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WEEKEND BOXOFFICE REPORT: 'K-PAX' Lands at No. 1; '13 Ghosts' Haunts No. 2

29 Oct, 2001 By: Staff Reporter

Universal's K-PAX found out that there was life at the box office during its North American debut as the drama starring Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges captured the weekend's top spot with a better-than-expected estimate of $17.5 million. The solid opening for the Iain Softley-helmed picture, co-financed by Intermedia, contributed to what likely will be the fifth consecutive up weekend at the box office compared with a year earlier.

Warner Bros.' Thirteen Ghosts also bestowed significant box office treats during the pre-Halloween frame as the scarefest from Dark Castle Entertainment bagged an estimated $15.65 million during its opening session and landed in the second slot.

Two other pictures opened in moderate release but did not fare as well as the top two titles.

New Line's Bones, a horror film starring Snoop Dogg and Pam Grier and directed by Ernest Dickerson, did the better of the two moderate releases, earning an estimated $2.95 million from 847 theaters to place ninth. The ghost story about a legendary protector and patron of what was once a thriving neighborhood has collected an estimated $3.8 million since its Wednesday release.

Miramax's On the Line arrived in 900 locations and earned an estimated $2.3 million to place 11th. The romantic comedy marks the feature acting debuts of 'N Sync's Lance Bass and Joey Fatone.

The previous weekend's top two films slipped to the third and fourth spots, respectively, led by Fox's From Hell, which scared up an estimated $6.1 million, down an unimpressive 45% during its sophomore frame. The Johnny Depp starrer, directed by Allen and Albert Hughes, has a 10-day cume of about $20.8 million.

Sony's Riding in Cars With Boys, starring Drew Barrymore and helmed by Penny Marshall, dropped 42% from its debut figure, taking in an estimated $6 million to place fourth. The coming-of-age comedy-drama has earned about $19.1 million to date.

DreamWorks' The Last Castle, which also debuted the previous weekend, dropped to the eighth slot with an estimated $3.7 million, down a disappointing 48%. The Robert Redford starrer has grossed about $13 million after 10 days.

Basking in the top spot at the box office, K-PAX turned in a better debut than prerelease indicators had signaled. "It's not a genre film, so it's great that adults came out on opening day," Universal Pictures president of distribution Nikki Rocco said. "It was a great marketing campaign." Rocco gave kudos to Peter Adee's marketing team, noting, "What (senior v.p. marketing) Adam Fogelson was able to do was to tell audiences that Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges were going to deliver an intriguing movie."

Rocco said K-PAX played slightly older as 62% of the audience was over 30 years of age. The crowd was divided fairly evenly between the genders.

Likewise, executives at Intermedia, which owns international distribution rights to K-PAX, were pleased. "We're really, really thrilled," Jere Hausfater, president of the motion picture group and worldwide distribution at Intermedia, told The Hollywood Reporter from Milan, where he was attending MIFED. Hausfater made a point of thanking the marketing and distribution team at Universal. "They did an incredible job," he said. "It's a very special movie. They got this movie open."

K-PAX is the first venture between Intermedia and Universal.

The second-place opening of Thirteen Ghosts, the directorial debut of Steve Beck, proved a treat for Warner Bros. "We were very happy with that number," said Warners president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman, who said the weekend gross exceeded expectations. The relatively low-budget film cost about $20 million and was produced by Joel Silver's and Robert Zemeckis' Dark Castle Entertainment.

The total for the top 12 films during the weekend is an estimated $73.4 million, up 3% from last year's comparable period. The pre-Halloween frame's films also had to compete against the beginning of the World Series. The Hollywood Reporter forecasts the total for all films this weekend in the low- to mid-$80 million range, very close to last year's $81 million.

During the week ending Oct. 25, national box office improved nearly 5% on last year's comparable seven-day period ($112.1 million vs. $107.2 million). The year-to-date box office total is nearly 10% ahead of last year's pace ($6.48 billion vs. $5.9 billion), and year-to-date admissions are holding steady with a 5% advantage on 2000.

There were a plethora of limited releases in the marketplace during the weekend. The highest-grossing of the bunch was New Line's Life as a House starring Kevin Kline and helmed by Irwin Winkler. The comedy-drama grossed an estimated $294,000 from 29 venues, averaging a promising $10,138 per theater.

Newmarket's Donnie Darko debuted in 58 theaters in the top 10 markets and grossed an estimated $108,521. The per-theater average for the sci-fi mystery was a discouraging $1,871.

Buena Vista's High Heels and Low Lifes starring Minnie Driver and Mary McCormack played in 175 theaters and took home an estimated $110,000, posting a dismal $629 per-theater average. IDP's Better Than Sex opened in seven locations and garnered an estimated $19,250; the Goldwyn Films picture averaged a modest $2,750 per theater.

Miramax's My Voyage to Italy appeared in one location, grossing an estimated $6,300 during the weekend and about $7,755 since its Wednesday release. Voyage is a documentary about Italian cinema helmed by Martin Scorsese, who is donating proceeds from the one-week Academy-qualifying engagement to the Foundation for Film Preservation.

Fox Searchlight's Waking Life added 22 theaters during its sophomore frame, bringing its count to 26, and chalked up an estimated $210,000 for a robust per-theater average of $8,077. The live-action/CG-animated film from director Richard Linklater has taken in about $362,890 after 12 days. The distributor expects it to play in about 125 theaters in 75-plus cities by Nov. 16.

During its second weekend, Paramount Classics' Focus slipped a scant 13% as it pulled in an estimated $21,000 from two venues. The drama, set to expand in New York and the top 10 markets, has grossed an estimated $60,000 to date.

--Brian Fuson

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