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Weekend Box Office

by Brandon Gray
July 24, 2000

DreamWorks must love the third weekend after the Fourth of July. They've successfully launched three pictures on it in their short history. In 1998, it was Saving Private Ryan with $30.6 million. Last year, it was The Haunting with $33.4 million. Now, it's What Lies Beneath with $29.7 million from 2,813 theaters.

The $80 million supernatural thriller took advantage of being the first of its genre for the season, promising to creep people out much in the same way The Sixth Sense as did last year. What's more, the paying for one's infidelity theme appealed to the same crowd as such pictures as Double Jeopardy and Fatal Attraction. This bears out in the demographics, as 61% of the audience was female, while 64% were over 25. The star power involved certainly didn't hurt either.

Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer were in dire need of a hit after a string of bombs, including Random Hearts for him and The Story of Us for her. It's the fourth best debut of Ford's headlining roles, behind Air Force One's $37.1 million and the Indiana Jones sequels' respective $33.9 and $37 million Memorial holiday openings. Furthermore, it's Pfeiffer's best opening aside from Batman Returns.

X-Men's reign turned out to be short-lived. Despite its record-breaking $54.5 million last weekend and being generally well liked, it plummeted 57% to $23.5 million taking its cume to just shy of the century mark. This shows that the drooling fanboys satiated their desire to see it on the opening weekend. By comparison, Batman Returns and Forever each dropped around 45% in their second weekends, while Batman & Robin plunged 63%.

Rejoice! The Pokemon fad has faded, as the sequel opened to $19.6 million from 2,752 theaters, $1.9 million less than Warner Bros.' estimate. That's just 63% of The First Movie's $31 million last November (which had already grossed $20 million after opening on the Wednesday before). The sequel should fall off as precipitously as the first, if not more so.

Loser's title turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, as it opened to $6 million from 2,016 theaters. The marketing campaign was rather Clueless as the ads lacked any laughs, contributing to the failure despite being released on the same weekend as that popular teen flick was five years ago. Even with a budget of $20 million, profitability will likely be elusive.

Meanwhile, The In Crowd just wasn't popular, opening outside the top ten with $1.5 million from 1,357 theaters. Warner Bros.' campaign was certainly indicated a dumping, with no critics' screenings and ads hiding everything but the camp. It's baffling that this thing was even released in theaters.

In general, holdovers suffered substantial drop-offs. Scary Movie's 42% decline to $15.1 million was to be expected, but such crowd-pleasers as The Perfect Storm and The Patriot took their biggest hits yet, down 43% and 41% respectively. Even family favorite Chicken Run tumbled 42% to $4.6 million, possibly as a result of the Pokemon opening.

The top 12 pictures totaled $127.3 million, down 12% from last weekend but up 12% over the same frame last year when The Haunting opened in first en route to $91.2 million total.

Next weekend, the second fat suit comedy of the season opens after the blockbuster success of Big Momma's House. Eddie Murphy again plays several roles in The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, and is poised to have the best opening in his career. The first one grossed $128.8 million back in 1996. Meanwhile, fledgling studio Destination hopes to have its first hit with kid flick Thomas and the Magic Railroad.



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