Universal Pictures Opens to Quarter-Billion
over Summer 2001

John Hamann's Weekend Wrap-Up

I see only Alyson Hannigan.

American Pie 2 didn't surprise anyone by opening at number one at the box office this week, vaulting ahead of last week's über-hit Rush Hour 2. While this is great news again for Universal, the hold patterns for the rest of the releases in the top ten must be giving theatre owners major ulcers.

Pie 2 ate up a sexy $45.12 million this weekend on 3,058 screens, becoming the number-two opener in the August box-office record books, in addition to surpassing Scary Movie to become the number one R-rated comedy of all-time. Universal Pictures has to be happy with the opening, but having seen New Line's Rush Hour 2 open in the stratosphere last weekend ($67.41 million), tongues will be wagging as to whether rating or release date hampered UP's efforts in bringing Pie 2 to a $50+ million opening weekend. Universal knew long in advance it would have some marketing trouble with Pie 2, as the US government has tried its darnedest to keep R-rated trailers and TV ads away from programming aimed at younger teens. But you can't keep a good studio down, as Pie 2 ended up on the covers of magazines like YM (Young Miss) and was covered extensively in Teen People.

The original film opened July 9, 1999 to $18.71 million on 2,507 screens, giving it a per-screen average of $7,463. It went on to cross the $100 million dollar mark, landing at $101.74 million. The sequel opened wider, taking advantage of its built-in audience. It opened on 3,058 screens, and had a huge average of $14,755. The original also did very well on video, entering the top 100 grossers of all time in terms of video sales and rentals. For more information on video sales and to view the chart, visit our video rental database here at BOP.

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE movie like '%American Pie%' OR movie like '%City Slickers%' OR movie like'%s World%' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like '%Rush Hour%' OR movie like '%Scary Movie%' OR movie like'%Austin Powers%' ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "Comparable Comedy Films and Sequels" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

Universal is the hottest studio around right now, with a string of huge summer openings including The Mummy Returns, The Fast and the Furious, Jurassic Park III and now American Pie 2. The sum of just the opening weekends for these films is a colossal $234.68 million, and that is since the beginning of May only. Universal still has some big films coming up before year's end, including K-PAX with Kevin Spacey and Beautiful Mind with Russell Crowe in a film directed by Ron Howard. It will be interesting to see how Universal does as we move away from the big summer season. Last year, Universal had a great fall/winter, with Bring it On, Meet the Parents, and, of course, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE movie like '%Bring it On%' OR movie like 'Meet the Parents' OR movie like '%Grinch%' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like 'American Pie 2' OR movie like '%Jurassic Park %' OR movie like '%Fast and the Furious%' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like '%Mummy Returns%' OR movie like '%Josie and the Pussycats%' OR movie like '%Head Over Heels%' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like '%Family Man%' OR movie like 'Watcher, The' ORDER BY infopen DESC" max = 100 header = "Recent Universal Releases" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

In second, and continuing the distressing (for theater owners) trend of huge openings followed by crashes back to reality, is Rush Hour 2, which did $33.12 million on 3,118 screens. Rush 2 opened last week with a mind-boggling $67.41 million, shattering several records in its path. The drop to reality this week is a not-so-stunning 51.1%, keeping in the tradition of virtually all of this year's blockbuster summer openings. While down hard this week, 51% is much better than all of the other summer blockbusters, save for Shrek which opened the weekend before Memorial Day, basically ensuring an increase in its second week. Where will Rush Hour 2 end up in terms of total box office? It's still tough to tell, but its impressive CinemaScores are neck-and-neck with family-friendly films like Shrek and The Princess Diaries, so it's too early to write Rush Hour 2 off as a mere $175 million-grosser quite yet. Rush Hour 2 could easily see $200 million or more in total box office receipts, and could end up as the number one or two film in the summer money race.

Clinging to third is last week's big surprise, The Princess Diaries, which did $14.22 million on 2,706 North American screens this weekend. The live-action Disney film dropped only 38%. While this is still considered a big drop, the Julie Andrews film should hold well in the weeks to come, as it is filling a key demographic (young girls) who don't have a lot of other options at the cineplex right now. Now that Osmosis Jones has tanked (see far, far, below), The Princess Diaries won't see any real competition until Freddy Prinze, Jr.'s Summer Catch opens on the 24th of August, and even that is a serious stretch.

New in fourth is Nicole Kidman's The Others, from Dimension Films. The Others did $14.09 million on a paltry 1,678 screens. The low screen count enabled Dimension to spread the screens wisely and give The Others a hot screen average of $8,396. While no Sixth Sense (see the above CinemaScore link), The Others may be able to fill a niche over the next few weeks and flourish at the box office. Its estimated decrease from Friday to Saturday may hinder its fortunes in the weeks to come. Nicole Kidman is quietly making waves herself at the box office, as Kidman has opened, or helped to open, a string of her films above the $10 million mark.

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE movie like 'Others, The' OR movie like '%Moulin Rouge%' OR movie like '%Eyes Wide Shut%' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like '%Practical Magic%' OR movie like '%Batman Forever%' OR movie like '%Peacemaker%' OR movie like 'My Life' ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "Nicole Kidman Openings and Totals" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

Crashing to fifth is Fox's Planet of the Apes. After becoming the number two opener of all time, PotA has absolutely crashed at the box office. This week, Tim Burton's sci-fi epic did a dismal $13.31 million on a massive 3,405 screens, giving it a troubling screen average of just $3,908. PotA's total now stands at $148.7 million, not really that far from its massive opening of $68.5 million. In summers past, films could open large and then let the summertime legs take over, with kids out of school and people being on vacation. However, while huge opening weekends have been stretched into August, leggy films just have not appeared this year, other than Shrek, and potentially The Princess Diaries.

