Jennifer Lopez's "The Cell" easily locked up first place at this weekend's box office.
The R-rated fantasy suspense thriller from New Line opened to a sexy ESTIMATED $17.2 million at 2,411 theaters ($7,134 per theater).
"Obviously, we're thrilled with the opening," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman said Sunday morning. "It shows that Jennifer Lopez is a star and can open a picture. Also, the two Vinces - Vaughn and D'Onofrio - were very strong, as they always are."
New Line clearly had perfect timing entering the summer marketplace with "Cell." "We picked the date at the beginning of this year," Tuckerman noted. "We've had great luck in August with our films (like 'Blade,' which opened to $17.1 million the weekend of Aug. 21-23, 1998). The picture itself is visually stunning and wildly inventive."
On the marketing front, Tuckerman applauded the campaign done by New Line marketing president Joe Nimziki and his team: "As usual, Joe found a way to sell the picture in unusual ways. We had three different one-sheets in the theaters (hanging side by side in many houses). That's the way they were laid out to be. Obviously, in some theaters you can't get that done. But, for the most part, the theater owners cooperated and did it where they could.
The trailer was spectacular, a great selling tool."
Directed by Tarsem, "Cell" stars Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn and Vincent D'Onofrio.
Paramount's R-rated Spike Lee documentary comedy "The Original Kings of Comedy" kicked off in second place with a hefty ESTIMATED $11.7 million at 847 theaters ($13,813 per theater). Its per-theater average was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
"This is great," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "Frankly, we were hoping to get a $10,000 per theater average, and we're about 33% better than that. That would have given us about $8.5 million. So we're very pleased."
Will Paramount go any wider with "Kings?" "Only strategically," Lewellen replied. "If there are some theaters in some of the urban markets that we didn't cover - I don't really think there's going to be that much - and, perhaps, some of the smaller markets. But it will not be a 200 or 300 print increase."
Directed by Spike Lee, "Kings" stars Steve Harvey, D. L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Bernie Mac.
Warner Bros. PG-13 sci-fi action adventure "Space Cowboys" fell one orbit in its third week to third place, holding well with an ESTIMATED $9.9 million (-24%) at 2,870 theaters (+35 theaters; $3,449 per theater). Its cume is approximately $54.2 million.
"I think it's going to go north of $80 million," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "It's great. The picture is exceeding the box office of 'Unforgiven,' and it's neck and neck with 'In the Line of Fire' (two prior Eastwood hits). Both of those movies did (over) $100 million."
Directed by Clint Eastwood, "Space" stars Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner and Donald Sutherland.
Warner Bros.' PG-13-rated football action comedy "The Replacements" lost one yard in its second week, placing fourth and holding nicely with an ESTIMATED $7.52 million (-28%) at 2,754 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,729 per theater). Its cume is approximately $23.7 million, heading for $50 million.
Directed by Howard Deutch, "Replacements" stars Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman.
DreamWorks PG-13-rated supernatural thriller "What Lies Beneath" rose one rung in its fifth week to fifth place with a still solid ESTIMATED $7.1 million (-28%) at 2,760 theaters (-165 theaters; $2,557 per theater). Its cume is approximately $123.7 million.
"Beneath" is a co-production of DreamWorks, which is releasing it domestically, and 20th Century Fox, which is distributing it internationally.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis, "Beneath" stars Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer.
The weekend's other high-profile, wide opening, Sony Pictures Releasing's launch via its TriStar label of Toho Pictures' "Godzilla 2000," missed the top ten. "Godzilla 2000" arrived in eleventh place to an ESTIMATED $4.6 million at 2,111 theaters ($2,179 per theater).
The film's modest opening looks better, however, considering the modest investment that Sony made to pick it up.
"Basically, it cost us $300,000 to acquire not only North America, but several other worldwide territories like Latin America and the U.K.," Sony Pictures Releasing president Jeff Blake explained Sunday morning. "This is a picture made a year ago that really had no plans to be theatrically released. We got it at a very cheap price and we spent modestly on prints and ads - under $10 million. So despite being eleventh, it's probably one of the more profitable pictures on the board this morning.
"We would certainly hope it could get to no worse than $12-15 million (in domestic theaters), which would be nothing but profit for us."
Universal and Imagine Entertainment's PG-13-rated comedy sequel "Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps" dropped one peg to sixth place in its fourth week with a less funny ESTIMATED $6.41 million (-37%) at 2,969 theaters (-282 theaters; $2,160 per theater). Its cume is approximately $104.4 million.
Directed by Peter Segal, it stars Eddie Murphy, Janet Jackson and Larry Miller.
Columbia's R-rated sci-fi thriller "Hollow Man" skidded six slots to seventh place in its third week with a less visible ESTIMATED $6.1 million (-53%) at 2,956 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,064 per theater). Its cume is approximately $61.7 million, heading for a domestic theatrical gross in the low $80 millions.
Directed by Paul Verhoeven, "Hollow" stars Elisabeth Shue and Kevin Bacon.
MGM's PG-13-rated romantic drama "Autumn in New York" began to fall after its strong opening without reviews one week earlier. "Autumn" dropped four rungs in its second week to eighth place with an ESTIMATED $5.7 million (-48%) at 2,282 theaters (+27 theaters; $2,498 per theater). Its cume is approximately $21.2 million.
Directed by Joan Chen, it stars Richard Gere and Winona Ryder.
