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WEEKEND BOXOFFICE REPORT: 'Training Day' Nips 'Bandits' for Second Week at No. 1

15 Oct, 2001 By: Staff Reporter

It was a close race at the North American box officeduring the weekend, including a few surprises as Warner Bros.' Training Day edged out the debut of MGM's' Bandits for the top spot and overall box office gained on last year's figure for a third consecutive frame.

Training Day, which features Denzel Washington as a rogue LAPD narcotics cop,booked an estimated $13.55 million during its sophomore frame, down a moderate 40%. The 10-day cume for the gritty urban drama, which also stars Ethan Hawke and was directed by Antoine Fuqua, is an estimated $43.6 million.

Bandits, the box office front-runner heading into the weekend, stole an estimated $13.46 million toplace second. The comedy about bank robbers on a cross-country crime spree stars Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Cate Blanchett and was helmed by Barry Levinson.

Two other new wide releases helped lift the weekend's box office. Buena Vista was happy with Corky Romano, a comedy starring Chris Kattan that landed in the third slot with an estimated $9.3 million.

The low-budget picture, which cost about $11 million, hit its target demographic as nearly 70% of the audience for the PG-13 rated film was ages 12-25.

Miramax's Iron Monkey bowed in 1,225 theaters and grossed an estimated $6 million as the martial-arts actioner landed in sixth place. Miramax was pleased with the film's performance and said the Mandarin-language acquisition starring Donnie Yen and helmed by Yuen Wo-Ping was a labor of love for the distributor.

Miramax's Serendipity pulled in an estimated $9 million to take fourth place. The romantic comedy held up solidly during its second weekend, dropping a slim 32% from its debut. The JohnCusack-Kate Beckinsale starrer has reaped an estimated $26.6 million after 10 days.

Fox's Don't Say a Word continued to spark audience interest as the Michael Douglas starrer placed fifth with an estimated $6.8 million, down a mild 31% during its third weekend. The thriller has amassed about $41.8 million to date.

MGM clearly was disappointed with the debut of Bandits. "The pre-opening indicators suggested we were going to have a better opening weekend," MGM president of worldwide marketing and distribution Robert Levin said. "We thought we had an $18 million-$20 million movie."

Levin noted that the marketplace was depressed Friday in major northeastern cities, most notably New York, and speculated that the anthrax scare put off some adult moviegoers, the film's chief demographic. Levin said Bandits enjoyed a significant bump in those cities Saturday.

Bandits scored 75% in the top two boxes in exit polls and pulled in two-thirds definite-recommends.Females were the dominant gender with 54%, and 75% of the audience was 25 and older. "Our wish and hope is that this thing will right itself, and we'll get back the business we lost this weekend," said Levin, who noted that the film's marketing campaign was hampered when Willis was bumped from two television appearances Friday because of the anthrax scare.

Warner Bros. also took note of lower-than-anticipated weekend box office. "We think we could have had slightly better numbers had the despicable acts not occurred," Warners executive v.p. and general sales manager Jeff Goldstein said. Training Day and Bandits share a primary age demographic of 25 and older.

Despite disturbing events in the news, the box office was fairly solid overall as most films took relativelymoderate drops from a week earlier. Seventh-place Zoolander from Paramount took a harsh 460rop, grossing an estimated $5.1 million during its third frame and moving its total to about $35.8 million, while Fox's Joy Ride dipped a modest 34% during its sophomore outing, taking in anestimated $4.9 million in the eighth slot and bringing its cume to about $14.7 million.

Ninth place was occupied by Buena Vista's Max Keeble's Big Move with an estimated $4 million, down a scant 26% from its debut, bringing its total to about $10.9 million.

Warners' Hearts in Atlantis stepped into the 10th slot with an estimated $2.8 million, slipping 45% during its third frame and taking its cume to about $20.7 million.

In the limited-release arena, Universal Focus' Mulholland Drive debuted in 68 venues and grossed an estimated $708,000. The David Lynch-helmed drama averaged a promising $10,412 per theater and has taken in an estimated $785,000 since its opening in New York on Monday. The film expands to about 80 markets, or about 200 theaters, on Friday.

Paramount Classics' My First Mister, which marks the feature directorial debut of actress Christine Lahti, took in an estimated $105,000 from 33 sites for a per-theater average of $3,182. The romantic comedy starring Leelee Sobieski and Albert Brooks generated strong exits and expands to the top 25markets this coming weekend.

ThinkFilm's Last Wedding opened on three screens in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the film was made, and grossed an estimated $26,600, averaging a solid $8,867 per theater. The comedy-drama adds four theaters next weekend in Toronto and a few more in the Vancouver area.

The estimate for the weekend's Golden Dozen is $78.8 million, up nearly 7% from the total for the top12 films during last year's comparable frame. Universal's Meet the Parents was the top film then with $21.2 million, followed by Buena Vista's Remember the Titans with $13.1 million. The HollywoodReporter forecasts the total for all films this weekend in the mid- to high-$80 million range.

National box office during the week ending Oct. 11 rose a solid 8% from the comparable seven-day period in 2000 ($126.7 million vs. $116.8 million). The year-to-date box office cume is holding steady with a 10% lead on last year's pace ($6.25 billion vs. $5.68 billion), while year-to-date admissions are up nearly 6% from the 2000 pace.

--Brian Fuson

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