In sixth is another big open/big drop film, Jurassic Park III. In its fourth week, JP3 did $7.52 million, a drop of 40%, to stand with a total of $160.4 million. Again, after a five-day opening of $81.54 million, the dino franchise pic has sputtered its way past the $150 million mark, but does not look like it will crack the $200 million mark. A year ago, if someone told me that a film could open to over $80 million in its first five days and not make it to $200 million, I would have offered them free therapy sessions. Nevertheless, this now seems to be "the way," and will be an extremely interesting trend to watch in the future.

Opening with a large OUCH! in seventh is Warner Bros.' troubled kids pic, Osmosis Jones. OJ opened to an absolutely terrible $5.27 million on 2,305 screens. Heads will roll on this one, as the budget must have been huge, and a screen average of $2,286 is not going to pay the bills for this barking dog. Warner Bros. has had a tough summer. The studio has had some fair hits in Swordfish and A.I., but hasn't had a $100 million winner since last Christmas with Miss Congeniality, and it looks to be a year between hits, as the first Harry Potter film doesn't open until November.

Another disappointment lands in the eighth spot, and its name is America's Sweethearts. The Julia Roberts-driven vehicle did $4.41 million in its fourth week on 2,686 screens, and looks like it will really have to struggle to reach the $100 million mark. Its total now stands at $83.4 million. Sony must have thought this would be an easy winner, considering the pedigree of the stars, an opening above the $30 million mark, its snappy trailer and an overall marketing job that seemed to be working. Someone should tell Billy Crystal to stick to acting, as his writing projects have not turned out well.

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE movie like '%America''s Sweethearts%' OR movie like '%My Giant%' OR movie like 'Forget Paris' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like 'Mr. Saturday Night' OR movie like '%City Slickers 2%' ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "Billy Crystal as a Writer" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE movie like '%America''s Sweethearts%' OR movie like '%Analyze This%' OR movie like 'My Giant' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like 'City Slickers 2' OR movie like '%Mr. Saturday Night%' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like '%When Harry Met Sally%' OR movie like 'City Slickers' ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "Billy Crystal as an Actor" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

It must be said though that so far, Joe Roth's Revolution Studios has done some smart things. They released Rob Schneider's The Animal to almost $20 million in early June] it has amassed $55 million since, and has a production-only cost of $22 million. America's Sweethearts looks to hit just shy of $100 million, and has a budget of $45 million, although marketing and back-end points to its stars will reduce the final payday for Revolution. Upcoming films such as The One, with Jet Li, and Black Hawk Down should continue Revolution's winning streak.

In ninth and still holding quite will is MGM's stock-saver, Legally Blonde. LB eked out $3.77 million this weekend on 2,031 screens, bringing its total to $78.7 million, close to Julia's America's Sweethearts, a feat no one would have predicted a few months ago. Reese Witherspoon, much like Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst, has had some success at the box office, and should be a bright spot in the years to come.

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE movie like '%Legally Blonde%' OR movie like '%Little Nicky%' OR movie like 'Election' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like 'Cruel Intentions' OR movie like '%Pleasantville%' ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "Reese Witherspoon Openings and Totals (Adjusted)" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

The bottom rung of the top ten is more about who isn't there than who is. After opening in sixth last week to $6.4 million, Original Sin, starring Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas, wins the booby prize with $3.08 million. Dogged by horrid reviews and bad word-of-mouth, Original Sin lost more than half its audience (52.5%) sliding into the ten spot for the August 10-12th weekend. Off the list are two family-friendly flicks, Dr. Dolittle 2 and Cats & Dogs, both of which have box-office totals that are somewhat disappointing (if you can call $100 million grosses disappointing).

Last year, a trio of dreadful new releases hit the movie market: Keanu's The Replacements, the Ryder/Gere romance Autumn in New York, and Kim Basinger's awful Bless the Child. The total for all three was $31.44 million, about $15 million shy of what American Pie 2 did on its own. The total for this year's trio adds up to $64.4 million, which is a very impressive figure for the middle of August. Last year, the top 12 only reached $96.5 million. This year, the total for the top 12 films is a whopping $146.38 million (estimated), up 51.6% from the previous year.

Next week, some films that are smaller in comparison to the previous string of blockbusters will try to come out of nowhere and step up with the big dogs. Warner Brothers releases American Outlaws, aimed at the MTV Generation. AO has a hot TV ad, but faces off against Paramount’s Rat Race which will be trying to draw a similar demographic. The toughest call next week will likely be Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, teaming up A-list star Nic Cage with some heavy content. It should make for an interesting face off with The Others, which is trying to add 500 screens for next weekend. Check the BOP release schedule for estimated print counts for next week’s releases.

Top 12 for Weekend of August 10 - 12
Number of Sites
Change in Sites from Last
Estimated Gross ($)
Cumulative Gross ($)
American Pie 2
Rush Hour 2
No Change
The Princess Diaries
The Others
Planet of the Apes
Jurassic Park III
Osmosis Jones
America's Sweethearts
Legally Blonde
Original Sin
No Change
The Score
Spy Kids



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Saturday, December 7, 2019
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