Weekend Box Office

by Brandon Gray
August 14, 2000

To borrow a cheesy metaphor from one of the new releases, 'tis the autumn of the summer. For the first time since Mission: Impossible 2's two-week reign, a new release did not top the chart. What's more, with no Sixth Sense boost, overall box office was down compared to last year for the third weekend in a row.

On Sunday, studio estimates had two pictures tied for first and the next five within $2 million of each other. Hollow Man and Space Cowboys were pegged at $13.1 million by their respective studios, Sony and Warner Bros. The photo finish continued when the actual numbers were tallied.

The invisible man ended up edging out the aged astronauts by just $31,684 as it grossed $13.05 million. It was a Hollow victory though, as poor word-of-mouth contributed to 51% of its audience vanishing. With $50.3 million thus far, the $95 million production marks another disappointment for Sony, which hasn't had an unmitigated smash since last summer's Big Daddy.

Clint Eastwood and crew were riding high on a decline of just 28% to $13.02 million, the lowest of the wide releases. The $65 million crowd-pleaser has amassed $39 million to date. Right now, its trajectory points to a final tally orbiting $85 million, making it Eastwood's highest flyer since 1993's In the Line of Fire.

Third and fourth place came down to the wire as well, as The Replacements nudged Autumn in New York out of third when all was said and done by grossing just $52,208 more. It didn't make the first string, though, with an $11.04 million from 2,754 stadiums. Despite being the fourth biggest opening of his career, studio execs will be saying "whoa" when Keanu Reeves' agent again asks $15 million for anything outside of Matrix sequels. To be fair though, the marketing campaign for the $70 million football comedy didn't feature him prominently.

Autumn sapped $10.99 million from 2,255 theaters. Though it cost $40 million to make, MGM acquired the domestic rights for just $14 million, so they should turn a profit. It's the third best bow of both Richard Gere's and Winona Ryder's careers (unadjusted for inflation). A Saturday bump up of just 8% for a picture primarily appealing to adult women indicates poor word-of-mouth and that a precipitous decline is in store next weekend.

Too late to capitalize on the millenium hullabaloo by eight months, Bless the Child was cursed with a $9.4 million debut from 2,524 theaters. With mixed audience reaction, it should, like the other new releases, suffer steep drop-offs to atone for its filmmaking sins.

The Nutty Professor II leveled off some after a 57% crash diet last weekend. The $84 million fat-suit comedy lost 43% this time to $10.2 million, consuming $94 million to date. It should surpass the $100 million mark by next Saturday, though surpassing the original's $128.8 million could be a stretch.

What Lies Beneath rebounded after a 39% dip last weekend, easing by 29% this time to $9.7 million and $112 million total. This past Wednesday is when it became the tenth picture of the year to pass the century mark.* Adding $1.3 million, DreamWorks' stable mate Chicken Run has clucked up $99.9 million so far, and should follow suit on Monday to be the eleventh.

Meanwhile, Coyote Ugly sure wasn't pretty this weekend as it hemorrhaged 54% of its audience to $7.8 million, the steepest drop of any wide release. With $34.3 million to date, the $45 million barmaids with a hefty marketing tab could have trouble making ends meat.

Saving Grace is shaping up to be this year's Full Monty just as Fine Line positioned it to be. Adding five screens, the British marijuana comedy inhaled $351,066 at 35 theaters, up 22% and actually improving its average in the process.

The top 12 pictures totaled $96.6 million million, down 18.3% from last weekend and down 14.6% from the same frame last year when The Sixth Sense saw the top spot with $25.8 million and Bowfinger opened in second with $18.1 million.

Next weekend, Jennifer Lopez and her billion-dollar booty get their first test as headliners in The Cell. Sony releases a real Godzilla movie in all its poorly dubbed, rubber-suited glory after that 1998 Jurassic Park-wannabe. Meanwhile, The Original Kings of Comedy hopes to be more Raw like Eddie Murphy than So Crazy like Martin Lawrence.

* Tangent: Much has been made of What Lies Beneath making Harrison Ford the first star to have $100 million pictures in four different decades. First of all, it's technically still the '90s until 2001. Secondly, the 70's blockbusters he appeared in, American Graffiti and Star Wars, cannot be counted as Harrison Ford pictures. The former was a bit part, and the latter was a supporting role, billed below the title, the picture that put him on the map to begin with. And what of the classic stars like John Wayne (whose pictures spanned across five decades)? Sure, none of their pictures grossed $100 million, but at least one in each decade may have sold enough tickets to equal that sum today. Therefore, it's all hype to suggest that Ford made history in this regard. He does have a chance, though, to achieve this legitimately, if he is still working in 2011.

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