A Weekend to Remember

John Hamann's Weekend Wrap-Up

January 27, 2002

Hungry audiences roamed cineplexes this weekend, obviously ravenous for new material and a wide variety of films benefited. Four new releases found their appropriate niches and six films grossed more than $10 million dollars this weekend. Even with the NFL playoffs and all these new films to contend with, Black Hawk Down still took the top prize, but it was definitely not the biggest story in the top ten.

Holding in first this week, the Golden Globe-ignored flick from Ridley Scott and Sony/Columbia Pictures grossed $18.2 million to retain the top spot. The war flick was down a bigger than expected 36%. Still playing on 3,101 screens, it had a screen average of $5,869. The total for Black Hawk Down after a small limited release and two wide release weekends now stands at $60.1 million, on its way to the $100 million plateau.

Joe Roth's Revolution Studios is behind Black Hawk Down, continuing the recently-created movie company's great start. Revolution has already been responsible for the not so good (but somewhat profitable) America's Sweethearts; the not so good The Animal (but very profitable - budget $22 million final gross about $56 million); the not so profitable The One with Jet Li and the completely terrible (but somewhat profitable) Tomcats. That one had a price tag of $11 million and grossed about $14 million. BHD is Revolution's biggest project so far - the film has a budget of $95 million, which it should recoup in the upcoming weeks.

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'America''s Sweethearts' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Animal, The' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Tomcats' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'One, The'" sqlstr = sqlstr + " ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "Revolution Chart" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

After having a strong opening holiday weekend, Snow Dogs dipped a bit during the week, but came back strong as it grossed $13.62 million, good for second spot in the weekend top ten. Snow Dogs held its audience very well, dropping only 23.5%, and had a venue average of $5,599. Disney has started strong out of the pack this year, with good showings for both The Count of Monte Cristo and Snow Dogs. The total for Snow Dogs now stands at an amazing $39.3 million after two weekends of release.

A Walk to Remember, the new film with teen pop star Mandy Moore, was by far the healthiest of the new crop this weekend and also the biggest surprise. From out of nowhere, AWTR came in a very strong third this week, grossing a jaw dropping $13.56 million from 2,411 screens for a venue average of $5,624. This performance is a shocker no one saw coming. The teen movie genre has always been tough to gauge with regards to box office performance, as trends come and go very quickly, and this example is no different. What is unique is that this film has nothing going for it. The movie's combination of a teen pop star who ranks about fourth in that world along with a marketing effort that was tepid at best should not equal an opening of $13.56 million. Somehow, this under-served section of the market came out in droves, abandoning Snow Dogs and Orange County, and headed for some old-fashioned teen romance.

Over the past few years, January has become the month for the teen flick. Much like last week's Snow Dogs debut, few expected this big of a start from the youth-oriented movie. Save the Last Dance similarly surprised the industry last year with its muscular opening weekend gross of $23.4 million. January 2000 brought Next Friday, which grossed $14.4 million in its opening weekend. 1999 started the phenomenon, giving us She's All That and Varsity Blues, which opened to $16.07 million and $15.92 million respectively. Check out the chart below for more information on teen flicks opening in January.

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Varsity Blues' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'She''s All That' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Next Friday' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Sugar and Spice' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Down to You' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Spiceworld' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Half Baked'" sqlstr = sqlstr + " ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "January Teen flicks" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

A Walk to Remember marks the first release of the year for Warner Bros., and could be one of their most profitable for 2002. This is the company that released 26 films last year, more than any other major studio. In fact, WB released more films in 2001 than Universal, Dreamworks and New Line Cinema combined. AWTR is a great investment for the mammoth movie studio, as the film cost only $9 million to make. With a marketing campaign consisting mainly of MTV and other youth oriented media, post-negative costs should be low. With an opening of gross of $13.56 million, WB has to be ecstatic about their first walk in 2002.

In fourth this week is Richard Gere's latest, the eerie Mothman Prophecies. The supernatural thriller grossed $11.8 million this week from 2331 screens for a venue average of $5,062. In Mothman, Gere reunites with Laura Linney, who last co-starred with him in Primal Fear, the movie that launched Ed Norton's career. A few weeks ago, it looked like Mothman had a chance at being a word-of-mouth hit, a la The Blair Witch Project, but Sony Screen Gems dropped the ball. The marketing never seemed to penetrate through to a mass audience; however, its opening weekend gross indicates it still has a chance at word of mouth success, but Cinemascores and reviews indicate not. The Cinemascore average for Mothman was a C+, with most of the positive marks skewing to the younger portion of the audience. At Rottentomatoes.com, the rotten rating was 51%, meaning that of the 65 reviews given, 32 were a negative grade.

Richard Gere has been in the movie business for 25 years now, and other than a few blips on the chart with Pretty Woman and An Officer and a Gentleman, Gere's box office record has been spotty at best. One interesting note here is that when Gere has a hit, he usually plays a secondary role to a great performance by the female lead.

