News

Same weekend. New record. 'Men in Black 2' Bags $87 Million Over Fourth of July Weekend

by Brandon Gray
July 8, 2002

Sony successfully "deneuralized" moviegoers after a five-year wait since their first encounter with the secret agency that protects the earth from the scum of the universe.

Men in Black II blasted all Fourth of July weekend records by pulling in $87,241,586 on 6,000 screens at 3,557 sites in its first five days—the Friday-to-Sunday frame accounting for $52,148,751 of that. However, it came in $2.8 million less than the $90 million distributor Sony estimated on Sunday.

Independence Day previously held the five-day record with $84,977,796 (not including the $11,124,456 it earned in from Tuesday night previews) at 2,882 theaters, while the original Men in Black had the three-day weekend record with $51,068,455 at 3,020. However, ID4 is still the champion of its namesake if ticket price inflation is taken into account. Its five-day haul would adjust to around $110 million today. Sans the $4,815,427 it did in previews, the $79,318,473 that the original Men in Black grabbed in its first five days would equal around $99 million today.

Breaking the holiday frame down, Men in Black II brought in $18,599,621 on Wednesday—the third highest gross that day has ever seen behind Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace's $28,542,349 and Jurassic Park III's $19,024,360. Business dipped 11.3% to $16,493,214 on Thursday the 4th, and peaked on Friday with $19,821,658, up 20.2%. It then eased 6.6% to $18,516,005 on Saturday and 25.4% to $13,811,088 on Sunday.

Hinting at the mass audience the sequel would reach, a recent Saturday night re-run of the original on NBC was watched by nearly 10 million viewers, one of the top-rated movies of the season despite how frequently it had aired in the past.

The production budget for the 87-minute long sci-fi comedy sequel reportedly came in at a hefty $140 million—$50 million more than its predecessor—but marketing costs were offset to an extent by tie-ins with Sprint PCS, Burger King and Mercedes-Benz among other merchandisers. The trailer even seemed to be as much an ad for the new Mercedes-Benz E Class—or the "new hotness" as star Will Smith describes it compared to Tommy Lee Jones' "old and busted" Ford LTD from the first picture—as it was for the movie itself.

Contributing to the higher budget were the escalating asking prices of the talent. Smith jumped from $5 million for the first picture to a reported $20 million plus 20% of the studio's revenue until the movie hits $200 million and then again after $300 million. Top-billed Jones got $20 million as well and 12.5%. Also in on the action are director Barry Sonnenfeld with 10% and executive producer Steven Spielberg with 7.5%, mainly for deciding to make the Men in Black comics into a movie in the first place. So the road to profitability for Men in Black II may be a long one. Given that sequels tend to be more frontloaded than their predecessors, it most likely will end its run shy of the original's $250,690,539.

MIIB's Sony stable mate Mr. Deeds landed in second place with $18,411,597 ($26,011,410 for the five-day session). The Adam Sandler comedy tumbled 50%, but actually held up slightly better than Big Daddy's 52% sophomore slump on the same weekend three years ago. After 10 days, Deeds has inherited $73,613,421. Daddy had $83,687,816 at the same point on its way to $163,479,795.

Bow-wowing strongly in fifth, Like Mike scored $12,179,420 at 2,410 courts, $870,000 shy of distributor Fox's estimate which had it at No. 3 for the weekend. Starring rapper-turned-actor Bow Wow and Nike basketball shoes, the less-than-$30 million family flick has dunked $19,018,444 since Wednesday. Disney tried to steal some of the picture's thunder by airing the basketball fantasy The Sixth Man—redubbed with the Disney brand name—on the Sunday before, but only managed a 3.0 rating from it.

Lilo & Stitch finally eclipsed Minority Report on a weekend after topping it on most weekdays. Stitch snatched $12,636,421—off 41%—and passed the century mark in the process with $103,018,879 in 17 days. Minority slowed 42% to $12,556,624 for $97,119,723 in the same amount of time, beating estimates for the second weekend in a row. The Tom Cruise sci-fi noir should cross the $100 million milestone by Tuesday, at the same time eclipsing the $100,618,344 gross of Cruise's last picture Vanilla Sky.

Sleeper smash The Bourne Identity had the strongest hold among wide releases again, easing 18% to $9,156,240. With $89,020,100 in the till after 24 days, the $60 million spy thriller will follow Men in Black II and Minority Report to become the ninth movie of the year to hit $100 million, likely reaching the milestone by next Monday. Bourne star Matt Damon's best bud Ben Affleck also saw a small dip for his spy thriller The Sum of All Fears. It fell 24% to $3,715,435 for $111,723,472 in 38 days.

The Cartoon Network's first foray into theatrical features turned out to be more like Hey Arnold! or Doug than Rugrats or Pokemon as The Powerpuff Girls Movie could only muster $3,583,114 at 2,340 theaters over the weekend and $6,127,313 in its first five days, debuting at No. 9. From My Little Pony to Josie and the Pussycats, cartoon-to-movie transitions appealing to little girls have almost invariably failed. Marketing girl power and eschewing the property's potentially broader appeal, The Powerpuff Girls marks yet another casualty. It didn't help that at many venues the picture didn't have evening showings, alienating many of the TV show's older fans.

At No. 12, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones retreated a modest 32% to $2,450,654, despite hemorrhaging 639 theaters or 35% of its theaters for a total of 1,162. In 53 days, it has amassed $291,297,397, which should quell any doubts in its ability to top $300 million by the end of its run.

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE CHART

The top 12 pictures grossed $139.2 million, up 6.0% from last weekend and a 14.2% improvement over the same frame last year when Cats & Dogs clawed past Scary Movie 2 to top the chart with $21,707,617 at 3,040 venues. The battle of the household pets ended at $93,385,515. Scary Movie 2 yucked it up in a close second with $20,503,356 at 3,220 en route to $71,308,997, less than half the gross of its predecessor. A.I. Artificial Intelligence dove 52% to $14,037,488 on its way to $78,616,689, and Jet Li's Kiss of the Dragon puckered up with $13,304,027 at 2,025, ultimately kicking up $36,845,124.



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