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'Men in Black II' Starts Fourth of July Weekend With a Bang

10 Jul, 2002 By: Brian Fuson

As families and friends picnicked and watched fireworks during the Independence Day celebrations, there were plenty of fireworks at the box office this weekend in North America. Sony's Men in Black II exploded out the gate with $87.2 million in its first five days of release over the July 4 holiday. The Will Smith-Tommy Lee Jones starrer vaporized $52.1 million during the three-day weekend, marking the biggest July 4 debut in history, just topping the original Men in Black's $51.1 million take in 1997.

The black-tie-wearing, extraterrestrial-monitoring dynamic duo helped lift the total box office for the 110 films tracked by The Hollywood Reporter to a blazing $153.3 million — up 16 percent from the comparable weekend last year, and marking the biggest three-day July 4 weekend on record.

The debut of the Barry Sonnenfeld-helmed MiB II was a personal best for Smith, who now owns the top three openings during the July 4 session, the other two being the original Men in Black and 20th Century Fox's Independence Day, which grossed $50.2 million.

Last weekend's box office champ, Sony's Mr. Deeds, moved into the second spot with $18.4 million. The Adam Sandler starrer was down a steep 50 percent on its sophomore frame but is still tracking to clear the $100 million mark before all is said and done, as its 10-day cume stands at $73.6 million.

As a result of strong performances in the top two spots this weekend, Sony has surpassed $960 million in North American box office and is poised to vault past the $1 billion mark in record time sometime this week (HR, 7/8).

On another note, Sony's amazing Spider-Man leaped past $400 million this weekend and comprises 40 percent of the distributor's cume to date. Only two other films have grossed more than $400 million on their initial release — Paramount's Titanic and Fox's Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.

As it effortlessly landed in the top spot this weekend, MiB II drew favorable responses from 89 percent of those polled, according to CinemaScore.com. The PG-13-rated film was split 50-50 between males and females, and reached a wide demographic in age categories, as 49 percent were under 25 years old. All of these indicators point to a bright future for the sci-fi comedy sequel. The biggest draw for the picture was Smith, whom 52 percent of respondents cited as their main reason for attending.

Also debuting in wide release this weekend was Fox's Like Mike. The basketball-themed comedy, starring Lil' Bow Wow and Morris Chestnut, scored $12.2 million during the three-day weekend and $19 million since its Wednesday release. The film, which carries a PG rating, was graded positively by a noteworthy 96 percent of those polled in exits, according to CinemaScore.com.

Like Mike also was split evenly between males and females, but — not surprisingly — skewed younger than MiB II. A solid 67 percent were under 25 years of age, and 56 percent of those were under the age of 18. Lil' Bow Wow clearly has some name recognition with moviegoers, as 63 percent of those attending noted he was the main draw.

Warner Bros. Pictures' The Powerpuff Girls Movie debuted in the ninth slot this weekend with a dismal $3.6 million from 2,340 locations, and $6.1 million over the five-day period. The PG-rated animated film, based on the popular Cartoon Network television series, was graded favorably by 79 percent of moviegoers, per CinemaScore.com's national poll. Powerpuff Girls drew a young, female audience, with 68 percent under 25 years of age and 60 percent of that gender.

Buena Vista's animated Lilo & Stitch was in the third slot with $12.64 million, moving its cume to $103 million -- marking the sixth picture released this year to surpass the $100 million level at the box office.

Fox's Minority Report revealed $12.56 million to place fourth. The Tom Cruise starrer, helmed by Steven Spielberg, whose cume stands at $97.1 million, should be crossing the $100 million mark in the next week.

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