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John Hamann's Weekend Wrap-Up

May 31 - June 2, 2002

Affleck, you da bomb in Phantoms.

After several consecutive weekends of huge year-to-year increases at the box office, numbers came back to Earth this weekend, letting the air out of a season that was shaping up to be absolutely huge. George Lucas' Attack of the Clones took a large hit, dropping significantly this weekend, bringing much of the top ten down with it. Opening this weekend was the Sum of All Fears, based on the Tom Clancy novel, and Undercover Brother, the new comedy with Eddie Griffin. Both opened where they needed to, but neither showed signs of breaking out.

The post-Memorial Day weekend (PMDW) has never produced huge numbers. Drop-offs have always been bad, as comparisons are often made to a long weekend that always draws huge crowds to the movies. The long weekend Sundays are always inflated due to the holiday Monday, so even the three-day comparisons for the PMDW are somewhat unfair. Last year, the average three-day drop-off for seven of the top ten films was 45.31%, while the year before carried nine holdover films and the average drop was 54.1%. Also, for openers and big holdovers, there seems to be a $35 million cap on the weekend. Last year, Pearl Harbor grossed $29.5 million over the same weekend. Some others: M:I2 - $27 million in 2000; Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace - $32.9 million in 1999; The Truman Show - $31.5 million in 1998; The Lost World - $34.1 million in 1997. This year was no different.

The number-one film this weekend was The Sum of All Fears from Paramount Pictures, based on the Tom Clancy novel. Sum grossed $31.18 million from 3,183 venues, good for a somewhat-explosive $9,795 screen average. Do I sound underwhelmed? How can one not be after huge weekends from the dueling fan-boy flicks, Spider-Man and Attack of the Clones? A few things may have gotten in the way of a bigger weekend: NBA basketball dominated both coasts on Friday and Sunday night, and there was a Game 7 NHL playoff game on Friday as well. Professional sports carve a big hole in Sum's target demographic of adult males. Plus, some potential viewers may consider this type of film as unwatchable, as the subject matter hits too close to home.

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Opening night patrons of The Sum of All Fears liked the film, giving it a CinemaScore of A-. Reviews were also good for the Phil Alden Robinson-directed flick, as 61% of the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes were positive. As for comparisons to previous Jack Ryan/Tom Clancy films, Ben Affleck turns out to be the biggest draw, even when compared to inflation-adjusted returns, although it did open on 750 more screens than any of its rivals.

Second spot is somewhat sad. Attack of the Clones managed to hold on to second spot this weekend, but shed a huge portion of its audience. Compared to the three-day gross last weekend of $47.90 million, the gross this weekend of $21.00 million is a substantial drop of 56%. The drop is much bigger than I expected, and now Attack of the Clones looks to be in trouble early (if you can call a $232 million gross so far disappointing). The Phantom Menace, a much more despised film, grossed $32.90 million in its third weekend. That's a difference of $11.90 million, and will have a large impact when it comes to total box office. Already the differences in total grosses are showing. After 18 days, TPM had grossed $245.10 million; after 18 days, AotC has $232.32 million.

Spider-Man also felt the dip this weekend. Sony's web-slinger brought in another $14.32 million but dropped a large 49% in the process. In its fifth weekend of release, Spider-Man dropped 230 screens, leaving 3,646; the web-slinger is still tying up a huge portion of the market for a not-great screen average of $3,977. Looks like the Sony flick is going to top out around $400-$410 million.

Fourth spot goes to our other opener, Undercover Brother. The well-reviewed comedy grossed a surprisingly low $12.04 million from 2,167 venues this weekend, resulting in a screen average of $5,556. Marketing had been tremendous for this Universal flick, and box-office prognosticators had picked it to open over $15 million, but that wasn't the case. Remember, though, the original Austin Powers movie only opened to $9.5 million ($11.21 million when adjusted for inflation), and had a total gross of $53.82 million. Let's wait and see how Undercover Brother performs in weeks to come, as reviews were great (74% positive) and CinemaScores were predictable (B+).

Universal Films, the distributor behind Undercover Brother, seems to be taking summer 2002 off, as they prepare for a huge summer next year. With only UB, The Bourne Identity and Blue Crush being released between June and August, the studio that slayed last year is quiet as a mouse this year. Outside of summer they have a couple of summer-type films: Hannibal Lector is back in Red Dragon with Anthony Hopkins and Ed Norton, and they also have Jonathan Demme's The Truth About Charlie, with Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton. Next summer is key for the studio. The lineup consists of The Hulk, The Fast & The Furious 2, Pitch Black 2, and Cat in the Hat, with possibly more to come.

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Fifth this weekend goes to Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. The DreamWorks flick had the best hold in the top ten, grossing $11.30 million this weekend, good for a drop of 37%. The animated flick now has a total of $38.75 million. With a budget of $80 million, it looks like this one is going to be at best a wash, but more likely a loss.

In sixth this weekend is last weekend's surprise, Insomnia, the Christopher Nolan-directed thriller starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams. Insomnia grossed $9.95 million this weekend, down a somewhat-surprising 52%, given the film's excellent reviews and positive word-of-mouth. The Warner Bros. flick has now grossed $41.61 million, and looks to be headed to $55-60 million with some good holds in the weeks to come. It will need every cent it can gather, as it carries a budget of $46 million.

Seventh is home to J-Lo's Enough, which got absolutely trashed at the box office this weekend. Compared to last week's three-day gross of $17.21 million, Enough dropped an astonishing 52% this weekend, grossing $6.81 million. What looked to be a lock to recapture its budget of $38 million last weekend now looks like a long-shot, as its gross stands at $27.15 million. With key West Coast basketball games on Friday and Sunday this weekend, maybe Enough will pick up next weekend.

Eighth this week goes to Universal's other contender this weekend, About a Boy. Still on a very-soft 1,755 screens, Universal isn't giving AaB much chance. The film grossed $4.13 million this weekend, dropping 48%. Its total now stands at $27.85 million.

Another film to fall on its head this weekend is Unfaithful, the erotic thriller starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane. Unfaithful grossed $2.94 million this frame, bringing its total to $45.67 million.

The toss-up for tenth spot this weekend goes to The New Guy. The Sony school flick grossed $1.41 million, bringing its total to $26.82 million.

Compared to last year, box office was down for the first time in many weeks, thanks mostly to Spider-Man. Last year, Pearl Harbor led the top ten to $122.1 million. This year, the top ten grossed $115.08 million, down 6.1% when compared to last year.

All of a sudden, next weekend looks weak, although two big, high-profile films are on the horizon. Bad Company, starring the always-working Anthony Hopkins and the not-working-enough Chris Rock, debuts on 2,750+ screens. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood also hits theaters, with already mixed word-of-mouth. For more on these films or other films being released in the next few weeks, check out BOP's Release Schedule.

Top 12 for Weekend of May 31 - June 2
Number of Sites
Change in Sites from Last
Actual Gross ($)
Cumulative Gross ($)
The Sum of All Fears
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
No Change
Undercover Brother
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
No Change
No Change
About a Boy
No Change
The New Guy
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The Importance of Being Earnest



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