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WEEKEND BOXOFFICE REPORT: 'Rush Hour 2' Writes Up $66.8 Million Traffic Ticket; 'Princess Diaries' Surprises With $23.2 Million

6 Aug, 2001 By: Staff Reporter

New Line's Rush Hour 2 kicked off its theatrical run with a stunning weekend estimate of $66.8 million -- more than double the opening for 1998's original film. The huge opening for the Chris Tucker-Jackie Chan starrer was bigger than anything New Line or its competitors expected.

Other records for Rush 2 include: biggest opening ever for New Line and for a comedy, topping the distributor's Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me ($54.9 million); largest debut in August, topping Buena Vista's The Sixth Sense ($26.7 million); biggest opening for an action-comedy, beating Sony's Men in Black ($51.1 million); third-largest nonholiday three-day weekend, behind Fox's Planet of the Apes ($68.5 million) and Universal's The Mummy Returns ($68.1 million); and fourth-largest opening for a sequel, behind Universal's The Lost World: Jurassic Park ($90.2 million), Paramount's Mission: Impossible 2 ($70.8 million) and The Mummy Returns.

Apes took the second spot with an estimated haul of $28.5 million, moving its estimated 10-day total to a stellar $124.7 million. The drop from its remarkable debut the previous weekend was a soft 58%, in line with the declines of several other high-grossing openers this summer. The Tim Burton-directed "reimagination" surpassed the $100 million mark Friday, its eighth day in domestic theaters, making it the 10th film released this year to exceed that milestone.

In another surprise, Buena Vista's The Princess Diaries exceeded prerelease indicators as the Garry Marshall-helmed family comedy debuted in the third slot with an estimated $23.2 million. The Julie Andrews-Anne Hathaway starrer clearly found its audience as expectations were in the low- to mid teens.

The weekend's other new wide release was MGM's Original Sin starring Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie, which debuted in sixth place with a modest $6.4 million. As both Princess and Sin targeted female audiences, the former clearly won out.

Universal's Jurassic Park III claimed the fourth slot with an estimated $12.1 million, off a disappointing 46% during its third weekend. The dino sequel has amassed an estimated $146.8 million to date.

Sony's America's Sweethearts grossed an estimated $8.4 million to take the fifth spot, down a discouraging 45% during its third frame. The ensemble romantic comedy has taken in an estimated $75.1 million.

Taken together, the sterling debut of Rush 2 and the strong supporting cast of other top films made for the biggest-grossing nonholiday weekend in boxoffice history. The estimated total for the Golden Dozen is $164.1 million, up an extraordinary 39% from the total for the top 12 films during the comparable year-ago frame.

Impressive performance at the boxoffice of late is giving this summer the lift it needs to possibly overtake the record summer of 1999 in both boxoffice and admissions. The next five weeks will tell the tale. Through last week, the total summer 2001 boxoffice was $2.1 billion, surpassing the $2 billion mark a week earlier than the previous two summers.

New Line was elated with the performance of Rush 2. "We thought we were going to do great this weekend, but this was beyond what we expected," said David Tuckerman, the studio's president of domestic distribution.

"If you give (audiences) what they want, they'll come," Tuckerman said.

New Line president of theatrical marketing Russell Schwartz agreed. "David picked a great date for this film to be released; there was really no big action-comedy this summer," Schwartz said. "This is an extraordinary opening."

The distributor noted that prospects are good for Rush 2 for the rest of summer as positive word-of-mouth appears promising and the film is playing well in all four demographic quadrants. According to New Line, CinemaScore polls indicate the action-comedy received an A+ grade from moviegoers under 21, an A from the 21-34 age group and an A- from the 35 and older group. On Saturday, 45% of the audience was over 25 years of age and 52% were male.

Buena Vista likewise was pleased with the performance of Princess. "We always knew we had a potential hit, but the strength of this opening caught us all by surprise," Buena Vista Pictures distribution president Chuck Viane said. The audience for the G-rated film -- the only wide release of the summer to carry that rating -- was 65% female. Viane noted that there was a surprisingly high percentage of teens in the Princess audience. "25% is a really good number," he said.

In the limited-release arena, Miramax's Apocalypse Now Redux debuted in two locations and grossed an estimated $96,000, including $16,000 from one show at an Imax theater. The drama averaged an impressive $48,000 per theater.

Fine Line's Hedwig and the Angry Inch added 35 runs, bringing its count to 46, and grossed an estimated $295,000 during its third weekend. The musical comedy averaged $6,413 per theater, upping its total to about $742,614. United Artists' Ghost World added 15 theaters, for a total of 23, and grossed about $352,000, nabbing a solid per-theater average of $15,304. The comedy-drama has taken in about $750,000 to date.

IDP's Greenfingers took in an estimated $128,900 from 32 theaters, 23 more than its debut, and averaged $4,028 per theater, bringing its cume to about $219,000. The sophomore frame of First Look's Bread & Tulips brought home a promising estimate of $33,000 from one theater, raising its 10-day total to about $90,000.

The Hollywood Reporter forecasts the total for all films this weekend in the low-to mid-$170 million range.

During the week ending Aug. 2, national boxoffice rose nearly 16% from the comparable seven-day period a year earlier ($235.1 million vs. $203.3 million). The year-to-date cume is holding steady with a 7% advantage on 2000's record pace ($4.8 billion vs. $4.48 billion). Including the just-concluded weekend, the summer season is ahead of last year's pace by about 8%.

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