"M:I-2" escaped with an estimated $27 million (-53 percent) at 3,653 theaters (theater count unchanged; $7,355 per theater). The PG-13-rated action adventure sequel's cume is approximately $130.7 million.
The original "Mission" dropped 52 percent in its second weekend (May 31-June 2, 1996) and had a cume at that point of $107.2 million. The sequel's cume is running about 22 percent ahead of the original.
Paramount had anticipated a drop of 50-55 percent for "M:I-2's" second weekend, saying that was the range to expect after having just opened to blockbuster business for the four-day Memorial Day weekend.
"M:I-2" should wind up grossing $200-250 million in domestic theaters and $300-350 million in international theaters. Its worldwide cume should total $500-600 million. The first "Mission" did $181 million domestically and $284 million internationally for a worldwide cume of $465 million.
(NOTE: Today's percentage drops are calculated against the Friday-Sunday portion of the previous four-day holiday weekend.)
The weekend's big story, however, was 20th Century Fox's PG-13 comedy "Big Momma's House."
"Momma," this weekend's only wide opening, was a hefty second with a full-figured estimated $25.6 million at 2,802 houses ($9,136 per theater). Insiders said Fox's decision to go for a PG-13 rather than an R rating was a key factor in achieving its solid success.
"Momma's" per-theater average was the highest for any film playing in wide or limited release this weekend.
"Momma" out-performed industry expectations that it would gross around $20 million given its strong tracking scores going into the weekend. Insiders said late last week that the film had 83 percent awareness and 43 percent definite interest and was a 13 percent overall first choice and a 59 percent first choice for African-Americans.
"In the immortal words of Bobby Carradine in 'Revenge of the Nerds II' - 'We're back,'" a very pleased Tom Sherak, 20th Domestic Film Group chairman and senior executive vice president of Fox Filmed Entertainment, said Sunday morning.
"For us, it's the beginning of what we think will be a big summer. We have 'Titan A.E.' next and then 'Me, Myself & Irene' and then 'X-Men' and then 'Bedazzled'. This couldn't start the summer off better."
Sherak said Fox's exit poll scores "were incredible. Excellent was 60 percent, very good was 28 percent -- 88% in the Top Two Boxes. Definite recommend was 80 percent overall." Young males, he added, gave it a definite recommend of over 90 percent.
Who was "Momma's" core audience? "The core audience was young females - 58 percent of the audience was under 25 and 60 percent was female," Sherak replied. "It played huge urban and very good white. You see it crossing over already. There's no color in this. The small little markets did what the small little markets normally do. But the theaters that cross over were huge. When you get to totally white America, the numbers aren't as good, but they're okay."
Emphasizing that the film has good playability for a broad audience, Sherak added, "The critics missed this one. Let's keep a record of how they're doing."
Buena Vista/Disney's PG-rated computer animated feature "Dinosaur" took one step down to third place in its third weekend with a less bulky estimated $12.0 million (-52 percent) at 3,319 theaters (+17 theaters; $3,616 per theater). Its cume is approximately $96.8 million, heading for $170 million-plus in domestic theaters.
Buena Vista/Touchstone and Spyglass Entertainment's PG-13-rated action comedy "Shanghai Noon" fell one rung to fourth place in its second weekend with a less happy estimated $8.6 million (-45 percent) at 2,745 theaters (+34 theaters; $3,133 per theater). Its cume is approximately $31.9 million.
DreamWorks' R-rated action adventure "Gladiator" slipped one notch to fifth place in its sixth week, still fighting hard with an estimated $8.1 million (-40 percent) at 3,056 theaters (-132 theaters; $2,651 per theater). Its cume is approximately $138.7 million, heading for $175-200 million in domestic theaters.
"Gladiator's" 40 percent drop was the lowest for any film in this weekend's Top Five.
"Gladiator" is half owned by Universal, which is releasing it internationally.
DreamWorks' R-rated youth appeal comedy "Road Trip" finished sixth, down one peg in its third week but showing good legs with an estimated $6.7 million (-39 percent) at 2,654 theaters (+23 theaters; $2,524 per theater). Its cume is approximately $45.5 million.
