Universal's "Meet the Parents" continued to meet box office success, becoming the year's third film to place first for three consecutive weeks.
The PG-13-rated comedy was still laughing all the way to the bank in its third weekend with an estimated $16.32 million (-23%) at 2,619 theaters (+4 theaters; $6,230 per theater). Its cume is approximately $81.0 million, heading for a domestic theatrical gross of $130 million or more.
"Parents'" international release is through DreamWorks Pictures, which co-financed the film and will share equally in its success.
"Parents" had the highest per-theater average for any film playing in wide release last weekend.
"Being number one for the third week in a row is extraordinary," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. "It's only been twice this year that that's happened. The last time was with 'Erin Brockovich' (also from Universal) and the time before was in February with 'The Whole Nine Yards' (from Warner Bros.). Two of the three are ours. Of course, we went through the entire summer without anything being number one for three weeks in a row."
Asked where "Parents" is heading in domestic theaters, Rocco replied, "I'm sure it will go to $130 million, at least."
The film is playing so well, she explained, because it's "a broad appeal comedy."
Rocco also pointed with pleasure to Universal's critically-acclaimed, R-rated drama "Billy Elliot," the first title from the studio's new Universal Focus banner. "Billy" expanded gracefully in its second week and tied for 17th place with an estimated $0.5 million at 38 theaters (+28 theaters; $13,240 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.8 million.
'Billy Elliot' is coming along nicely," Rocco said. "It's a very slow roll out. The new engagements looked spectacular. We had solid increases in the old engagements, where we didn't expand in the marketplace. So we're very happy and will continue to roll out.
"We did another set of exit polls this weekend. Once again, it was (very strong) with 96% in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good) and an 80% definite recommend, which only proves that last weekend's exit polls were very solid. The numbers are strong and they're well above average. People's top reason for coming to see it was the story and the reviews."
20th Century Fox's PG-13-rated comedy "Bedazzled" opened with better-than-anticipated energy to a sparkling estimated $13.72 million at 2,568 theaters ($5,344 per theater).
"We feel great about it," Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said Sunday morning. "The whole market looks like it's come back pretty strong. 'Meet the Parents' won't go away. Even with another comedy coming in, it's real strong. The marketplace is terrific. We're very pleased."
What audience is it attracting? "It looks like everybody," Snyder replied, "because we've got kids coming Saturday afternoon, also. We're off to a good start."
Warner Bros.' PG-13-rated drama "Pay It Forward" kicked off in fourth place with a very encouraging estimated $10.16 million at 2,130 theaters ($4,768 per theater).
"The exits are sensational," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "We had 91% in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good). We had 80% definite recommend, which is huge. So I think this movie is going to leg it out.
"We seemed to be hurt more than any more last night because of the World Series. We're playing to a much older audience (than other films in the Top Five). In New York, 'Titans' was up 23% (from Friday), 'Bedazzled' was up 7%, 'Parents' up 14%. We were up zero."
Asked if "Forward" will go wider this weekend, Fellman replied, "We're not going to spread. We're going to hang in and see how we hold the second week. Hopefully, the Yankees will finish (the Series) off quickly."
Buena Vista/Disney's PG-rated football drama "Remember the Titans" from producer Jerry Bruckheimer gave up two yards on the box office gridiron in its fourth weekend, still holding well in fourth place with an estimated $10.0 million (-23%) at 2,801 theaters (+75 theaters; $3,545 per theater). Its cume is approximately $77.4 million.
Dimension Films' R-rated action adventure "The Legend of Drunken Master" opened with less energy than insiders anticipated, placing fifth with an estimated $3.7 million at 1,342 theaters ($2,757 per theater).
Directed by Lau Ka Leung, it stars Jackie Chan.
DreamWorks' R-rated political thriller "The Contender" fell one ballot to sixth place in its second week with an okay estimated $3.6 million (-33%) at 1,571 theaters (+55 theaters; $2,274 per theater). Its cume is approximately $10.6 million.
New Line's R-rated horror thriller "Lost Souls" plunged four pegs to seventh place in its second weekend with a calm estimated $3.25 million (-59%) at 1,970 theaters (theater count unchanged; $1,650 per theater). Its cume is approximately $12.9 million.
Warner Bros.' reissue of its R-rated 1973 horror classic "The Exorcist" dropped two notches to eighth place in its fifth week with a less scary $2.9 million (-45%) at 1,708 theaters (+53 theaters; $1,698 per theater). Its cume is approximately $34.8 million, heading for $40 million or more in domestic theaters.
"Halloween's coming up and that should give us a push," Warners' Fellman reminded. "So we'll get into the $40 millions."
Paramount's R-rated urban appeal comedy "The Ladies Man" slid five rungs to ninth place in its second week with an unloved estimated $2.85 million (-47%) at 2,043 theaters (+21 theaters; $1,395 per theater). Its cume is approximately $9.7 million.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Artisan Entertainment's R-rated romantic comedy "Dr. T and the Women ," down three slots in its second week with an unexciting estimated $2.5 million (-50%) at 1,489 theaters (theater count unchanged; $1,678 per theater). Its cume is approximately $9.1 million.
