Box Office Analysis: Dec. 2

Harry Potter continued flying high at the box office with $24 million, while Behind Enemy Lines opened to $19 million and longer lines than expected.

With no other wide openings this weekend, Spy Game, Monsters, Inc. and Black Knight held on to their Top Five positions despite predictably high percentage drops from their hefty Thanksgiving weekend grosses.

In typical post-Thanksgiving style, ticket sales tumbled as moviegoers returned to work and school. Key films — those grossing at least $500,000 — took in nearly $87 million. While that was up over 3 percent from last year’s $84.1 million, it was off nearly 43 percent from Thanksgiving’s three day gross of $151.5 million.


Warner Bros.’ mega-blockbuster Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone finished first for a third consecutive week with a still enviable ESTIMATED $24.05 million (-58 percent) at 3,672 theaters (theater count unchanged; $6,550 per theater). Its cume is approximately $220.1 million, heading for the high $300 millions in domestic theaters.

(NOTE: Today’s percentage variations are calculated against the Friday-Sunday portion of the five day Thanksgiving holiday period.)

Directed by Chris Columbus, Harry stars Daniel Radcliffe in its title role.

Asked where Harry is likely to go domestically, Warner Bros. Distribution executive vice president and general sales manager Jeff Goldstein said Sunday morning, “It’s a little too soon to tell. I think we have to get through the next couple weeks. When we look at the percent drops after the holiday, it’s very similar to what other big movies like Grinch did for that week right after (Thanksgiving). Our percentage drops are similar to Monsters, Inc. And if you look at all that, it really comes down to how much repeat business we get through Christmas and New Year’s.”

Warners should also get some help from this year’s calendar. “Christmas this year falls on a Tuesday and that is great,” Goldstein said. “Christmas and New Year’s (both are Tuesdays) and that gives us that extra long holiday weekend two weeks in a row. That’s much better than what we’ve had the last couple of years. When you get a Tuesday or a Thursday (for Christmas and New Year’s Day) you really hit pay dirt because people turn that into a long holiday.”

As to how far Harry flies in domestic theaters, Goldstein added, “We just have to wait the next couple weeks and see how strong the repeat business is. We hear from theater owners all throughout the world that kids are coming back in droves (because) they love the movie.”

Meanwhile, Warners has a highly anticipated opening this Friday (Dec. 7) in Ocean’s Eleven at 2,500-plus theaters. Insiders expect Ocean’s to be one of the holiday season’s top box office success stories. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Ocean’s‘ extensive cast includes such stars as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts.

20th Century Fox and Davis Entertainment’s PG-13 rated war drama Behind Enemy Lines opened in second place with stronger than expected firepower to an ESTIMATED $19.2 million at 2,770 theaters ($6,931 per theater)

Lines‘ average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.

Directed by John Moore, it stars Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman.

“I’m not sure it’s better than we thought we would, but it sure is better than anybody else thought,” Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said Sunday morning, referring to the strong opening. Many of those focusing on Hollywood’s advance radar screen had anticipated Lines to kick off to $13-15 million.

What made the difference? “Quality, at the end of the day,” Snyder replied.

Some Hollywood handicappers pointed out that Lines played very well in small towns, which tend not to be reflected well in studio tracking studies. “Well, I guess there is truth in that,” Snyder said. “The picture worked from the inside of the country out. It was great in small towns. It was great in big towns in the heartland. It worked right across the board.”

Any concerns that the post-Sept. 11 climate in America might not be terrific for a war movie were clearly shot down by Lines‘ successful launch. “We had seen that (that wasn’t a factor) as we went through our screening process,” Snyder noted. “People were loving the movie. And you know what? Quality at the end of the day does work.”

Who was on hand opening weekend? “54 percent male and 54 percent 25 and over,” Snyder said, referring to the studio’s Friday night exit polls. “The ratings were fantastic. The top two boxes were almost 80 percent. It was overwhelmingly strong. The definite recommends were in the high 60s. So it’s not a surprise then (to see so good an opening) when you look at those kind of results.”

Universal and Beacon Pictures’ opening of the R rated espionage thriller Spy Game held on to third place in its second week with a still solid ESTIMATED $11.21 million (-48 percent) at 2,770 theaters (theater count unchanged; $4,045 per theater. Its cume is approximately $46.9 million.

Directed by Tony Scott and produced by Douglas Wick and Marc Abraham, it stars Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.

“I think that the hold was extraordinary on Spy Game,” Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. “Usually, if you look at the top five films that do a tremendous amount of business during the Thanksgiving holiday it’s become the norm to expect a 50 percent or more drop off, as is evident by the rest of the pack.

“The 48 percent hold I think is exceptional and it could turn out with Sunday’s business to be even better than that. We’re talking about a film that (last weekend) grossed $30 million ($30.57 million for the five-day Thanksgiving holiday period), which was highly unusual for an adult film to begin with. So I’m very happy about the results this weekend.”

Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar Animation Studios’ G rated computer animated feature Monsters, Inc. slid two slots to fourth place in its fifth week with a less lively ESTIMATED $9.4 million (-61 percent) at 3,390 theaters (-259 theaters; $2,777 per theater). Its cume is approximately $204.3 million, heading for $260-280 million in domestic theaters.

Directed by Pete Docter, it was co-directed by Lee Unkrich and David Silverman and written by Andrew Stanton and Daniel Gerson.

20th Century Fox’s PG-13 rated urban appeal comedy Black Knight dropped one peg to fifth place in its second week with a quiet ESTIMATED $5.7 million (-49 percent) at 2,534 theaters (-37 theaters; $2,249 per theater). Its cume is approximately $23.0 million, heading for the mid-$30 millions in domestic theaters.

Directed by Gil Junger, it stars Martin Lawrence.

20th Century Fox’s PG-13 rated romantic comedy Shallow Hal fell one rung to sixth place in its fourth week with a less funny ESTIMATED $4.65 million (-45 percent) at 2,429 theaters (-214 theaters; $1,914 per theater). Its cume is approximately $61.2 million, heading for $70 million-plus in domestic theaters.

Directed by Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly, it stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black.

Buena Vista/Touchstone and Spyglass Entertainment’s PG-13 snowboarding adventure Out Cold fell one notch to a colder ESTIMATED $2.9 million (-36 percent) at 2,011 theaters (theater count unchanged; $1,442 per theater). Its cume is approximately $10.5 million.

Directed by The Malloys, it stars Jason London, Willie Garson and Lee Majors.

Paramount’s PG-13 rated thriller Domestic Disturbance slid one slot to eighth place in its fifth week with a dull ESTIMATED $1.9 million (-53 percent) at 1,850 theaters (-536 theaters; $1,027 per theater). Its cume is approximately $42.4 million, heading for $45 million. Directed by Harold Becker, it stars John Travolta.

Rounding out the Top Ten was Franchise Pictures’ R rated thriller Heist, released through Warner Bros., down two pegs in its fourth week with a slow ESTIMATED $1.23 million (-61 percent) at 1,252 theaters (-459 theaters; $878 per theater). Its cume is approximately $22.0 million.

Written and directed by David Mamet, it stars Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito and Delroy Lindo.


This weekend also saw the limited release of Dimension Films’ long delayed PG-13 western drama Texas Rangers to a dull ESTIMATED $0.3 million at 402 theaters ($746 per theater).

Directed by Steve Miner, it stars James Van Der Beek and Dylan McDermott.

Alcon Entertainment’s R rated period piece drama The Affair of the Necklace, released through Warner Bros., kicked off quietly with an ESTIMATED $0.14 million at 18 theaters ($7,555 per theater).

Directed by Charles Shyer, it stars Hilary Swank.


There were no national sneak previews this weekend.


On the expansion front this weekend saw Paramount Classics’ R rated romantic comedy Sidewalks of New York widen in its second week to a soft ESTIMATED $0.65 million at 207 theaters (+108 theaters; $3,140 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.5 million.

Written and directed by Edward Burns, it stars Burns, Rosario Dawson, Dennis Farina and Heather Graham.

Miramax’s R rated drama In the Bedroom added a theater in its second week with a still sexy ESTIMATED $0.095 million at 5 theaters (+1 theater; $19,000 per theater).Its cume is approximately $0.24 million.

Directed by Todd Field, it stars Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson, Nick Stahl and Marisa Tomei.

Bedroom expands on Christmas Day to the top 20 markets.


Universal’s international division reported that American Pie 2 enjoyed a strong first place launch in Korea this weekend with $0.3 million at 60 screens its first two days. The studio said that was 148 percent bigger than the total for the entire Korean run of the original American Pie.

In the U.K., Pie 2 placed ninth in its eighth week with $0.1 million at 90 screens, bringing its cume there to $25.9 million.

Pie 2‘s international cume to date is a terrific $106 million with 11 countries still to open, including Australia and Spain next weekend.

Universal said its international cume for The Fast and the Furious is $59 million with three countries still to open. The studio also reported that Bridget Jones’s Diary‘s international cume hit an impressive $203 million this weekend.


Key films — those grossing more than $500,000 — took in approximately $86.83 million, up about 3.23 per cent from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $84.12 million.

This weekend’s key film gross was down about 42.7 percent from the $151.54 million Friday-Sunday portion of this year’s Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Last year, Universal’s third week of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas was first with $27.1 million at 3,138 theaters ($8,635 per theater); and Buena Vista’s second week of Unbreakable was second with $14.44 million at 2,708 theaters ($5,333 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $41.5 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $43.3 million.