Dinosaurs snapped back to life this weekend as Buena Vista/Disney's "Dinosaur" kicked off to nearly $39 million.
The PG-rated, computer-animated feature, which cut short the chart-topping reign of DreamWorks' "Gladiator," set a record as the year's biggest opening with an estimated $38.6 million at 3,257 theaters ($11,860 per theater).
"Dinosaur's" per-theater average was the highest for any film playing in wide or limited release this weekend.
"I think it's great," Buena Vista Distribution president Chuck Viane said Sunday morning.
Noting that some studios had estimated the picture as opening to even bigger numbers, Viane said, "I know some of my competitors have given me more credit than we're giving ourselves, but I'd rather see it than say it and then have to back off. If tomorrow (when actual weekend figures are released) it's a bigger number, I won't be embarrassed to tell people I was low. Every now and then, that happens."
Focusing on the film's mid-May arrival, he noted, "We have not had the opportunity to open a movie this big when it wasn't on a holiday weekend. We're not in the summer and we're not on a holiday. We'll be the first to admit that we don't have a model we're as comfortable with as we are when we're matching apples to apples."
Viane pointed out that, looking at the film's grosses market by market, he was particularly pleased that, "We're as big in the inner city as we are in the suburbs. Normally, we're a very suburban-oriented group. Our films always play well at the malls. But it doesn't matter where you are or what theater - whether you're in San Antonio or the Rio Grande Valley or up in Minneapolis - across the board these are fabulous, fabulous numbers. And so consistent. It doesn't happen often, and you just really feel great when it does."
Viane said "Dinosaur" is Disney's third-biggest animated opening ever, "Behind 'Toy Story 2,' which was Thanksgiving (with $57.4 million the weekend of Nov. 26-28, 1999), and "Lion King," which was mid-summer (with $40.9 million the weekend of June 24-26, 1994). For 'Lion King,' every day (was) a holiday, including the day we opened. We out-grossed 'Lion King' Saturday (with 'Dinosaur'). We didn't do as well as 'Lion King' on Friday. Obviously, people were either at work or in school."
DreamWorks' R-rated action adventure "Gladiator" slid one peg to second place in its third week with a still-muscular estimated $19.1 million (-23 percent) at 3,041 theaters (+98 theaters; $6,281 per theater). Its cume is approximately $102.5 million, heading for $175-200 million in domestic theaters.
"It continues to have incredible word-of-mouth, which is generating substantial repeat business, including women, who are now almost 50 percent of our audience," DreamWorks distribution head Jim Tharp said Sunday morning.
"It really is encouraging. It went over the $100 million mark in 17 days, which actually is the same as 'The Mummy' last year. But 'Mummy' started out about $9 million ahead of us (from its opening weekend). This movie is holding extremely well. It's playing so well, it's unbelievable. And people are seeing this movie three and four times."
DreamWorks is distributing "Gladiator" domestically while Universal is releasing it abroad. The two studios are 50-50 partners, sharing equally in the success of "Gladiator," which reportedly cost $103 million to make.
DreamWorks also found preferred parking in third place with the high-speed arrival of its R-rated youth appeal comedy "Road Trip," opening to an estimated $15.0 million at 2,530 theaters ($5,929 per theater).
"It's off to a really good start," DreamWorks' Tharp said. "It's always great when the opening weekend of a movie grosses the movie's cost. We're very pleased with it. 'There's Something About Mary' in the summertime did about $13 million its first weekend, so this is, I think, a really good number. 'American Pie' was higher than this, but it was also in the summer, on July 9.
"Word-of-mouth is very positive. The only exit (data) I have is from the sneaks. It was 88 percent in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good)."
Overall, it was a terrific weekend for DreamWorks, which had two films in the Top Five, three in the Top Ten and saw "Gladiator" crack the $100 million mark.
