"Gladiator" continued to rule the box office this weekend, collecting another $24 million in tribute from moviegoers.
The R-rated action adventure from DreamWorks easily held on to first place in its second week with a hefty ESTIMATED $24.3 million (-30%) at 2,943 theaters (+40 theaters; $8,257 per theater). Its cume is approximately $73.3 million, heading for about $150 million in domestic theaters.
"Gladiator's" per theater average was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
"Obviously, it's a strong hold," DreamWorks distribution head Jim Tharp said Sunday morning. "The positive word-of-mouth continues to be very strong."
Although DreamWorks is distributing "Gladiator" domestically, Universal is releasing it internationally. The two studios are 50-50 partners, sharing equally in its success. The film reportedly cost $103 million to make.
Warner Bros. and Franchise Pictures' PG-13 rated sci-fi action adventure "Battlefield Earth" opened in second place to a solid ESTIMATED $12.32 million at 3,307 theaters ($3,725 per theater).
"I'm happy to be number two," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "The reviews were not good. It shows how strong John Travolta is as a star. To come in number two in a very competitive marketplace is a nice place to be. Franchise is very pleased that it opened up (well). They're going to support the movie."
"U-571," Universal's PG-13 World War II submarine drama, dropped anchor in third place, down one rung in its fourth week, but holding well with an ESTIMATED $5.78 million (-26%) at 2,820 theaters (+119 theaters; $2,050 per theater). Its cume is approximately $57.9 million, heading for about $75 million in domestic theaters.
"We're very happy," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. "I think 'U-571' has found its niche in the marketplace (and) it will continue to play. It didn't get hurt tremendously (this week), as much as it did last week from the opening of 'Gladiator.' Obviously, there's room in the marketplace for these kinds of films."
New Line's "Frequency," which was fourth last week, tied for fourth place in its third week, showing strong legs with an ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-26%) at 2,470 theaters (-161 theaters; $1,943 per theater). Its cume is approximately $24.6 million, heading for about $35 million in domestic theatres.
"It's what we've said from the beginning - everyone who sees it, likes it," New Line executive vice president, distribution David Tuckerman said Sunday morning. "Everybody's talking about it."
Columbia's opening of its PG-13-rated youth appeal dance film "Center Stage" tied for fourth place with a calm ESTIMATED $4.8 million at 1,506 theaters ($3,187 per theater).
"There was a nice turnout of teenage girls as the main audience," Sony Pictures Releasing president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning. "And there were very good exit polls on that segment (of the audience). It was 80% in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good) and a 74% definite recommend. Those are numbers that certainly encourage us that we can go forward with this group. Actually, the reaction of the males that attended really was pretty good, also, but not many males attended."
Blake also pointed out, "It's a $19 million picture and should turn out fine (in terms of Sony not getting hurt on it)."
Universal's "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas," the PG rated prequel to the 1996 "Flintstones" blockbuster, which was third last week, tied for fourth place in its third week with a still-lively ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-28%) at 3,128 theaters (+77 theaters; $1,535 per theater). Its cume is approximately $24.6 million, heading for about $35 million in domestic theaters.
"'Flintstones' is still the only family film (in the marketplace now)," Universal's Rocco said. "So we are pleased with its holding power this weekend. Hopefully, there will be room for it in the (coming) marketplace. Next weekend when 'Dinosaur' opens, it will just stimulate the family business."
20th Century Fox's PG-13-rated drama "Where the Heart Is" dropped two pegs to seventh place in its third week with a slower beating ESTIMATED $3.6 million (-30%) at 2,410 theaters (-29 theaters; $1,494 per theater). Its cume is approximately $21.1 million.
"Heart," which cost about $15 million to make, was picked up by Fox for domestic and English speaking territories for only $9 million.
Universal's PG-13-rated comedy "Screwed" opened quietly in eighth place to an ESTIMATED $3.4 million at 1,759 theaters ($1,935 per theater), not nearly as well as its 12% first-choice tracking had suggested would be the case.
New Line's PG-13-rated urban appeal drama "Love & Basketball" moved down court three positions in its fourth week to ninth place with a calm ESTIMATED $2.0 million (-39%) at 1,047 theaters (-145 theaters; $1,910 per theater). Its cume is approximately $22.3 million, heading for about $30 million.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Buena Vista/Touchstone's PG-13-rated romantic comedy "Keeping the Faith," down three notches in its fifth week with a slower ESTIMATED $1.9 million (-32%) at 1,569 theaters (-445 theaters; $1,179 per theatre). Its cume is approximately $32.3 million.
Last weekend also saw the arrival of Trimark Pictures' PG-13-rated urban appeal action romance "Held Up." Exhibitor Relations reported an estimate of $1.9 million, which would tie it for 10th place. Other distributors' estimates, however, had 'Held Up' coming in as low as $1.61 million, placing it 12th at 688 theaters ($2,340 per theater).
