Monsters, Inc. Rules the Roost

John Hamann's Weekend Wrap-Up

November 4, 2001

It was a one-two-three punch at the box office this weekend, as three films got off to a great start over an extremely busy November weekend. As expected, Monsters, Inc. from Disney/Pixar was the big winner, but the debuts of two other films, The One and Domestic Disturbance, performed well above expectations. Baseball playoffs continued on Saturday and Sunday, and a close Series between the Yankees and Diamondbacks may have cut into the box office of the male-driven One and Disturbance, even though it was surprisingly strong.

The three opening films gathered over 9,000 screens to themselves. Monsters, Inc. came in as the lead horse by many lengths, grossing an estimated $63.48 million over the three-day weekend. Disney ran it on 3,237 screens, and it had a fantastic screen average of $19,612. The Friday estimate for the kids' flick was $17.39 million. Again, the marketing campaign from Disney was great; over a year ago, there was a trailer released on the Toy Story Collector's Edition DVDs and the ball started rolling from there. Disney has been putting out event films for years, and this is another great example.

The $63.5 million gross lands it in first on the all-time openers chart for November, ahead of The Grinch ($55.03 million) and Toy Story 2 ($57.39 million three-day portion of its opening weekend). It is also the highest three-day opening for a Disney/Pixar co-production, just ahead of Toy Story 2. Monsters, Inc. also knocks A Bug's Life ($32.83 million) out of the top ten for November. For the complete list of top November openers, check out BOP's release schedule by clicking here.

Did having the trailer for the second Star Wars film have anything to do with the big opening weekend for Monsters, Inc.? Absolutely not. When The Phantom Menace came down the pike, the first films to show the trailer were Wing Commander (opening weekend: $5.11 million) and Meet Joe Black (opening weekend: $15 million). Having the trailer attached to this film is by far a better opportunity for George Lucas than the folks at Pixar. I've heard trailer reactions that have been both excellent and mixed, so check it out for yourself when it hits the Web on Monday.

Disney needed a big hit; they were desperate. The two most talked-about releases for the winter were WB's Harry Potter and New Line's Lord of the Rings, with Monsters, Inc. running a distant third. Although movie box office has little to do with the stock price of a company as large as Disney, their corporate image is sure to improve through the success of Monsters, Inc.

Other than The Princess Diaries and Miramax's The Others, it's been a pretty grim year at the Mouse House. Their big summer feature, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, never came close to the $100 million mark, but Monsters, Inc. will make up for any losses incurred by the smaller films released this year. It will be very interesting to see how the Disney flick will hold up against the mighty Harry Potter, which opens on November 16th.

Here's a list of previous Disney films and their respective grosses:

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE movie like 'Toy Story%' OR movie like 'Atlantis%' OR movie like'Emperor%' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like 'Dinosaur' OR movie like 'Monsters, I%' OR movie like 'A Bug''s Life' ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "Disney Animated Releases" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

With Monsters, Inc. looming large in first place, it's hard to imagine anything holding up in second spot, but Sony's Jet Li pic, The One, did surprisingly well. The martial arts/effects flick grossed an estimated $20 million over the three-day weekend. Its average from 2,894 screens was an impressive $6,911. The One was easy to market for Sony, as great visuals and a hot trailer gathered a great appreciation from young males going into opening weekend. It's been a while since audiences had a mainstream total action-and-special-effects picture to enjoy. And according to CinemaScores, audiences were a bit mixed overall, but a B+ from males under 21 shows you towards whom this film is geared.

Jet Li has slowly built a box office name for himself. Here's a list of his previous grosses:

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE movie like 'The One' OR movie like 'One, The' OR movie like 'Kiss of the D%' OR movie like'Romeo Must Die%' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like 'Black Mask%' OR movie like 'Lethal Weapon 4' ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "Jet Li Releases" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

After a rough year, Sony now has two solid films in release, The One and Riding in Cars with Boys. The execs at Sony aren't all that excited, though. The budget for The One is reported as being $70 million without marketing costs, so it has a long way to go to profitability. Riding in Cars is in a similar boat; that film cost $50 million to produce.