"U-571," Universal's PG-13 World War II submarine drama, drifted down one rung to fourth place in its fifth week, still holding nicely with an estimated $4.61 million (-20 percent) at 2,736 theaters (-84 theaters; $1,685 per theater). Its cume is approximately $64.4 million, heading for about $75 million in domestic theaters.
"Frequency" dropped one slot to fifth place in its fourth week, continuing to hold really well with an estimated $4.3 million (-13 percent) at 2,202 theaters (-268 theaters; $1,953 per theater). Its cume is approximately $30.3 million, heading for about $40 million in domestic theaters.
"The drops are great," New Line executive vice president, distribution David Tuckerman said Sunday morning. "It's the fourth week in the marketplace (and it's only down) 13 percent. That's great."
Warner Bros. and Franchise Pictures' PG-13-rated sci-fi action adventure "Battlefield Earth" plunged four orbits to sixth place in its second weekend with a weak estimated $3.83 million (-67 percent) at 3,304 theaters (-3 theaters; $1,159 per theater). Its cume is approximately $18.2 million heading for about $25 million.
DreamWorks' Woody Allen PG-rated comedy "Small Time Crooks" opened in seventh place - only about $30,000 behind Warners' estimate for "Battlefield" - to an encouraging estimated $3.8 million at 865 theaters ($4,393 per theater).
"'Small Time Crooks' is just fantastic," DreamWorks' Tharp said. "You expect the biggest eight to 10 markets to do business on a Woody Allen movie. But this movie played on a broader basis. We actually attracted families this weekend. This did family business. I think the rating and the comedy and Tracey Ullman helped.
"We may add a few runs for the holiday weekend. We're going to add a few on 'Road Trip' for Memorial Day weekend, and we may look at this now. Going this wide was sort of an experiment. Most of (Allen's) movies open in just a few runs. But seeing how broad it did play, we actually may add some new runs in the next few weeks."
Columbia's PG-13-rated youth appeal dance film "Center Stage" slipped two slots to eighth place in its second weekend with a quiet estimated $3.3 million (-28 percent) at 1,506 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,191 per theater). Its cume is approximately $9.2 million.
20th Century Fox's PG-13-rated drama "Where the Heart Is" fell two notches to ninth place in its fourth week with a softer estimated $2.9 million (-29 percent) at 2,155 theaters (-256 theaters; $1,346 per theater). Its cume is approximately $25.8 million.
"Heart," which cost about $15 million to make, was picked up by Fox for domestic and English speaking territories for only $9 million.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Universal's "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas," the PG-rated prequel to the 1996 "Flintstones" blockbuster, down five rocks in its fourth week with a calm estimated $2.5 million (-46 percent) at 2,692 theaters (-433 theaters; $928 per theater). Its cume is approximately $27.8 million, heading for about $35 million in domestic theaters.
HOLLYWOOD, May 24, 2000 – If you're planning on seeing "Mission: Impossible 2" today, you can forget it. There's no such movie.
Say what? After all, aren't there billboards all over North America officially proclaiming today -- May 24 -- as opening day for the new Tom Cruise movie?
Right, but those billboards are for "M:I-2," or as it's more properly identified, The Movie Formerly Known As "Mission: Im ossible 2."
Confused? Well, we were too. So, we called the folks at Paramount, who started the confusion by telling everyone that the flick's title is "M:I-2." That's the way it's listed in all the studio's promotional materials, that's what's it's called in all the trailers, and on all the posters. In other words, says Paramount, "M:I-2" supposedly isn't an acronym for "Mission: Impossible 2," but just a catchy title in its own right.
So, what led Paramount to drop complete words from the title? Were they all caught up in the mad rush to come up with the next hip-sounding Hollywood acronym (Let's see, there was "T2," "ID4," "MiB" etc. Of course, each of those movies had real titles, too: "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," "Independence Day" and "Men in Black."
Paramount spokeswoman Susan Indri says the studio's not trying to be trendy.
