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Another busy weekend at theaters,
but did it meet expectations?

John Hamann's Weekend Wrap-Up

March 22-24, 2002

What did you invent for me now, Q?

The March 23rd weekend was bound to be big. There was a comic book sequel, the re-release of one of the biggest films of all time, and the early 2002 staple, a comedy for young adults. All of these hit theaters Friday vying for the top spot. In addition, we also can't forget last weekend's $46 million hit, Ice Age, which should be banking strongly into its second weekend. The problem is that these things can heighten people's expectations, leading to disappointment even at grosses above $10 million.

Blade II was the big winner at the box office this weekend, even though some considered it a bit of an underdog. The popular opinion among forecasters was that the re-release of ET would finish on top, but it came in on the low side of analysts' expectations. Of course, that doesn't matter to Universal, as E.T. has always been a gold mine for the studio. The original film cost only $11.5 million, and grossed $399 million. The Spielbergian changes and marketing costs of the re-release probably outpaced the production cost of the original. Still, the return will be fabulous, as new vigor is thrown into the title for Universal. Sorority Boys was the final release of the weekend, and, as expected, it was dead on arrival.

Blade II, the hard R-rated action film from New Line Releasing, grossed a stunning $33.1 million from 2,707 screens. The vampire ninja flick had an extremely healthy theater average of $12,228. The sequel's take this weekend follows the box office formula for sequels quite well. It almost doubled the opening of the original Blade, which bowed to $17.1 million in 1998 and wound up with an excellent total of $70.1 million. Blade II carried a very moderate budget of $55 million, and New Line should see that returned by the end of its second weekend.

Wesley Snipes needed a hit. After starting his career off with films like New Jack City, Major League and White Men Can't Jump, the actor's career had dipped recently, even though he had always been a bit of a fringe player. Other than the original Blade, his last semi-hit was U.S. Marshals in 1998. That film opened to $16.86 million, and had a final gross of $57.83 million. There is already talk of a third Blade film, which I am sure Snipes will jump at.

The March 23rd weekend was bound to be big. There was a comic book sequel, the re-release of one of the biggest films of all time, and the early 2002 staple, a comedy for young adults. All of these hit theaters Friday vying for the top spot. In addition, we can't forget last weekend's $46 million hit, Ice Age, which should be banking strongly into its second weekend. The problem is that these things can heighten people's expectations, leading to disappointment even at grosses above $10 million.

Blade II was the big winner at the box office this weekend, even though some considered it a bit of an underdog. The popular opinion among forecasters was that the re-release of ET would finish on top, but it came in on the low side of analysts' expectations. Of course, that doesn't matter to Universal, as ET has always been a gold mine for the studio. The original film cost only $11.5 million, and grossed $399 million. The Spielbergian changes and marketing costs of the re-release probably outpaced the production cost of the original. Still, the return will be fabulous, as new vigor is thrown into the title for Universal. Sorority Boys was the final release of the weekend, and, as expected, it was dead on arrival.

Blade II, the hard R-rated action film from New Line Releasing, grossed a stunning $33.1 million from 2,707 screens. The vampire ninja flick had an extremely healthy theater average of $12,228. The sequel's take this weekend follows the box-office formula for sequels quite well. It almost doubled the opening of the original Blade, which bowed to $17.1 million in 1998 and wound up with an excellent total of $70.1 million. Blade II carried a very moderate budget of $55 million, and New Line should see that returned by the end of its second weekend.

Wesley Snipes needed a hit. After starting his career off with films like New Jack City, Major League and White Men Can't Jump, the actor's career had dipped recently, even though he had always been a bit of a fringe player. Other than the original Blade, his last semi-hit was US Marshals in 1998. That film opened to $16.86 million, and had a final gross of $57.83 million. There is already talk of a third Blade film, which I am sure Snipes will jump at.

