"Shaft" was the man this weekend, easily stealing first place at the box office from "Gone in 60 Seconds."
Paramount's R-rated urban appeal remake kicked off to a muscular estimated $21.1 million at 2,337 theaters ($9,029 per theater).
"Shaft's" per-theater average was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
"It's great. It's a good opening," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning.
"We're very pleased with it, obviously. Early on, we thought it would be $18-22 million, so it fell right in the range that we were looking at, and it's a little bit on the high side of it."
Asked who the film's audience was, Lewellen noted, "I haven't seen the exit polls yet. I think it must have played young, at least that's what our research told us up front. Young males are the primary audience. The picture plays well, at least it did in all of our research screenings."
The original "Shaft" opened in 1971, long before Hollywood began focusing on box office statistics and many years before studios began keeping computer databases of their grosses. It was followed by "Shaft's Big Score" in 1972 and "Shaft in Africa" in 1973.
The average admission price in 1971, according to a table of statistics in the National Association of Theater Owners' 1986 Encyclopedia of Exhibition, was $1.65. Distribution executives said they believed the original "Shaft" grossed about $25 million, which would have represented 15.2 million admissions. At today's average ticket price of about $4.87, the film's gross would be about $74 million.
Lewellen said he did not have details about what the original "Shaft" grossed but that, "I want to say something like $25 million - in that neighborhood. Someone made a comment that this picture could out-gross the original in three days. That (film opened) before people kept up with that stuff as closely as we do today. Of course, if you think about it, you can't relate those dollars to these dollars (today) for admissions. The first one initially wasn't even that successful. It was after the music became so popular that it sort of took off."
Buena Vista/Touchstone's PG-13-rated action thriller "Gone In 60 Seconds" slid sharply to second place in its second weekend with a slower estimated $14.7 million (-42 percent) at 3,049 theaters (+43 theaters; $4,824 per theater). Its cume is approximately $51.9 million.
20th Century Fox's PG-13 comedy "Big Momma's House" held on to third place in its third week with a still hefty estimated $11.3 million (-35 percent) at 2,853 theaters (-1 theater; $3,961 per theater). Its cume is approximately $70.7 million, on its way to $90 million or more.
"It's going towards $90 million now," Tom Sherak, 20th Domestic Film Group chairman and senior executive vice president of Fox Filmed Entertainment, said Sunday morning.
"Can it get to $100 million? Depends on what happens in the next couple of weeks."
Paramount's blockbuster "Mission: Impossible 2" skidded two notches to fourth place in its fourth week with a less exciting estimated $10.9 million (-37 percent) at 3,633 theaters (-36 theaters; $3,000 per theater).
The PG-13-rated action adventure sequel's cume is approximately $176.1 million, heading for $210-220 million in domestic theaters. The first "Mission" did $181 million domestically.
"It's $200 million-plus," Paramount's Lewellen predicted. "This is a little better hold, frankly, than I had projected. I had projected about $10 million for this weekend, so it's about $1 million above my projection. This puts it in the $210-220 million range. But it's always difficult to call, because if it happens to hold on better or continue to hold on better than we thought, obviously it would go beyond that."
20th Century Fox's PG-rated animated feature "Titan A.E." arrived quietly in a fifth place orbit with an estimated $9.5 million at 2,733 theaters ($3,476 per theater).
"We wish it would have been more, but every day is summer now, so hopefully we will get back some of this money during the week," Tom Sherak, 20th Domestic Film Group chairman and senior executive vice president of Fox Filmed Entertainment, said Sunday morning.
"The market's down about 25 percent from last year. The market being down, all these movies are caught in a period where people are doing something else. We have to turn the market back on to moviegoing. If you're looking for good news, every day's a holiday (in the summer) and, hopefully, it will get a little bit better."
Dimension Films' PG-13-rated teen appeal romantic comedy "Boys and Girls" opened in sixth place with a not so sexy estimated $7.0 million at 1,983 theaters ($3,530 per theater).
Buena Vista/Disney's PG-rated, computer-animated feature "Dinosaur" fell three notches to seventh place in its fifth weekend with a slow estimated $5.8 million (-33 percent) at 2,938 theaters (-337 theaters; $1,985 per theater). Its cume is approximately $120.5 million, heading for $140 million or more in domestic theaters.
DreamWorks' R-rated action adventure "Gladiator" dropped three pegs to eighth place in its seventh week with a less exciting estimated $4.9 million (-30 percent) at 2,266 theaters (-440 theaters; $2,179 per theater). Its cume is approximately $158.6 million, heading for $170 million or more in domestic theaters.
"Gladiator" is half owned by Universal, which is releasing it internationally.
Buena Vista/Touchstone and Spyglass Entertainment's PG-13-rated action comedy "Shanghai Noon" fell three rungs to ninth place in its fourth weekend with a dull estimated $3.6 million (-39 percent) at 2,126 theaters (-625 theaters; $1,685 per theater). Its cume is approximately $47.8 million, heading for $50 million in domestic theaters.