OTHER OPENINGS This weekend also saw the arrival of Keystone Entertainment's PG-rated family film "MVP: Most Valuable Primate," placing 22nd with a slow estimated $0.14 million at 185 theaters ($745 per theater).
Directed by Robert Vince, it stars Kevin Zegers and Jamie Renee Smith.
Miramax's R-rated suspense drama "The Yards" opened in New York, L.A. and Chicago, placing 26th with a short estimated $0.052 million at 8 theaters ($6,500 per theater).
Miramax's G-rated documentary "Calle 54" opened in New York for a one week Oscar qualifying run, placing 27th with a quiet estimated $8,000 at 1 theater.
Directed by Fernando Trueba, it stars Paquito D'Rivera and Tito Puente.
SNEAK PREVIEWS There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
EXPANSIONS On the expansion front, Warner Bros.' PG-13-rated comedy "Best in Show" went wider in its fourth week, placing 11th with a still-promising estimated $2.16 million (+1%) at 497 theatres (+206 theaters; $4,346 per theater). Its cume is approximately $6.8 million.
New Line's R-rated Spike Lee satire "Bamboozled" went wider in its third week, placing 18th with a calm estimated $0.43 million at 244 theaters (+227 theaters; $1,742 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.8 million.
Universal's R-rated drama "Billy Elliot," the first title from the studio's new Universal Focus banner, added theaters in its second week and tied for 16th place with a very encouraging estimated $0.5 million at 38 theaters (+28 theaters; $13,240 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.8 million.
(Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco's comments about "Billy" are included in today's Top Ten grosses report.)
Fine Line's R-rated drama "Dancer in the Dark" went slightly wider in its fifth week, placing 19th with a dull estimated $0.33 million (-17%) at 126 theaters (+3 theaters; $2,595 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.8 million.
Artisan Entertainment's controversial unrated drama "Requiem For A Dream" expanded in its third week, placing 25th with a still sexy estimated $0.087 million at 5 theaters (+3 theaters; $17,400 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.3 million.
"We just opened up our second market, L.A., and the numbers were tremendous," Artisan distribution head Steve Rothenberg said Sunday morning. "We got a great review in the L.A. Times. The (Laemmle) Sunset, alone, is going to do about $26,000, which for L.A. is a pretty darn good (gross).
"On Nov. 3 we go into the top 12 cities. We're in New York and L.A. now. Then we go into San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Philly, D.C., etc."
WEEKEND COMPARISONS Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend -- took in approximately $76.48 million, up about 9.68% from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $69.73 million.
This weekend's key film gross was down a marginal 0.65% from this year's previous weekend when key films grossed $76.98 million.
Last year, Universal's opening week of "The Best Man" was first with $9.03 million at 1,346 theaters ($6,710 per theater); and Paramount's fifth week of "Double Jeopardy" was second with $7.62 million at 3,002 theaters ($2,539 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $16.6 million. This year, the top two films grossed an estimated $30.0 million.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES Based on business by key films (those grossing $500,000 or more), last weekend's top six distributors were:
Buena Vista (Disney and Touchstone) was fourth with one film ("Remember the Titans"), grossing an estimated $10.0 million or 13.1% of the market.
Miramax (Miramax and Dimension) was sixth with one film ("The Legend of Drunken Master"), grossing an estimated $3.7 million or 4.8% of the market.
ADDITIONAL ESTIMATES (11)Best In Show/Warner Bros.: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(12)Almost Famous/DreamWorks: Theaters: 1,707 (-555) Gross: $1.33 million (-39%) Average per theater: $780 Cume: $28.8 million
(13)Get Carter/Warner Bros.: Theaters: 1,925 (-390) Gross: $1.09 million (-63%) Average per theater: $565 Cume: $13.9 million
(14)Bring It On/Universal: Theaters: 1,736 (-436) Gross: $1.04 million (-36%) Average per theater: $600 Cume: $66.2 million
(15)Digimon: The Movie/Fox: Theaters: 1,655 (-170) Gross: $0.87 million (-55%) Average per theater: $525 Cume: $8.5 million
(16)Billy Elliot/Universal Focus: (see EXPANSIONS above) (tie)
(16)Urban Legends: Final Cut/Columbia: Theaters: 1,081 (-1,140) Gross: $0.5 million (-58%) (tie) Average per theater: $465 Cume: $21.0 million
(18)Bamboozled/New Line: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(19)Dancer in the Dark/Fine Line: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(20)Nurse Betty/USA Films: Theaters: 516 (-502) Gross: $0.2 million (-59%) (tie) Average per theater: $390 Cume: $24.1 million
(20)Nutty Professor II: The Klumps/Universal: Theaters: 421 (-104) Gross: $0.20 million (-31%) (tie) Average per theater: $465 Cume: $122.1 million
(22)MVP: MOST VALUABLE PRIMATE/Keystone Ent.: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(23)The Watcher/Universal: Theaters: 351 (-520) Gross: $0.12 million (-70%) Average per theater: $330 Cume: $28.8 million
(24)Girlfight/Screen Gems/Sony: Theaters: 229 (-24) Gross: $0.11 million (-50%) Average per theater: $460 Cume: $1.4 million
(25)Requiem For A Dream/Artisan: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(26)THE YARDS/Miramax: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(27)CALLE 54/Miramax: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)