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Runaway Bride' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Jackal, The' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Red Corner' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Primal Fear' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'First Knight' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Intersection' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Mr. Jones' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Sommersby' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Final Analysis' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Pretty Woman ' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Internal Affairs'" sqlstr = sqlstr + " ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "Richard Gere 1990s Box Office" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

Basking in the light of its numerous Golden Globe wins, A Beautiful Mind held very well this week. It grossed $11.67 million from 2,235 screens, up ten screens from last weekend. The drop for the Russell Crowe picture was less than 1%, and the box office prospects of this film only get better as its Oscar chances blossom. With a total gross so far of $93 million, A Beautiful Mind is starting to look good for the $125-150 million club from 2001.

Last year, the Golden Globes seemed to have an impact on the box office, following George Clooney's win for O Brother Where Art Thou? The film's box office jumped 38.7% from the week before. Also, Traffic and Cast Away both held well following wins by Benicio Del Toro and Tom Hanks. As the Globes become more prevalent, the more of an impact they have on box office.

In sixth this weekend was another new release, The Count of Monte Cristo, which grossed $11.5 million. The Count was expected to be on top of the new releases this week, but had to settle for a lower number. The Count of Monte Cristo is another telling of an Alexander Dumas tale; this one closely follows Universal's release of another Dumas tale, The Musketeer, which opened to $10.3 million last September. Buena Vista Pictures distributed this release, landing the film at 2007 venues and generating a screen average of $5,728.

The Count of Monte Cristo is another collaboration between Disney (Buena Vista Pictures) and Spyglass Entertainment. The two co-produced the spectacular grossing Sixth Sense in 1999, as well as the wonderful Keeping the Faith in 2000. The two companies have some big films coming up including Reign of Fire, starring fire-breathing dragons, and Signs, M. Night Shyamalan's new flick starring Mel Gibson and aliens.

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Instinct' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Keeping the Faith' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Out Cold' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Shanghai Noon' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Sixth Sense, The'" sqlstr = sqlstr + " ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "Spyglass Entertainment films distributed by Disney" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

Debuting in wide release this weekend was the new Sean Penn/Michelle Pfeiffer flick I Am Sam, where Penn plays a mentally challenged father trying keep custody of his daughter. Sam landed in seventh this week, grossing a strong $8.32 million from only 1,268 screens for an average of $6,562 the best average in the top 12. Sam could be a big word of mouth picture, as Cinemascores were A's across the board. Look for New Line to expand this release over the upcoming weeks.

The surprising drop of the week goes to Lord of the Rings dropping to eighth from third. LOTR grossed $8.03 million this weekend. The blockbuster got a rough ride of it at last Sunday's Golden Globes, and dropped its screen count to 2,703 from 3,266. Considering these factors, the powerful pic managed to lose only 36% of its audience. Oscar nominations are desperately needed for the New Line flick if it wishes to keep rising among the biggest box office hits of all time. Its total now stands at an awesome $258.7 million, with many more million still to come.

Another new release this week was the decidedly offbeat Kung Pow!: Enter the Fist. KP landed in ninth this week, somehow grossing $7.27 million from 2,476 screens. Kung Pow has been in the can for a year and a half, as Fox had originally planned to give this film a Summer 2000 release, but continued to push it further and further back to this January's dumping ground. The costs here must be minimal, but no budget information is available. Even with its moderate opening, this film is probably already profitable for the studio.

The Cinemascores for Kung Pow were interesting - the average score was a C-, and the only F came from women over 35. The under 21 set gave it a B- and C+, so its playability shouldn't be hurt by its awfulness. 20th Century Fox made a smart move and didn't screen the film for critics.

Orange Couty seems to be leaving the top ten rather quickly, as it landed in tenth this week, grossing $4.6 million. The Paramount pic has grossed $34.2 million since being released three weeks ago.

The top 12 grossed a surprising $115.3 (estimated) million this weekend, up 56% when compared to last year's haul of $73.78 million over the same weekend though it does bear noting that the Super Bowl occurred on the Sunday of that period. When comparing to last weekend's Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday grosses ($105.18m), box office was still up 9.6%.

Next week brings two more new releases to the plate, another teen flick Sony release called Slackers, with Jason Schwartzman of Rushmore fame, and Nicole Kidman's Russian Bride story, Birthday Girl, also hits national cinemas.

Top 10 for Weekend of January 25-27, 2002
Number of Sites
Change in Sites from Last
Estimated Gross ($)
Cumulative Gross ($)
Black Hawk Down
No Change
Snow Dogs
A Walk To Remember
The Mothman Prophecies
A Beautiful Mind
The Count Of Monte Cristo
I Am Sam
Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring
Kung Pow: Enter The Fist
Orange County
No Change



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