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WEEKEND BOXOFFICE REPORT: 'Hardball' Scores No. 1 Again in Slow-Pitch League; 'Glitter' Fails to Hit Top 10

24 Sep, 2001 By: Staff Reporter

During the second weekend since Sept. 11 terroristattacks on New York and Washington, business was slow at the nation's box offices -- in fact, it was the lowest-grossing frame of the year to date.

But most observers believe that the weak performance was a result of a dearth of product in the marketplace as much as a consequence of the terrorist attacks. In addition, several indicators in the weekend's performance give substance to cautious optimism regarding box office in the weeks ahead.

The weekend's contribution to the year-to-date national box office total helped 2001 quietly cross the $6 billion mark -- five weeks earlier than during any previous year in box office history.

The weekend's top-grossing film was Paramount's Hardball, which took in an estimated $8.2 million,down a scant 13% from its opening frame. The Keanu Reeves starrer has earned an estimated $19.4 million to date.

Dimension's Nicole Kidman starrer The Others vaulted into the second spot from fifth place the previous weekend -- the highest position the film has held since its debut seven weeks ago. The horror thriller scared up an estimated $5.2 million, a 14% week-to-week increase despite losing 42 theaters, and moved its cume to about $80.2 million.

Sony's The Glass House pulled in an estimated $4.4 million to place third, down a slim 23% during its sophomore frame, and raised its total to an estimated $11.7 million, while New Line's Rush Hour 2parked in the fourth slot with an estimated $3.65 million, off a negligible 11% during its eighth weekend. The box office blockbuster starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker has accrued an estimated $215.7 million to date. Universal's The Musketeer placed fifth with an estimated $3.5 million, down 30% during its third frame, and moved its cume to about $22.6 million.

As they did the previous weekend, comedies and family films tended to do best in the new environment. Among the Golden Dozen, weekend-to-weekend drops were relatively low, indicating that people continued to want to get out of the house.

But two additional factors played a role in the weekend's poor box office performance. An all-startelethon to aid the terror victims aired on nearly every U.S. television network Friday night and made adefinite impact on box office that evening. Most of that business was made up the following day as overall box office shot up 70% from Friday to Saturday.

The other factor was the dismal performance of the weekend's lone wide release, Fox's Glitter starring Mariah Carey, which failed to crack the top 10. The musical drama landed in the 11th slot with an estimated $2.5 million from 1,202 locations. While Glitter's box office performance wasdisappointing, it should be mentioned that tracking for the film was not very strong even before Sept. 11.

The weekend's other anticipated opener was the limited release of 8X Entertainment's Megiddo: The Omega Code 2, which debuted in 314 theaters and grossed an estimated $1.5 million. The end-timesthriller is the sequel to the successful The Omega Code, which opened in 1999 with $2.4 million andgrossed $12.5 million by the end of its theatrical run.

Another limited-release debut that did fairly well was Lions Gate's Liam. The Stephen Frears-helmed drama opened in seven locations in New York and Los Angeles and grossed an estimated $46,000,averaging a solid $6,571 per theater.

Recent events had another direct effect on the weekend's box office in that two originally scheduledmajor wide releases, Warner Bros.' Training Day and Buena Vista's Big Trouble, were moved fromtheir respective slots.

The coming weekend should be a better indicator of whether audiences are ready to go the movies again as three wide releases hit theaters: Fox's Don't Say a Word, a thriller starring Michael Douglas; Paramount's Zoolander, a comedy starring Ben Stiller; and Warner Bros.' highly anticipated Hearts in Atlantis starring Anthony Hopkins, helmed by Scott Hicks and written by William Goldman, which had very strong sneaks this weekend.

"It was the best-attended sneak in our company's history," Warner Bros. president of domesticdistribution Dan Fellman said. Hearts was sneaked in 500 runs with the distributor's Rock Star on Friday and Saturday. The sneaks were so strong that they significantly buoyed the box office of Rock Star, which dipped a paltry 6% from the previous weekend.

According to exit polls, Hearts played to 85% capacity, drew a 53% female-47% male ratio and received a strong 94% in the top two boxes, excellent and very good. "We are absolutely thrilled with the audience response," Fellman said. As a result, the distributor will expand Hearts' runs from its originally scheduled 1,200 theaters to about 1,700, Fellman said.

The total for the weekend's Golden Dozen is an estimated $44.3 million, down 7% from the aggregate for the top 12 films during last year's comparable frame. The top films then were Sony's Urban Legends: Final Cut with $8.5 million and Warner Bros.' reissue of The Exorcist with $8.2 million.

The Hollywood Reporter forecasts the total for all films this weekend in the mid- to high-$50 million range, down slightly from last year's $62.8 million gross. It marks the first time in 10 weekends that 2001's total box office will fall short of the comparable 2000 total.

The estimate for national box office during the week ending Sept. 20 is up nearly 22% from last year's comparable seven-day period ($87.8 million vs. $72.2 million). The year-to-date cume holds a 10% advantage on last year's pace ($5.95 billion vs. $5.40 billion). Admissions gained a percentage point as the year-to-date estimate moved to a 6% improvement on the 2000 pace.

Other films in the weekend's top 10 include Screen Gems' Two Can Play That Game and Warners' Rock Star, each with an estimated $3.2 million in a tie for the sixth spot, bringing the former's total toabout $18.2 million and the latter's to an estimated $15.4 million. Paramount's Rat Race placed eighth with an estimated $3 million, advancing its total to about $51.6 million; United Artists' Jeepers Creepers placed ninth with an estimated $2.8 million, for a cume of about $33.6 million; and Universal's American Pie 2 placed 10th with an estimated $2.6 million, taking its total to about $139.6 million.

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