Blessed Business for 'Perdition' as 'Men in Black II' Hangs Onto Top Spot

by Brandon Gray
July 15, 2002

Though they took a sizable hit, the Men in Black were able to protect the top spot from gangsters, dragons, slashers and crocodiles for the weekend ending July 14, according to actuals released by the studios on Monday.

Men in Black II brought in $24,410,311, down 53% from its $52,148,751 bow and $600,000 less than Sony's estimate. After 12 days, the $140 million sci-fi comedy has racked up $132,688,511. By comparison, the 1997 original dipped 41% to $30,062,317 in its second weekend, lifting its total to $139,584,970 en route to $250,690,539 by the end of its run. And ticket prices were 20% lower back then. MIIB's trajectory points to a final gross of around $195 million.

Audiences didn't turn a blind eye to Tom Hanks in his first not-so-nice guy role in some time. Despite hitting the least amount of theaters of all openers—1,797 venues—Road to Perdition collected $22,079,481. The $80 million, R-rated gangster drama marks yet another summer success for Hanks. His biggest hit Forrest Gump also bowed on the weekend after the Independence Day holiday frame back in 1994, earning $24,450,602 at a similarly modest 1,595 theaters. Road also topped the $18,017,152 opening of Hanks' last R-rated picture—the $136,801,374-grossing The Green Mile, which was also set in the 1930's.

Instead of saturating the marketplace to achieve blockbuster numbers out of the gate, distributor DreamWorks designed Road's release pattern so the movie would still be playing in theaters in the fall, and hence still fresh in Oscar voters' minds. To that end, they'll expand Road to approximately 300 to 500 more theaters next weekend. A similar strategy was employed with 1997's Contact, which launched opposite the second weekend of the first Men in Black. It blasted off with $20,584,908 at 1,923 sites, and then descended 22% the following weekend to $16,114,633 after adding 271 theaters. It ended up with $100,920,329. If Road also crosses the $100 million milestone, it would mark the 10th starring role of Hanks' career to do so (not counting the Toy Story movies), tying Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford.

Breaking the weekend down, Road pulled in $6,693,857 on Friday, jumped 31.1% to $8,772,916 on Saturday, and dipped 24.6% to $6,612,708 on Sunday. Audiences skewed older as half were over the age of 35, and they were evenly split between the genders, according to DreamWorks.

Reign of Fire ignited in third place with $15,632,281 at 2,629 theaters—predictably its audience comprised mostly of young males. Marketed as if it were "The Fast and the Flammable" in its high octane campaign, the post-apocalyptic man-vs.-dragon movie yielded the biggest opening for the dragon sub-genre, edging out the $15,027,150 start of 1996's Dragonheart. Dragonslayer, a 1981 adventure that Reign has been directly compared to, grossed $14,110,013 in its entire run (which would equal about $29 million today adjusted for ticket price inflation). However, Reign didn't quite become the action smash that early buzz had indicated.

Halloween: Resurrection ripped $12,292,121 out of 1,954 sites. Four years ago, the last entry in the franchise Halloween: H20 scared up $16,187,724 at 2,607 theaters in its first weekend despite having some audience burn-off from bowing on a Wednesday. That movie essentially ended the franchise in many moviegoers' minds, making the $13 million Resurrection's debut solid despite being significantly lower. Precipitous drops are in store, though, and it will likely end up with at most 60% of H20's $55,041,738 final gross. Still, it fared quite a bit better than the Friday the 13th revival Jason X, which mustered just $12,633,835 in its entire run.

Mr. Deeds fell 41% to $10,842,415. After 17 days, the Adam Sandler comedy has grabbed $93,975,613 and should pass $100 million by Friday. Three summers ago, Big Daddy dropped 20% to $16,030,412 in its third weekend for a 17-day tally of $116,481,837 on its way to $163,479,795.

Crocs didn't rule as The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course wrangled $9,537,123 at 2,525 locales, $460,000 less than MGM's estimate. Rival studios had it pegged at less than $9 million in their estimates as early numbers had it at a little over $6 million by the end of Saturday. Even at the lower number, though, the comedy starring Animal Planet's Steve Irwin had a decent bow, especially in light of how the two previous cable-TV-to-the-big-screen flicks Hey Arnold! The Movie and The Powerpuff Girls Movie fell flat.Carrying a $12 million production budget, The Crocodile Hunter could turn out to be profitable for its distributor, the ailing MGM. Its opening even topped the $7,714,362 start of another Australian import, last year's Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, which ended up with $25,635,682.

Like Mike still had game in its second weekend, falling a modest 36% to $7,833,279 and eighth place. The less-than-$30 million family flick has scored $32,819,934 in 12 days.

The disparity between Lilo & Stitch and Minority Report grew to its widest in four weeks, but still the difference was only $808,669. Down 36%, the $80 million Stitch nabbed $8,024,738, beating Disney's estimate by $450,000. After 24 days, it has grabbed $118,411,367. The $102 million Minority decelerated 43% to $7,216,069 and $110,137,457 in the same amount of time.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones tumbled 48% to $1,281,757. The drop was mostly due to it hemorrhaging 530 theaters, plunging from 1,162 to 632. After 60 days, George Lucas' $115 million prequel has pulled in $293,817,404. Many exhibitors had an 8-week contract to run the picture hence the exodus to the four new promising movies in the marketplace.Spider-Man took an even greater hit, losing 928 theaters for a total of 574. As a result, business dove 60% to $890,372 for $401,991,818 in 73 days. It's almost as if it were clinging to theaters just until it crossed the $400 million milestone in record time, and then let go once the goal was reached.

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The top 12 pictures grossed $129.6 million, down 6.9% from last weekend but an 18.6% improvement over the same frame last year when MGM's Legally Blonde won its first case with $20,377,426 at 2,620 theaters en route to $96,520,674. The Score was a close second, lifting $19,018,807 at 2,129 as part of its $71,107,711 theatrical heist. Reality trumped the costly Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within as it debuted to $11,408,853 on its way to $32,131,830.

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