Buena Vista/Touchstone's PG-13-rated romantic comedy "Coyote Ugly" dropped one notch in its third week to ninth place with a less attractive ESTIMATED $5.0 million (-37%) at 2,539 theaters (-125 theaters; $1,969 per theater). Its cume is approximately $43.8 million.
Directed by David McNally, "Coyote" stars Piper Perabo and Adam Garcia.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Paramount's R-rated supernatural thriller "Bless the Child," down three rungs in its second week with a calm ESTIMATED $4.9 million (-48%) at 2,521 theaters (-3 theaters; $1,944 per theater). Its cume is approximately $18.1 million.
Directed by Chuck Russell, "Child" stars Kim Basinger and Jimmy Smits.
Although DreamWorks' G-rated animated hit "Chicken Run" didn't place in the Top Ten, it enjoyed a milestone weekend. DreamWorks reported that it is now the studio's top grossing animated film, overtaking "Prince of Egypt."
"Chicken's" domestic theatrical cume is now $101.9 million. "Prince of Egypt" did $101.2 million in 1998.
Directed by Peter Lord & Nick Park, "Chicken" features such voices as Mel Gibson and Miranda Richardson.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Lions Gate Films' R-rated drama "Steal This Movie" in limited release, placing 25th with a quiet ESTIMATED $29,000 at 11 theaters ($2,585 per theater).
Directed by Robert Greenwald, it stars Vincent D'Onofrio, Janeane Garofalo and Jeanne Tripplehorn.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front this weekend, Fine Line Features' R-rated comedy "Saving Grace" widened in its third wee , placing 17th with an okay ESTIMATED $0.97 million at 255 theaters (+220 theaters; $3,800 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.9 million.
Directed by Nigel Cole, it stars Brenda Blethyn and Craig Ferguson.
Artisan Entertainment's R-rated dark comedy "Cecil B. Demented" expanded in its second week, placing 21st with a solid ESTIMATED $0.16 million (+28%) at 30 theaters (+21 theaters; $5,445 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.4 million.
Directed by John Waters, it stars Melanie Griffith and Stephen Dorff.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend -- took in approximately $96.83 million, down about 2.38% from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $99.18 million.
This weekend's key film gross was down about 4.64% from this year's previous weekend when key films grossed $101.54 million.
Last year, Buena Vista's third week of "The Sixth Sense" was first with $23.95 million at 2,688 theaters ($8,910 per theater); and Universal's second week of "Bowfinger" was second with $10.61 million at 2,717 theaters ($3,905 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $34.6 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $28.9 million.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES
Based on business by key films (those grossing $500,000 or more), last weekend's top six distributors were:
Warner Bros. was first with three films ("Space Cowboys," "The Perfect Storm" and "The Replacements"), grossing an ESTIMATED $19.35 million or 20.0% of the market.
New Line was second with one film ("The Cell"), grossing an ESTIMATED $17.2 million or 17.8% of the market.
Paramount was third with two films ("The Original Kings of Comedy" and "Bless the Child"), grossing an ESTIMATED $16.6 million or 17.1% of the market.
Sony Pictures Releasing (Columbia and TriStar) was fourth with three films ("Godzilla 2000," "The Hollow Man" and "The Patriot"), grossing an ESTIMATED $11.7 million or 12.1% of the market.
DreamWorks was fifth with two films("What Lies Beneath" and "Chicken Run"), grossing an ESTIMATED $8.06 million or 8.3% of the market.
Universal was sixth with one film ("Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps"), grossing an ESTIMATED $6.41 million or 6.6% of the market.
(12)X-Men/Fox: Theaters: 1,619 (-526) Gross: $2.55 million (-39%) Average per theater: $1,575 Cume: $148.6 million
(13)The Perfect Storm/Warner Bros.: Theaters: 1,417 (-521) Gross: $1.93 million (-30%) Average per theater: $1,362 Cume: $173.7 million
(14)Scary Movie/Miramax/Dimension: Theaters: 1,501 (-443) Gross: $1.4 million (-45%) Average per theater: $930 Cume: $147.5 million
(15)Disney's The Kid/Buena Vista/Disney: Theaters: 1,222 (-295) Gross: $1.3 million (-35%) Average per theater: $1,064 Cume: $64.5 million
(16)The Patriot/Columbia: Theaters: 842 (-410) Gross: $1.00 million (-31%) Average per theater: $1,188 Cume: $110.0 million
(17)Saving Grace/Fine Line: (See EXPANSIONS above)
(18)Chicken Run/DreamWorks: Theaters: 1,002 (-312) Gross: $0.96 million (-27%) Average per theater: $955 Cume: $101.9 million
(19)Thomas and the Magic Railroad/Destination Films: Theaters: 1,008 (-494) Gross: $0.6 million (-48%) Average per theater: $590 Cume: $14.6 million
(20)Pokemon: The Movie 2000/Warner Bros.: Theaters: 638 (-785) Gross: $0.4 million (-58%) Average per theater: $685 Cume: $41.8 million
(21)Cecil B. Demented/Artisan: (See EXPANSIONS above)
(22)Blood Simple/USA: Theaters: 61 (-6) Gross: $84,000 (-25%) Average per theater: $1,380 Cume: $1.3 million
(23)Wonderland/USA: Theaters: 25 (0) Gross: $45,000 (-31%) Average per theater: $1,780 Cume: $0.3 million
(24)Alice & Martin/USA: Theaters: 14 (+1) Gross: $41,000 (-20%) Average per theater: $2,964 Cume: $0.3 million
(25)STEAL THIS MOVIE/Lions Gate: (See OTHER OPENINGS above)