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WEEKEND BOXOFFICE REPORT: 'Planet of the Apes' Inhabited by Record Number of Moviegoers

30 Jul, 2001 By: Staff Reporter


Fox's Planet of the Apes more than lived up to prerelease great expectations at the weekend boxoffice in North America as the Tim Burton-helmed remake returned home with a staggering estimate of $69.6 million, the biggest nonholiday three-day weekend in history.

If estimates hold, the debut of the Mark Wahlberg starrer will have topped that of Universal's The Mummy Returns, which opened to $68.1 million in early May. The opening for Apes marks a company best for Fox, topping the debut weekend of Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace, which grossed $64.8 million, and is a personal best for Burton and Wahlberg.

Fox was ecstatic about the film's stellar performance. "I had big hopes for it, but nothing that began with a six," president of domestic distribution Bruce Snyder said. "We're very happy here -- congratulations to everybody."

The dinosaurs ran in second place during the weekend as Universal's Jurassic Park III chomped off an estimated $22.5 million, down 56% from its debut and bringing its estimated 12-day total to a sterling $124.8 million. Considering the sensational opening of Apes and the heights of Jurassic III's debut, the drop during the sophomore frame is within reason. Jurassic III reached the $100 million mark Thursday, after nine days in release -- the same number of days it took the original Jurassic Park and Mummy Returns to reach that level.

Sony's America's Sweethearts moved into the third slot with an estimated $15.7 million, off 48% from its debut. "For this summer, it's a good hold," Columbia Pictures president of worldwide marketing and distribution Jeff Blake said. "I think it will settle in going forward." Blake noted that the ensemble romantic comedy should prove a viable alternative to other films in the market and those that are coming. The Revolution Studios release featuring Julia Roberts has taken in an estimated $59.4 million after 10 days.

MGM's Legally Blonde starring Reese Witherspoon placed fourth with an estimated score of $9 million during its third weekend. The comedy slipped a scant 19% from the previous weekend -- the second-best hold among the Golden Dozen -- and has taken in about $59.8 million to date.

Paramount's The Score lifted an estimated $7.1 million to take the fifth spot, off a respectable 34% during its third frame. The cume for the Robert De Niro-Edward Norton starrer stands at an estimated $49.2 million.

The phenomenal debut of Apes, which accounted for nearly 50% of the aggregate for the top 12 films, aided in boosting boxoffice prospects for the second half of the summer. The estimated total for the weekend's Golden Dozen is $143.5 million, up a solid 18% from last year's comparable frame. As of last week, the summer boxoffice is running 5% ahead of last year's pace.

National boxoffice for the seven days that began Friday undoubtedly will surpass $200 million, marking the seventh consecutive $200 million-plus week this summer -- a record stretch.

In a hopeful sign that the Teflon coating at the boxoffice of late -- with films failing to stick as they log large weekend-to-weekend declines -- might be wearing thin, six films in the Golden Dozen registered drops of less than 40%, compared with only two the previous weekend. Blonde, Score, Warner Bros.' Cats & Dogs, Fox's Dr. Dolittle 2, Universal's The Fast and the Furious and DreamWorks' Shrek sustained lower drops than has been the norm during recent weeks.

The lowest drop among the Golden Dozen was that of Dolittle 2, which posted a scant 5% decline. The Eddie Murphy starrer placed seventh with an estimated $4.2 million, and its cume advanced to an estimated $100.8 million. Jurassic III and Dolittle 2 are the eighth and ninth films released this year to surpass $100 million.

Regarding the sensational debut of Apes, Fox said exit polls were not available at press time but noted that 62% of the audience was over 25 years of age. "We've got room to grow," said Snyder, who was especially pleased with the film's gender breakdown, noting that more females attended than the studio anticipated, yielding a 54-46 male-female breakdown.

To arrive at its impressive debut, Apes pulled in a record single-day gross for a Friday. The estimated $25 million racked up by Apes bested the $23.4 million Friday gross of Mummy Returns.

The biggest opening weekend in history still belongs to Universal's The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which grossed $90.2 million during 1997's four-day Memorial Day frame. Because audience moviegoing patterns are dramatically different during a four-day holiday weekend, it is not an apples-to-apples comparison to pull out the first three days and compare them with a regular three-day frame.

That said, the tremendous boxoffice debut of Apes fell just shy of the four-day Memorial Day weekend grosses of Paramount's Mission: Impossible 2 and Buena Vista's Pearl Harbor, which opened with $70.8 million and $75.2 million, respectively. The debuts of M:I-2 and Pearl are the second- and third-biggest weekend grosses in history behind Lost World.

IDP's Greenfingers debuted in limited release in Los Angeles and New York, and the Fireworks/Samuel Goldwyn acquisition grossed an estimated $71,175 from nine locations, averaging $7,908 per theater. The romantic comedy expands Friday to 30-40 theaters. First Look's Bread & Tulips, an Italian-language comedy, opened in one theater in New York and grossed an estimated $30,000.

MGM's Ghost World took in an estimated $128,000 from eight locations during its sophomore frame for a solid per-theater average of $16,000, moving its cume to about $305,000. Fine Line's Hedwig and the Angry Inch grossed an estimated $115,000 from 11 venues, averaging a hardy $10,455 per theater and bringing its total to about $367,000. Hedwig moves into the top 15 markets Friday.

The third weekend of Artisan's Made brought in an estimated $631,000 as the distributor upped its theater count by 86, bringing the total to 105. The Jon Favreau-Vince Vaughn starrer averaged $6,010 per theater and has taken in an estimated $1.3 million.

The top-grossing films during last year's comparable weekend were Universal's Nutty Professor II: The Klumps with $42.5 million and DreamWorks' What Lies Beneath with $22.9 million. The Hollywood Reporter forecasts the total for all films this weekend in the low- to mid-$150 million range, up significantly from last year's $131.8 million.

National boxoffice during the week ending July 26 rose 4% from the comparable seven-day period in 2000 ($229.9 million vs. $221.3 million). The year-to-date total holds a 7% advantage on last year's pace ($4.57 billion vs. $4.27 billion).

Other films in the top 10 this weekend are sixth-place Cats & Dogs with an estimated $4.5 million, bringing its total to about $81.5 million. Furious was No. 8 with about $3.8 million, moving its total to an estimated $132.2 million, followed by Dimension's Scary Movie 2 with an estimated $2.6 million, raising its cume to about $67 million.

The long-running Shrek bounced back into the top 10 as it took in an estimated $1.7 million, bringing its estimated total to a stellar $255.5 million. It is the highest-grossing film released this summer and year-to-date.


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