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE movie like 'One, The' OR movie like 'Glass House%' OR movie like'Two Can Play%' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like '%Ghosts of Mars%' OR movie like 'The One' OR movie like 'America''s Sweethearts%' OR movie like 'Final Fantasy%' OR movie like 'Riding in cars%' ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "Recent Sony Openings" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

For me personally, the biggest surprise was in third, John Travolta's Domestic Disturbance. DD fooled people out of $14.5 million this weekend, as Paramount rolled out a promotional turkey. They opened as wide as possible, on 2,910 screens, and had a fair screen average of $4,983. Domestic Disturbance had a horrible marketing campaign, a bad trailer and still managed to open above $10 million.

Here's a list of John Travolta's box office achievements:

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE movie like 'Swordfish%' OR movie like 'Lucky Numbers%' OR movie like 'Battlefield Earth%' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like 'Primary Colors%' OR movie like 'Domestic Disturbance' OR movie like 'General''s Daughter%' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like 'A Civil Action' OR movie like 'Michael' OR movie like 'Phenomenon' ORDER BY date DESC" max = 100 header = "John Travolta Releases" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

In fourth we have the start of the holdovers, K-PAX, the Kevin Spacey/Jeff Bridges film, held up fairly well considering the competition. The Universal picture grossed $10.7 million in its second weekend, dropping 38%. The former number-one flick is getting good word-of-mouth, and despite World Series baseball and heavy competition, it held quite well on 2,545 screens. Watch the drop next week to see where K-PAX is going to end up; an early bet would be around $60 million.

In fifth is last week's number-two film, fright flick 13 Ghosts. The ghouls grossed $7.96 million this weekend, dropping a not-surprising 48%. The folks at WB might have been expecting worse, so the 48% drop and the $2,862 screen average may not have been the worst-case scenario. Actually, 13 Ghosts is following The House on Haunted Hill; that WB/Dark Castle film dropped a similar 52%, after grossing $15.94 million in its opening weekend. That film ended up with $40.8 million. The total for 13 Ghosts stands at $27.77 million.

Sixth and seventh went to the always-intertwined From Hell and Riding in Cars with Boys. Riding In Cars dropped 25%, and grabbed sixth with $4.5 million, for a running total of $25 million. FH dropped 38%, grossing $3.72 million, bringing its total to $26.46 million. Both films look to end up around $35-40 million.

Eighth went to Training Day, which grossed $3.15 million in its fifth week. The total for the WB flick has now hit $69.67 million.

It was a battle for the bottom two spots again this weekend. Ninth went to Bandits, which grossed $3 million, finally losing about 900 screens; and tenth went to the John Cusack flick, Serendipity. The Miramax movie grossed $2.5 million in its fifth weekend.

As for limited releases, here is the information we have so far:

The new film from the Coen Brothers, The Man Who Wasn't There, grossed $673,293 from 38 screens. Its screen average was $17,718. And the french film Amélie opened, grossing $140,000 from 3 screens for a $46,667 average. Both films are off to great starts.

It was a blisteringly busy weekend at the box office. The top 12 films gathered a whopping $136.7 million, a stunning 43.62% increase over the same weekend last year, when Charlie's Angels opened to $40 million. Compared to last weekend, the box-office total was up 88.66%.

Next week is the calm before the storm, as Shallow Hall and Heist get out of the gate before Harry Potter takes over on a reported 3,500-4,000 screens.

Top 10 for Weekend of November 2-4, 2001
Number of Sites
Change in Sites from Last
Estimated Gross ($)
Cumulative Gross ($)
Monsters, Inc.
The One
Domestic Disturbance
Thirteen Ghosts
Riding in Cars with Boys
From Hell
Training Day



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