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Blade' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'U.S. Marshals ' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'White Men Can''t Jump ' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Major League' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Art of War' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Money Train' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Demolition Man'" sqlstr = sqlstr + " ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "Wesley Snipes Chart" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>


Unlike Mr. Snipes' career, the studio releasing Blade II, New Line Cinema, is hot. With Lord of the Rings ready to scoop up some Oscars tonight, and sequels for Austin Powers, the Friday series, and LoTR waiting in the wings, New Line has its cash registers set to stun in 2002. In the first quarter of the year, New Line hasn't missed. I am Sam has shown decent legs and garnered an Oscar nod for Sean Penn, John Q has been a moderate hit for Denzel Washington, and All About the Benjamins almost made most of its production cost back in the first weekend.

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Rush Hour 2' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Bones' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Lord of the Rings, The : Fellowship of the Rings ' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'I Am Sam' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'John Q' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'All About the Benjamins'" sqlstr = sqlstr + " ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "New Line Chart late 2001, early 2002" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>


While Blade II didn't score a Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, reviews weren't all bad. Of the 57 reviews counted, Blade II garnered 27 positive and 30 negative reviews for a 47% rating. CinemaScores were much better, which could mean good things for the horror/comic-book combo. Blade II got its best marks from the under-21 crowd, with A- and A scores reported for males and females. CinemaScores got lower as the participants got older, finishing with a B+ average.

Could the Blade II opening have been bigger? Simple answer: Yes. Considering the built-in audience that was already there for Blade II, why did New Line not try to expand the audience even further? Marketing was lackadaisical at best for a sequel to a film with huge DVD sales. The trailer was OK at best, and until the last week leading up to release, the TV ad wasn't great, either. It will be interesting to see if New Line will try to continue to build on the opening weekend gross, or whether the Marketing Department with abandon it and move on to Austin Powers 3.

The runner-up spot this weekend went to last weekend's behemoth, Ice Age. Surprisingly, Ice Age didn't get clobbered too badly this weekend compared to last, losing 33% of its audience while grossing $31.08 million. After opening to $46 million last weekend, analysts expected a bigger drop-off. Why? Well, the trend from last summer was set to continue. The marketing is geared to that opening three days of a movie's life. When we look back to last week, we were inundated with Ice Age imagery, TV, Web, radio. Compare that to this week, where we had hardly any spots at all. For those who are asking when I'm going to talk about the competition from ET, you better get comfortable, because it's not going to happen. Ice Age fits the blockbuster mold. To quote David Mumpower, "Of the 11 films that debuted over $45 million in 2001, eight had second Friday declines bigger than 53%". Ice Age held well in the face of these facts.

Spielberg's little monster was a solid third this weekend, but wasn't at all close to the top. The made-over ET debuted on an ultra-wide 3,010 screens, and drew a somewhat disappointing $15.05 million worth of business. The re-issue had a screen average of $5,022. ET will raise some cash for Universal, which looks to have a quieter summer than last year on the horizon. Their only big summer release is The Bourne Identity with Matt Damon. Beyond that, their big release for 2002 appears to be Red Dragon, the Silence of the Lambs prequel with Anthony Hopkins and Ed Norton.

ET crossed a large milestone this weekend. It finally passed a total gross of $400 million, a full 20 years after its initial release. $400 million is good for fourth on the all-time list, and the film should pass Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace next weekend. That Star Wars film has a total gross of $431 million. Its predecessor might be hard to catch, though; the original Star Wars sits in second on the all-time gross list with $461 million.

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Star Wars:SE ' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Grease (re-issue) ' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Little Mermaid, The (reissue)' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Oliver and Company (reissue) ' OR" sqlstr = sqlstr + " movie like 'Exorcist, The (re-issue)'" sqlstr = sqlstr + " ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "Re-release Chart" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>


The number four film this week was Showtime, the Eddie Murphy/Robert DeNiro film that seems to be getting lost in the box-office shuffle. Showtime grossed $8.23 million from 2,917 screens. Off a disappointing 45%, the star-driven comedy had a screen average of $2,821. With an $85 million budget, its grand total so far of $26.89 million must have execs at Warner Bros. a little nervous. WB doesn't have a lot of box-office power between now and the next Harry Potter film due in November. One wildcard might be Scooby Doo, which, if you've seen the trailer, doesn't look to have the quality fans of the cartoon series are looking for. WB does have Death to Smoochy, the heavily-marketed comedy with Robin Williams and Ed Norton, which could surprise; it debuts next weekend.