"That's the name of the movie," Indri tells Hollywood.com. "But people have referred to it both ways."
OK, but are you trying to distance this flick from its 1996 predecessor? ("Mission," er, "M:I-2" helmer John Woo's a big-name director, and this film's supposedly a world apart from Brian DePalma's original.)
"Not at all," Indri says. "It's a sequel. Everyone knows that." And then, apparently disinterested in this discussion topic, she placed the telephone on its receiver.
But that doesn't exactly clarify matters. And adding to the confusion is this: At the beginning of "M:I-2," the movie's own main title card -- the traditional arbiter for what a movie's for-the-record-books title -- reads, yes, "Mission: Impossible II." And, yes, make note of the Roman numeral. Where did that come from? So, to sum up: A movie that should only have one name now has three: "M:I-2," "Mission: Impossible 2" and "Mission: Impossible II."
Just take a look at the news stand, and it's apparent that everyone is befuddled as to what this film's real name is. US magazine is calling the thing "Mission: Impossible 2," People magazine and The Associated Press are siding with "M:I-2." called it "M:I-2" in its latest issue; the Associated Press is calling it "M:I-2." (As for Hollywood.com, we were calling it "Mission: Impossible 2" until Tuesday, when we were informed that it's "M:I-2," stupid, even on the first reference.)
Even Paramount can't keep its story straight. On its Web site, the movie is, yes, referred to as "M:I-2," except, um, for the part about a "Mission: Impossible 2" (sheesh) sweepstakes.
There are some, however, who believe all this confusion-making is a stroke of brilliance.
"If you look at it from a marketing perspective, you can see that it's a nice angle," BenDavid Grabinski, a filmmaker who runs an unofficial Web site (http://www.angelfire.com/az/ScarabNET/miindex.html) about "M:I-2" (or whatever it's called), tells Hollywood.com.
"You have this nice small acronym that looks great on a poster. But also, Paramount wants this film to be looked at as a separate entity from the original. They don't want you to look at this is a sequel to the Brian De Palma film, they want you to see this as a John frickin' Woo film with all that that entails," Grabinski adds.
"But then again, it might confuse some people."
You can say that again.
"Storm" clouds unexpectedly dominated the July Fourth weekend box office skies, raining on what was expected to be Mel Gibson's parade.
Nonetheless, there was plenty of room in the holiday marketplace for both Warner Bros.' "The Perfect Storm" and Columbia and Centropolis Entertainment's "The Patriot" to do blockbuster business. "Storm" made big waves with ticket sales of nearly $42 million, while "Patriot" marched ahead, grossing nearly $22 million with very encouraging exit polls.
Despite expectations based on tracking scores that "Patriot" would capture the top spot, it was "Storm" that won the battle with an estimated $41.68 million at 3,407 theaters ($12,234 per theater). Its cume for the five days ending with July Fourth should be about $63 million.
"Storm's" per-theater average was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
Distribution sources said "Storm" benefited from the broad playability of having a PG-13 rating, while "Patriot's" R rating (for violence) restricted its audience to moviegoers over the age of 17.
In addition, "Storm" had the advantage of being a contemporary special effects adventure drama while "Patriot" is a period piece drama set during the Revolutionary War, a period that historically has not worked well in movies. "Storm," with its running time of about 2 hours 5 minutes, also was able to have more showings than "Patriot," which runs about 2 hours 40 minutes.
Going into the weekend, "Patriot" had looked stronger with its 26 percent first-choice tracking. "Storm," with its 21 percent first-choice tracking, looked like it would sail into second place.
"Our three-day gross represents about 34 percent of the top 13 pictures tracked, doubling the second place movie," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "The record three days for the Fourth of July was about $126 million back in 1996. This weekend the 13 films that I've tracked are $122 million -- plus all the other movies out there -- so I'm sure it's going to be very close to that same number. And, of course, we'll surpass that with the holiday falling on Tuesday. We have two more huge days ahead of us."
