was ninth last week, tied for ninth place with a rousing ESTIMATED $4.0 million at 658 theaters (+140 theaters; $6,079 per theater). Its cume is approximately $11.6 million. (For three days USA Films said it did an ESTIMATED $3.3 million or $5,037 per theater.)
"We went into regional markets and small towns and the timing was right because it performed very nicely in those towns," USA Films distribution president Jack Foley said Sunday morning. "As it expands out into the country, it seems that each market is ready to embrace the film. Its holding power in the markets that we've opened has been very, very strong.
"The only disappointment for everybody was the weather in the East. But despite all that, the film (did) beautifully. We're heading very quickly to exceeding all of Altman's most recent films (at the) box office--the biggest being Dr. T & the Women with $13 million. And we're on our way to The Player, which did $21 million."
Although Paramount's R rated Vanilla Sky was slightly ahead of its family appeal Jimmy Neutron for three days (about $3.1 million vs. $3.0 million), Jimmy Neutron is expected to overtake it on a four day basis (about $4.0 million vs. $3.6 million). Jimmy Neutron should benefit from the fact that about 80 percent of U.S. schools will be closed Monday in observance of Dr. King's birthday.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Miramax's R rated romantic comedy Italian For Beginners to an encouraging ESTIMATED $0.062 million at 3 theaters ($20,667 per theater). (For three days Miramax said it did an ESTIMATED $0.055 million or $18,333 per theater.)
Directed by Lone Scherfig, it stars Anders Berthelsen.
New Line Cinema held 504 sneak previews Saturday night of its PG-13 rated drama I Am Sam.
"The sneaks were 75 percent full," New Line's David Tuckerman said Sunday morning. "That 75 percent is excellent because of the huge snowstorm in the Northeast. The Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good) were 96 percent, so they really liked the movie. It was 56 percent female and 44 percent male."
This Friday (Jan. 25) I Am Sam will expand to about 1,200 theaters.
On the expansion front this weekend Miramax's R rated Oscar contender drama In the Bedroom widened in its ninth week with a still encouraging ESTIMATED $2.7 million at 457 theaters (+33 theaters; $5,908 per theater. Its cume is approximately $11.5 million. (For three days Miramax said it did an ESTIMATED $2.1 million or $4,595 per theater.)
Miramax's R rated drama The Shipping News went wider in its fourth week with a quiet ESTIMATED $1.7 million at 434 theaters (+166 theaters; $3,917 per theater). Its cume is approximately $8.1 million. (For three days Miramax said it did an ESTIMATED $1.3 million or $2,995 per theater.)
Universal's R rated fantasy thriller Brotherhood of the Wolf expanded in its second week to a promising ESTIMATED $1.34 million at 107 theaters (+86 theaters; $12,510 per theater). Its cume is approximately $2.1 million.
Directed by Christopher Gans, it stars Samuel Le Bihan.
Miramax Zoe Films' R rated French comedy Amelie expanded in its 12th week with a cheerful ESTIMATED $1.4 million at 298 theaters (+38 theaters; $4,698 per theater. Its cume is approximately $21.1 million. (For three days Miramax said it did an ESTIMATED $1.05 million or $3,523 per theater.)
Lions Gate Films' R rated drama Monster's Ball added theaters in its fourth week with a hopeful ESTIMATED $0.2 million at 11 theaters (+3 theater; $17,793 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.8 million.
Universal's R rated drama Mulholland Drive expanded in its 15th week with a slow ESTIMATED $0.15 million at 111 theaters (+13 theaters; $1,355 per theater). Its cume is approximately $6.2 million.
Universal's international division reported that American Pie 2 has surpassed the original American Pie at the international box office. Pie 2's cume to date is $133.5 million compared to the first film's total gross of $132.9 million.
Pie 2 ranked first in Mexico for the consecutive second week with a two day gross of $0.54 million on 245 screens and a 20 percent market share. Pie 2 was 32 percent ahead of Behind Enemy Lines, which opened this weekend. Pie 2's cume after nine days in Mexico is $2.8 million, which is 239 percent ahead of American Pie.
Pie 2 continued to hold well in Brazil where in its fifth week it ranked eighth. Its two day gross this weekend is $0.1 million on 140 screens. Its 30-day cume is $2.9 million.
Long Time Dead opened in the U.K. this weekend to $0.58 million on 230 screens for two days. Dead ranked fifth on the chart behind Lord of the Rings, which had been number one in the U.K. for five weeks.
Key films--those grossing more than $500,000--took in approximately $143.3 million. Comparisons with last year are not valid because the comparable weekend last year was a regular three day weekend. Compared to MLK weekend in 2001, which fell one week earlier than it did this year, key films were down 13.88 percent.
This weekend's key film gross for four days cannot be compared to the previous weekend of this year, which was a regular three day weekend.
Last year, Paramount's second week of Save the Last Dance was first with $15.37 million at 2,539 theaters ($6,052 per theater); and Fox's fifth week of Cast Away was second with $11.15 million at 3,061 theaters ($3,643 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $26.6 million for three days. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $46.5 million for three days and $56.5 million for four days.