America Sees 'Signs' in Record Numbers

by Brandon Gray
August 5, 2002

Lightning has struck twice for writer-director M. Night Shyamalan.

Released on the same August frame as 1999's The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan's Signs harvested $60,117,080 at 3,264 sites. In the process, the thriller nabbed the opening record for a live-action non-sequel and a movie not based on popular source material, besting distributor Disney's previous live-action high watermark, Pearl Harbor's $59,078,912. Not only that, it marked the biggest opening by far for star Mel Gibson, topping Ransom's $34,216,088.

More of a crowd pleaser than Shyamalan's last picture Unbreakable, Signs appears to have the momentum to soar past $200 million and become the third highest grossing picture of the summer. According Disney's head of distribution Chuck Viane, the studio's exit polling had over 90% of audiences rating it excellent or very good.

Breaking the weekend down, Signs drew in $20,884,660 on Friday, improved 3.8% to $21,683,659 on Saturday and then eased 19.1% to $17,548,761 on Sunday. The picture played equally well among genders and was "consistent from 10 to 60" among the ages of moviegoers, notes Viane, who thought it would skew a bit older going into the weekend.

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The top 12 pictures grossed $141.5 million, up 4.8% from last weekend but down 13.2% from the same frame last year when Rush Hour 2 caused a traffic jam with its $67,408,222 opening at 3,118 theaters en route to $226,164,286. Planet of the Apes retreated 60% to $27,535,697 on course to $180,011,740. The Princess Diaries debuted to $22,862,269 at 2,537 venues on its way to $108,248,956, while Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas created little heat at 2,194 sites with the $6,402,741 bow of Original Sin, which ended its run at $16,534,221.

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