Looking at "Storm's" performance against previous records, Fellman pointed out, "The largest three-day opening for the month of July in Warner history was $34 million with 'Lethal Weapon 4.' It's the second-largest opening of the year, behind 'Mission' ('M:I-2'). And it's the third-largest July opening of all time - behind 'Men in Black' with $51 million and 'Independence Day,' which was $50 million. And it's Wolfgang's (Petersen) biggest and, of course, it will be Clooney's biggest."
Assessing what went into the film's blockbuster opening, Fellman said, "I have to congratulate Wolfgang Petersen for his masterful direction. He was so committed to this film. Along with cutting-edge effects from ILM and great performances by Clooney and (Mark) Wahlberg. This is what really was responsible for our success.
"I've got to take my hat off to Brad Ball (Warners' theatrical marketing president), who directed this great campaign created by (Warners creative advertising executive) Jim Frederick."
Fellman also cited help from "our new partners at AOL. They supported us in our first synergistic internet campaign, which was a gigantic effort, delivering us (approximately) 265 million impressions (on America On Line). And I want to congratulate Lorenzo (DiBonaventura, Warners production president) for having developed the project."
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen, "Storm" stars George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.
"Patriot's" flag was flying high in second place with a muscular estimated $21.7 million at 3,061 theaters ($7,089 per theater). Its five-day cume is approximately $31.0 million (including $5 million last Wednesday and $4.3 million last Thursday).
"Patriot" should wind up with about $42 million for its first seven days in theaters, which ends on July Fourth.
"We're a bit relieved that the competition with 'The Perfect Storm' is at an end, and we can now go on and both do what we're going to do," Sony Pictures Releasing president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning. "We think we're going to do extremely well. At the end of our first week, we'll have in over $40 million. We've got A+ CinemaScores. And close to 90 percent Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good) and 75 percent definite recommend (in the studio's exit polls) and equally between men and women.
"Basically, what we've got here is a start that was a bit more adult than anticipated. A little less reliant on the younger action crowd. We think we can get them eventually. But that does put you in a different place. The disadvantage of it is, perhaps, it doesn't open at quite the same frenzied level when your (audience is) a little older as opposed to younger. By older, I mean 20s rather than teens. But there are some advantages, too. I think we got the first of it on Saturday when we were up 25 percent, which is a very strong expansion (from Friday) for an R-rated film. I think we'll continue to get advantages today and through the rest of the weekend - and, particularly, in holding throughout the month."
Dean Devlin, who produced "Patriot" with Mark Gordon and Gary Levinsohn, said Sunday morning, "The big question for all of us was, 'Can two films survive the weekend?' And, I think, the big relief is that obviously, we can. Not only did we have two films do more than $20 million this weekend, but we have four movies that made more than $10 million. That was really good news.
"For us, personally, the expansion of 25 percent from Friday to Saturday and CinemaScores of A+ for an R-rated movie at 2 hours 45 minutes, where we have a screening less per day, it's a real encouraging sign that we're going to be there for the distance."
Mark Gordon, another of "Patriot's" producers, pointed out Sunday morning, "This is not a movie where we said, 'Oh, my God, we're going to make a billion dollars opening weekend.' These movies just don't do that. Even though it was a PG-13, 'Apollo 13' did $25 million its first weekend. 'Saving Private Ryan' did $30 million. 'My Best Friend's Wedding' did (about) $21.5 million. 'The Firm' opened to $20-25 million and did $160 million. So there are all these pictures (over the years) that need to find their audience. Many of them are R rated. It's just harder with that rating and the fact that we are not a special effects driven movie where our audience runs to the theaters the first weekend.
"We believe we are going to be there for the long haul. We were up 25 percent from Friday to Saturday, which is great. It's great to win the weekend. It's always wonderful to win the battle. (But) we've always said we're not in competition with anybody. I think it's sad that in our business now, it's all about who wins the weekend. Let's be looking where we are in a month and not be looking at 'Perfect Storm' or 'Patriot' as compared to each other. Both of these pictures can make money. We think we have a terrific picture. The exit polls are great. CinemaScore is an A+. This movie will have long legs, we believe."
