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WEEKEND BOXOFFICE REPORT: 'American Pie 2' Takes No. 1 With $45.1 Million Slice

13 Aug, 2001 By: Staff Reporter

In the battle of the dueling sequels, Universal'sAmerican Pie 2 made the cut as it sliced off an impressive estimate of $45.1 million during its openingserving -- more than double the original film's $19.7 million debut -- and topped the sophomore session of New Line's Rush Hour 2, which parked in second place with an estimated $31.5 million.

The pair of sizzling sequels grossed nearly $77 million between them during the weekend, or more than half of the aggregate of the frame's Golden Dozen, which gained a stunning 52% on the comparable2000 weekend.

The strong opening of Pie 2 marks the second-biggest for an R-rated film, behind MGM's Hannibal($58 million), and the biggest for an R-rated comedy, topping Dimension's Scary Movie ($42.3million).

It also marks a historic milestone for Universal as the teen comedy is the distributor's fourthconsecutive film to open with more than $40 million and the top spot -- an unmatched feat at the boxoffice. No other distributor has had even two consecutive films open with more than $40 million each during a calendar year.

Last year, Universal had an unprecedented five consecutive films open at No. 1. The studio that comesnearest to Universal's impressive string of top openings is Paramount, which had four consecutive filmsopen at No. 1 in 1989.

Universal's stellar weekend vaulted the distributor to the top spot in year-to-date North American market share, bumping Paramount out of the position it had held most of the year, and cemented thesummer market-share crown for the studio as well.

The heat wave crossing North America of late has coincided with rising temperatures at the boxoffice.

August, customarily a rather docile month at the boxoffice compared with the rest of summer, has become a raging torrent -- racking up some the season's biggest grosses -- and should ensure thissummer's place in the record books.

The Chris Tucker-Jackie Chan starrer Rush 2 grabbed the second spot despite slipping 53% from its sterling debut, slightly above the median drop of this summer's biggest openings. The Brett Ratner-helmed sequel has amassed an estimated $131.9 million after 10 days, just shy of the first film's total cume ($141.2 million).

The action-comedy surpassed $100 million Thursday, or after seven days, tying Fox's Independence Day as the third-fastest to that mark in boxoffice history. Rush 2 is the 11th film released this year togross more than $100 million at the domestic boxoffice.

Other wide releases included Dimension's Nicole Kidman starrer The Others, which debuted in the fourth spot with an estimated $13.7 million from 1,678 theaters. The distributor was thrilled with the opening because the negative cost for the frightfest was estimated at a relatively low $17 million. Not quite as successful the second time around for the distributor was the reissue with previously unseen footage of Spy Kids, which pulled in an estimated $1.4 million and placed 12th, moving the total for the hit film to an estimated $109 million.

Warner Bros.' Osmosis Jones arrived in the seventh slot during its debut weekend with a pallidestimated gross of $5.6 million. The unique live-action/animated comedy, helmed by Bobby and PeterFarrelly, played in 2,305 theaters.

The sophomore frame of Buena Vista's The Princess Diaries received the royal treatment at theboxoffice as the Garry Marshall-directed comedy pulled in an estimated $14.1 million to place third.

The Julie Andrews-Anne Hathaway starrer dropped a relatively mild 38% and has taken in an estimated $52 million after 10 days.

Fox's Planet of the Apes placed fifth with an estimated take of $13.3 million, down a disappointing52% during its third weekend. The remake has tapped an estimated $148.7 million to date.

Universal was ecstatic about the higher-than-anticipated opening for Pie 2, as well as the companymilestones. Nikki Rocco, president of Universal Pictures distribution, credits everyone involved, noting that the "Universal machine" is running strongly.

"This is a relatively inexpensive homegrown franchise that grew out of a sleeper hit," Rocco said."Audiences were anxious to revisit the characters that they adored in the first film. The film has a genuine sweetness to it." The Pie 2 debut is the second-biggest in August after that of Rush 2.

Rocco said she does not believe that the film's R rating impeded its boxoffice performance because most of the audience for the J.B. Rogers-helmed comedy was over age 17. Overall, 67% of theaudience was under age 25, with a 53% female vs. 47% male split. Rocco noted that exit polls were "fabulous," with 94% in the top two boxes and a 73% definite-recommend rate.

Industry estimates put the negative cost of Pie 2 at about $30 million, up from the first film's estimated$11 million cost. Universal sold international rights on the 1999 first film but is retaining them for the sequel.

Among limited releases, Fox Searchlight's well-reviewed The Deep End opened with an estimated $140,487 from six locations in Los Angeles and New York, ringing up a stellar per-theater average of $23,415. The crime thriller, which expands next weekend to about 50 theaters and to about 200 thefollowing weekend, has grossed an estimated $196,928 since its Wednesday release. The distributor's Sexy Beast will cross the $6 million mark this week.

Paramount Classics' An American Rhapsody opened in seven theaters and grossed an estimated $42,000. The drama starring Scarlett Johansson, Tony Goldwyn and Nastassja Kinski averaged apromising $6,000 per theater.

Miramax's Apocalypse Now Redux performed solidly during its sophomore frame, grossing an estimated $347,815 from 19 locations, up 17 from the previous weekend, and averaged a stout$18,306 per theater. Redux, which moves into the top 20 markets Friday, has taken in about$525,000 after 10 days.

First Look's Bread & Tulips added 19 theaters during its third weekend, bringing the count to 20, and grossed an estimated $145,000, averaging a solid $7,250 per theater and raising its total to about$245,000.

The estimate for the weekend's Golden Dozen is $146.5 million, easily eclipsing the comparable framea year ago. The top films then were Sony's Hollow Man and Warner Bros.' Space Cowboys, which grossed $13 million each. The Hollywood Reporter projects the total for all films this weekend in the high-$150 million to low-$160 million range, up remarkably from last year's comparatively weak$108.9 million.

National boxoffice during the week ending Aug. 9 rose an impressive 34% from the comparable seven-day period in 2000 ($267.4 million vs. $199.1 million), while the year-to-date total gained apoint, moving up to an 8% advantage, and hit the $5 billion mark two weeks earlier than last year ($5.07 billion vs. $4.68 billion). Estimated admissions for the year to date are running nearly 4% ahead of last year's comparable span.

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