Weekend Box Office

by Brandon Gray
July 31, 2000

The nation's fascination with comedians in fat suits continued as The Nutty Professor II gobbled up $42.5 million from 3,242 theaters. The Klump sum exceeded Big Momma's House's $25.7 million from two months ago and the first Nutty's $25.4 million.

The $65 million sequel beat out Beverly Hills Cop II's $33 million 1987 four-day opening to become a career best for fat cat Eddie Murphy. What's more, it eked past Scary Movie's $42.3 million to be the heftiest comedy opening of the year and second best of all time behind the Austin Powers sequel's $54.9 million from last summer.

What Lies Beneath crept into second place, losing a mere 23% for $22.9 million. With $69.4 million in the till, it's definitely striking a chord with its target audience of adult women who have been mostly ignored all summer. It's a costly hit though with a budget of around $100 million, not to mention the sizable cuts of the gross for Harrison Ford and director Robert Zemeckis.

X-Men leveled off some, but still continues to descend at an alarming rate. The Marvel-ous mutants abated by 46% to $12.7 million, though ending up with $1.2 million more than what Fox estimated. This suggests that its appeal was more niche than its $54.5 million opening indicated, and that it isn't extending much beyond the fanboy brigade. Still, with a cume of $122.9 million after 17 days and likely $150 million finish, that's some niche.

Thomas & the Magic Railroad thought it could, thought it could, but, gosh darn it, just plum ran out of steam with $4.2 million from 2,106 stations and $6.6 million in its caboose. It could have been much worse though, considering that the picture almost exclusively appeals to toddlers and the reduced ticket prices that go with them. The budget was low enough and related promotion from this release high enough, that Destination Films should recoup through video sales.

Under the prodigious weight of The Klumps, Scary Movie took its biggest hit to date, down 45% to $8.3 million and $132.1 million total. By next Saturday, it should surpass Good Will Hunting's $138.4 million to become the top grosser in Miramax's history.

Pokemon plunged 68% to $6.2 million for $33.1 million to date, putting it on course to end up with roughly half of The First Movie's $85.7 million. Glory Hallelujah! The fad is dead! But, wait, before the celebration gets into full swing, Warner Bros. does plan to release, gasp, a third one next spring. After all, this one cost just $5 million to acquire, making it profitable from its domestic theatrical release alone despite the precipitous decline.

Meanwhile, The Patriot became the ninth picture of the year to surpass the century mark. It retreated by 29% to $4.4 million and $101.2 million to date. Other holdovers rebounded after serious declines last weekend, including The Perfect Storm and The Kid easing by just 22% each. Chicken Run was down 25% to $3.4 million and should join the $100 million club in a couple of weeks on its merry way to becoming DreamWorks' biggest family hit yet.

The Nutty opening wasn't enough to boost overall business though. The top 12 pictures totaled $117.3 million, down 8% from last weekend and down 16% from the same frame last year when Runaway Bride topped the chart with $35.1 million en route to $152.3 million total.

Next weekend finds Hollywood clamoring to repeat the crowded yet blockbuster frame from last year when The Sixth Sense opened. Jerry Bruckheimer just won't go away after Gone in 60 Seconds. The uber-producer strikes again with the buxom barmaids of Coyote Ugly, hearkening back to his first blockbuster success Flashdance. Sony hopes Hollow Man will help fill the void in their bank account left after several years of mostly flops. While Warner Bros. launches Clint Eastwood's Space Cowboys with surprisingly little fanfare given the high concept and star power involved.

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