New Line's "Frequency" held on to seventh place in its sixth week, continuing to show terrific legs with an estimated $2.1 million (-27 percent) at 1,605 theaters (-198 theaters; $1,293 per theater). Its cume is approximately $38.0 million, heading for about $45 million in domestic theaters.
"Every week, it's had minimal drops," New Line distribution head David Tuckerman said Sunday morning. "The picture's actually doing exactly what we thought it would do - once we got it in the marketplace, word of mouth would carry it."
DreamWorks' Woody Allen PG-rated comedy "Small Time Crooks" dropped two rungs to eighth place in its third week, still holding well with an estimated $1.7 million (-45 percent) at 874 theaters (+45 theaters; $1,945 per theater). Its cume is approximately $11.2 million.
"U-571," Universal's PG-13 World War II submarine drama, descended one notch to ninth place in its seventh week with a quiet estimated $1.42 million (-45 percent) at 1,591 theaters (-453 theaters; $892 per theater). Its cume is approximately $71.0 million, heading for about $75 million in domestic theaters.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Columbia's PG-13-rated youth appeal dance film "Center Stage," down one slot in its fourth weekend with a calm estimated $1.1 million (-49 percent) at 1,362 theaters (-144 theaters; $808 per theater). Its cume is approximately $14.4 million.
OTHER OPENINGS Columbia's G-rated family drama "Running Free" opened in 21st place to a slow estimated $0.055 million at 100 theaters ($545 per theater).
SNEAK PREVIEWS This weekend saw no national sneak previews.
EXPANSIONS On the expansion front, Miramax's R-rated comedy "East Is East" added a few more theaters in its eighth week, placing 17th with a quiet estimated $0.25 million at 157 theaters (+3 theaters; $1,575 per theater). Its cume is approximately $2.4 million.
USA Films' PG-13-rated drama "Up At The Villa" went a little wider in its fifth week, placing 18th with a dull estimated $0.19 million (-18 percent) at 112 theaters (+4 theaters; $1,685 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.8 million.
Paramount Classics' PG-13-rated drama "Passion of Mind" went wider in its second week, placing 20th with a weak estimated $0.099 million (-47 percent) at 122 theaters (+18 theaters; $815 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.4 million.
WEEKEND COMPARISONS Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend -- took in approximately $96.89 million, up about 19.86 percent from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $80.83 million for four days.
This weekend's key film gross for three days cannot be compared to this year's previous weekend, which was a four day holiday weekend.
Last year, 20th Century Fox's third week of "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" was first with $32.89 million at 3,024 theaters ($10,877 per theater); and Universal's second week of "Notting Hill" was second with $15.01 million at 2,752 theaters ($5,455 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $47.9 million. T is year, the top two films grossed an estimated $52.6 million.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES Based on business by key films (those grossing $500,000 or more), last weekend's top six distributors were:
New Line was sixth with one film ("Frequency"), grossing an estimated $2.1 million or 2.2 percent of the market.
ADDITIONAL ESTIMATES (11)Where the Heart Is/Fox: Theaters: 1,087 (-281) Gross: $1.0 million (-37 percent) Average per theater: $920 Cume: $30.1 million
(12)Erin Brockovich/Universal: Theaters: 736 (-62) Gross: $0.55 million (-36 percent) Average per theater: $750 Cume: $122.3 million
(13)Rules of Engagement/Paramount: Theaters: 555 (-238) Gross: $0.51 million (-15 percent) Average per theater: $920 Cume: $60.2 million
(14)The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas/Universal: Theaters: 1,105 (-386) Gross: $0.50 million (-60 percent) Average per theater: $455 Cume: $30.9 million
(15)Love & Basketball/New Line: Theaters: 450 (-90) Gross: $0.4 million (-49 percent) Average per theater: $889 Cume: $26.0 million
(16)Battlefield Earth/Warner Bros./Franchise Pictures: Theaters: 641 (-1,946) Gross: $0.25 million (-70 percent) Average per theater: $390 Cume: $20.9 million
(17)East Is East/Miramax: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(18)Up at the Villa/USA Films: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(19)Screwed/Universal: Theaters: 242 (-561) Gross: $0.1 million (-70 percent) Average per theater: $415 Cume: $7.0 million
(20)Passion Of Mind/Paramount Classics: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(21)RUNNING FREE/Columbia: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)