Directed by Roland Emmerich, "Patriot" stars Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger.
DreamWorks' G-rated animated feature "Chicken Run" was showing strong legs in third place, down only one peg to third in its second week with an estimated $12.8 million (-27 percent) at 2,851 theaters (+360 theaters; $4,490 per theater). Its cume is approximately $41.1 million, heading for $80-100 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Peter Lord & Nick Park, "Chicken" features such voices as Mel Gibson and Miranda Richardson.
"Based on the drops that I see in everything else, it's a great hold," DreamWorks distribution head Jim Tharp said Sunday morning. I think that 'Perfect Storm' did substantially more than anyone thought, which probably increased our drop more than you might expect going into the weekend. But we're pretty happy with it, based on everything else that we see."
20th Century Fox's R-rated Jim Carrey comedy "Me, Myself & Irene" plunged from first to fourth place in its second week with an unfunny estimated $12.0 million (-48 percent) at 3,082 theaters (+63 theaters; $3,894 per theater). Its cume is approximately $47.6 million.
Directed by Peter & Bobby Farrelly ("There's Something About Mary"), "Irene" stars Jim Carrey and Renee Zellweger.
The weekend's other new arrival, Universal's PG-rated live-action/ computer-animated comedy drama "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle," rounded out the Top Five with a not so lively estimated $6.61 million at 2,458 theaters ($2,690 per theater).
Directed by Des McAnuff, "Rocky" stars Rene Russo, Jason Alexander and Robert De Niro.
Paramount's R-rated urban appeal remake "Shaft" fell three slots to sixth place in its third week with an unexciting estimated $6.45 million (-49 percent) at 2,433 theaters (+26 theaters; $2,651 per theater). Its cume is approximately $53.2 million, heading for the low $70 millions.
Directed by John Singleton, "Shaft" stars Samuel L. Jackson and Vanessa Williams.
20th Century Fox's PG-13 comedy "Big Momma's House," one of this summer's biggest success stories, slid two rungs to seventh place in its fifth week with a still attractive estimated $5.5 million (-36 percent) at 2,413 theaters (-433 theaters; $2,279 per theater). Its cume is approximately $94.7 million, on its way to $100 million-plus.
Directed by Raja Gosnell, it stars Martin Lawrence and Nia Long.
Buena Vista/Touchstone's PG-13-rated action thriller "Gone In 60 Seconds" skidded four notches down in its fourth weekend with a quiet estimated $5.0 million (-47 percent) at 3,003 theaters (-86 theaters; $1,665 per theater). Its cume is approximately $78.6 million.
Directed by Dominic Sena and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Mike Stenson, "Gone" stars Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie.
Paramount's blockbuster "Mission: Impossible 2" dropped three pegs to ninth place in its sixth week with a calm estimated $4.75 million (-37 percent) at 2,667 theaters (-578 theaters; $1,781 per theater).
The PG-13-rated action adventure sequel is the summer's biggest hit to date. Its cume is approximately $196.9 million, heading for $210-220 million in domestic theaters. The first "Mission" did $181 million domestically.
Directed by John Woo, "M:I-2" stars Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton, Richard Roxburgh, John Polson, Brendan Gleeson, Rade Sherbedgia and Ving Rhames.
Rounding out the Top Ten was DreamWorks' R-rated action adventure blockbuster "Gladiator," down three swords in its ninth week with an okay estimated $2.4 million (-38 percent) at 1,411 theaters (-401 theaters; $1,701 per theater). Its cume is approximately $169.7 million, heading for about $180 million in domestic theaters.
"Gladiator" is half owned by Universal, which is releasing it internationally. Directed by Ridley Scott, it stars Russell Crowe.