Fifth spot went to Resident Evil, which had its box-office butt kicked by Blade II. Evil was down a massive 63% this weekend, grossing $6.6 million from 2,528 screens. The video game-based flick has now grossed $28.8 million. Sony's Resident Evil seemed to pass some of its audience off to New Line's Blade II, but Sony may pick that audience back up again with next weekend's Panic Room, as the action/horror genre gets a workout throughout March. Fincher's Panic Room stars Jodie Foster, and could break out over the Easter holiday period.

Landing in sixth was We Were Soldiers, the Mel Gibson Viet Nam flick. WWS grossed $5.8 million in its fourth weekend of release. Its total now stands at $61.71 million.

Seventh spot went to The Time Machine from DreamWorks. Like last weekend, The Time Machine fell 52%, grossing $5.2 million. Its box office cume stands at $48 million.

In eighth is A Beautiful Mind, which rode the Oscar wave for what could be its final weekend, unless it wins. If that happens, the prestige award could carry this flick forward for several more weeks to come. The Ron Howard flick was up 27% this week compared to last, grossing $4.3 million, as Oscar watchers rushed out to see it before tonight's ceremony. ABM's total has reached a lofty $154.9 million, passing the $150 million mark on Thursday.

Finally, showing up in ninth is the big miss this weekend, Touchstone's Sorority Boys. The quirky comedy about transvestite college boys joining a sorority (there's an automatic green-light) grossed $4.2 million this weekend from 1,801 screens. CinemaScores from male viewers over 35 gave the little-used F, and women over 35 gave a D+. Younger viewers were more kind, and the average CinemaScore ended up at an implausible C+. Reviews were just as bad. Four positive reviews out of 36, and surprisingly, one of the positive reviews was from EW's Lisa Schwartzman. The good thing for Touchstone is that this film couldn't have cost more than $15 million.

Tenth place this week went to 40 Days and 40 Nights, the youth comedy from Miramax about the guy who decides to stop having sex for 40 days. The Josh Hartnett vehicle grossed $2.722 million in its fourth weekend, and raised its total to $34.179 million.

Eleventh continues to be held by Lord of the Rings, which increased its share by 17%. The Oscar-worthy flick grossed $2.475 million this weekend, bringing its total to $297.64 million. The folks at New Line are adding the trailer for the next installment of the Lord of the Rings next weekend, so with or without the big win tonight, LoTR will still see $300 million, no matter what. The question is, can it deservedly reach the top six, beating Forrest Gump with $329 million? We will know in a few short hours.

As for limited release films this weekend, Stolen Summer from Miramax opened to $62,000 over the weekend from 13 screens, giving a horrible venue average of $4,769. Harrison's Flowers continued to disappoint in its second weekend, grossing $482,000 from 398 screens, for a venue average of $1,211.

For the last weekend in March, the box office had another very healthy weekend, grossing more than $100 million for the combined top 12. The actual total for this year was $121.032 million, compared to $69.58 million last year, good for a 74% increase. Compared to last weekend, box office was up less than one percent.

Next weekend produces even more blockbusters. Panic Room, the next film from David Fincher, hits theaters next weekend, along with a trio of other films: teen-flick Clockstoppers, Disney's The Rookie goes wide, and WB's Death to Smoochy. Check out BOP's release schedule by clicking here.


Top 10 for Weekend of March 22-24, 2002
Rank
Film
Number of Sites
Change in Sites from Last
Estimated Gross ($)
Cumulative Gross ($)
1
Blade II
2,707
New
33.10
33.10
2
Ice Age
3,345
+29
31.08
88.32
3
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial: 20th Anniversary Edition
3,007
New
15.10
15.10
4
Showtime
2,917
No change
8.23
26.89
5
Resident Evil
2,528
No change
6.60
28.80
6
We Were Soldiers
2,859
-284
5.80
61.71
7
The Time Machine
2,809
-149
5.20
48.00
8
A Beautiful Mind
1,455
-78
4.30
154.90
9
Sorority Boys
1,801
New
4.20
4.20
10
40 Days and 40 Nights
1,831
-481
2.72
34.18
11
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
1,317
+216
2.45
297.64
11
All About the Benjamins
1,123
-396
2.23
21.12

     


 
 

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