Miramax Films opened its R-rated contemporary version of "Hamlet," placing 26th with an encouraging ESTIMATED $0.061 million at 4 theaters in New York and Los Angeles ($15,250 per theater).
"We'll go to the top 10 markets this Friday on about 15 screens," Miramax senior vice president, marketing David Kaminow said Sunday morning.
DreamWorks held sneak previews Friday night of its R-rated youth comedy "Road Trip" at 800 theaters.
"They were very good," DreamWorks distribution head Jim Tharp said Sunday morning. "The reaction was very positive and over 90% in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good). It ran 60-70% capacity."
"Trip" opens Friday (5/19) at about 2,400 theaters.
On the expansion front, Paramount Classics' R-rated drama about teen suicide, "The Virgin Suicides" expanded in its fourth week, placing 19th with a weak ESTIMATED $0.62 million at 270 theaters (+170 theaters; $2,285 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.7 million.
Miramax's R-rated comedy "East Is East" added a few theaters in its fifth week, placing 23rd with a quiet ESTIMATED $0.21 million at 63 theaters (+2 theaters; $3,330 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.3 million.
Sony's Screen Gems label expanded its R-rated digitally shot comedy "Time Code" in its third week, placing 24th with an unexciting ESTIMATED $0.14 million at 42 theaters (+35 theaters; $3,214 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.4 million.
Lions Gate Films' R-rated dark comedy "The Big Kahuna" went wider in its third week, placing 25th with an okay ESTIMATED $0.11 million at 16 theaters (+8 theaters; $6,737 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.3 million.
Miramax's R-rated comedy "Human Traffic" widened in its second week, placing 27th with a stop-and-go ESTIMATED $0.034 at 26 theaters (+21 theaters; $1,325 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.05 million.
Written and directed by Justin Kerrigan, it stars John Simm, Lorraine Pilkington, Shaun Parkes, Danny Dyer, Nicola Reynolds and Dean Davies.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend -- took in approximately $79.40 million, up about 25.37% from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $63.33 million.
This weekend's key film gross was down about 3.43% from this year's previous weekend, when key films grossed $82.22 million.
Last year, Universal's second week of "The Mummy" was first with $24.86 million at 3,226 theaters ($7,705 per theater); and 20th Century Fox's third week of "Entrapment" was second with $9.08 million at 2,879 theaters ($3,153 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $34.0 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $36.6 million.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES
Based on business by key films (those grossing $500,000 or more), last weekend's top six distributors were:
DreamWorks was first with two films ("Gladiator" and "The Road to El Dorado"), grossing an ESTIMATED $24.96 million or 31.4% of the market.
Warner Bros. was third with one film ("Battlefield Earth"), grossing an ESTIMATED $12.32 million or 15.5% of the market.
20th Century Fox was sixth with one film ("Where the Heart Is"), grossing an ESTIMATED $3.6 million or 4.5% of the market.
(11)Erin Brockovich/Universal: Theaters: 1,486 (-456) Gross: $1.64 million (-25%) Average per theater: $1,105 Cume: $118.4 million
(12)HELD UP/Trimark: (see above)
(13)28 Days/Columbia: Theaters: 1,755 (-658) Gross: $1.5 million (-36%) Average per theater: $855 Cume: $34.4 million
(14)Rules of Engagement/Paramount: Theaters: 1,618 (-643) Gross: $1.46 million (-40%) Average per theater: $900 Cume: $56.4 million
(15)I Dreamed Of Africa/Columbia: Theaters: 2,112 (0) Gross: $1.4 million (-42%) Average per theater: $663 Cume: $4.8 million
(16)Final Destination/New Line: Theaters: 944 (-159) Gross: $1.18 million (-28%) Average per theater: $1,245 Cume: $49.8 million
(17)Return to Me/MGM: Theaters: 1,203 (-500) Gross: $1.06 million (-30%) Average per theater: $880 Cume: $28.9 million
(18)The Road to El Dorado/DreamWorks: Theaters: 1,027 (-501) Gross: $0.66 million (-28%) Average per theater: $640 Cume: $48.7 million
(19)The Virgin Suicides/Paramount Classics: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(20)High Fidelity/BV: Theaters: 361 (-191) Gross: $0.57 million (-23%) Average per theater: $1,590 Cume: $24.2 million
(21)The Skulls/Universal: Theaters: 573 (-296) Gross: $0.45 million (-34%) Average per theater: $785 Cume: $34.2 million
(22)Up At The Villa/USA Films: Theaters: 87 (-2) Gross: $0.29 million (-16%) Average per theater: $3,275 Cume: $0.8 million
(23)East Is East/Miramax: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(24)Time Code/Sony/Screen Gems: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(25)The Big Kahuna/Lions Gate: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(26)HAMLET/Miramax: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(27)Human Traffic/Miramax: (see EXPANSIONS above)