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Despite the Terrorist Attacks, September Was Still the Second-Best Ever

1 Oct, 2001 By: Staff Reporter

Despite the terrorist attacks in mid-September, the national box office for the month still managed to turn in the second-highest total on record and topped the $400 million mark for only the second time in box office history.

The national box office racked up $402.2 million in September, a solid 13% increase from the $357 million tally a year ago. Horror films were the genre of choice during the month as United Artists' Jeepers Creepers and Dimension's The Others posted the highest grosses.

The strong September box office was mostly a result of the solid receipts generated prior to Sept. 11. The box office then started slipping behind last year's comparable weekly totals. Several big releases were moved back or put on hold, which left theaters with weak holdovers and a few unpromising new titles.

While the box office uptick from a year ago is a positive, it still fell 12% shy of the all-time high of $456.6 million racked up in 1999, during the reign of Buena Vista's The Sixth Sense.

But while the box office registered a relatively respectable performance, the same cannot be said for admissions. Estimated ticket units for September were 71.6 million, up a solid 9% from last year's dismal 65.7 million -- which was the lowest tally since 1992. The admission tally for September 2001 is tied with 1997 as only the seventh-best in the past 12 years.

The aggregate for the top 10 films for the month was up 31% over September 2000 ($244.1 million vs. $185.9 million). But compared with the $302 million collected by the 10 most-attended films in September 1999, the aggregate cume was down by 19% and was virtually tied with the $244.9 million tallied by the same in 1998.

Projections for box office and attendance come from The Hollywood Reporter's exclusive national survey, which this year comprised the four weeks ending Sept. 27.

As it took the top spot, Jeepers Creepers scared up $34.4 million in U.S.-Canadian grosses, followed by The Others with $32.1 million of its $81.9 million total to date. New Line's Rush Hour 2 took the show position with $29.5 million of its stellar $216.7 million cume. The fourth slot went to Universal's American Pie 2 with $26.6 million of its $140.5 million total, and the distributor's The Musketeer was fifth with $23.8 million.

Paramount's Rat Race was next ($23.77 million of its $52.4 million total), followed by the studio's Hardball ($21.1 million). Screen Gems' Two Can Play That Game was eighth ($19 million), Buena Vista's The Princess Diaries courted the ninth slot ($17.9 million of its accumulated $103.2 million), and Warner Bros.' Rock Star rounded out the top 10 with $15.9 million.

--Brian Fuson

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