Rounding out the Top Ten was DreamWorks' R-rated youth appeal comedy "Road Trip," down three notches in its fifth week with a slow estimated $3.1 million (-37 percent) at 2,151 theaters (-435 theaters; $1,428 per theater). Its cume is approximately $60.2 million.
OTHER OPENINGS Buena Vista/Disney's G-rated animated feature "Fantasia 2000" appeared in 11th place with an unexciting estimated $2.8 million at 1,313 theaters ($2,151 per theater).
Earlier this year, "Fantasia 2000" grossed $54 million from its very successful big-screen IMAX domestic release.
Lions Gate Films' R-rated drama "Jesus' Son" opened at one theater in New York (the Union Square), placing 18th with an encouraging estimated $37,000.
"It did really well," Lions Gate co-president Tom Ortenberg said Sunday morning. "We open up Los Angeles June 23, and we go into our spread on July 7. It's really a great launch. Even with the $37,000, we sold out five or six shows. We still could use more seats. We're looking at a film that would have grossed $40,000 or $50,000. I think we're really off and running."
Miramax's R-rated drama "Butterfly" opened in New York and Los Angeles, placing 19th with a calm estimated $30,000 at 3 theaters ($10,000 per theater).
"This weekend 'Butterfly' goes to the Top Ten markets, so about another 10 or 12 runs," Miramax senior vice president, marketing David Kaminow said Sunday morning.
"They went well," Tom Sherak, 20th Domestic Film Group chairman and senior executive vice president of Fox Filmed Entertainment, said Sunday morning.
"The majority of the people who went were 25-34 (years old), about 52 percent (of those on hand). The 15-24 (age gro p) was 30 percent, so the majority was where it should be. It was 60 percent male, 40 percent female. The top two boxes (excellent and very good) were 75 percent."
"Irene" opens June 23 at about 2,800 theaters.
DreamWorks held sneak previews Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. of its G-rated animated feature "Chicken Run." No details were available Sunday morning.
EXPANSIONS On the expansion front, Miramax's PG-rated romantic musical comedy "Love's Labour's Lost" went wider in its second week, placing 20th with a quiet estimated $0.024 million at 8 theaters (+6 theaters; $3,062 per theater).
WEEKEND COMPARISONS Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend -- took in approximately $97.17 million, down about 21.28 percent from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $123.44 million.
This weekend's key film gross was up about 4.67 percent from this year's previous weekend when key films grossed $92.83 million.
Last year, Buena Vista's opening week of "Tarzan" was first with $34.22 million at 3,005 theaters ($11,388 per theater); and New Line's second week of "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" was second with $31.41 million at 3,314 theaters ($9,477 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $65.6 million. This year, the top two films grossed an estimated $35.8 million.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES Based on business by key films (those grossing $500,000 or more), last weekend's top six distributors were:
Paramount was first with two films ("Shaft" and "Mission: Impossible 2"), grossing an estimated $32.0 million or 32.9 percent of the market.
Buena Vista (Disney and Touchstone) was second with four films("Gone in 60 Seconds," "Dinosaur," "Fantasia 2000" and "Shanghai Noon"), grossing an estimated $26.9 million or 27.7 percent of the market.
20th Century Fox was third with two films ("Big Momma's House" and "Where the Heart Is"), grossing an estimated $20.80 million or 21.4 percent of the market.
Miramax (Miramax and Dimension) was fifth with one film ("Boys and Girls"), grossing an estimated $7.00 million or 7.2 percent of the market.
New Line was sixth with one film ("Frequency"), grossing an estimated $0.91 million or 0.9 percent of the market.
ADDITIONAL ESTIMATES (11)FANTASIA 2000/Buena Vista/Disney: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(12)Small Time Crooks/DreamWorks: Theaters: 612 (-274) Gross: $0.94 million (-32 percent) Average per theater: $1,535 Cume: $14.8 million
(13)Frequency/New Line: Theaters: 777 (-442) Gross: $0.91 million (-38 percent) Average per theater: $1,165 Cume: $41.8 million
(14)U-571/Universal: Theaters: 688 (-484) Gross: $0.62 million (-41 percent) Average per theater: $905 Cume: $74.1 million
(15)Erin Brockovich/Universal: Theaters: 485 (-158) Gross: $0.34 million (-37 percent) Average per theater: $690 Cume: $123.8 million
(16)The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas/Universal: Theaters: 566 (-307) Gross: $0.31 million (-40 percent) Average per theater: $555 Cume: $32.7 million
(17)Up at the Villa/USA Films: Theaters: 110 (-2) Gross: $0.13 million (-32 percent) Average per theater: $1,175 Cume: $2.3 million
(18)JESUS' SON/Lions Gate: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(19)BUTTERFLY/Miramax: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(20)Love's Labour's Lost/Miramax: (see EXPANSIONS above)