Star Power Packs Them In

John Hamann's Weekend Wrap-Up

September 30, 2001

A trio of new releases caught the attention of audiences this weekend and raised the last frame of September to some lofty box-office heights. Three star-driven vehicles - Michael Douglas' Don't Say a Word, Ben Stiller's Zoolander, and Anthony Hopkins' Hearts in Atlantis - all performed well in a busy marketplace. There were two big surprises this weekend; the number one and number five films.

The first big surprise was the Fox thriller Don't Say a Word opening in the number one spot this weekend with a whopping $18.0 million. The Michael Douglas starrer opened on 2,801 screens, the widest of the three openers, and had a screen average of $6,424. The film surprised box-office prognosticators, as The Hollywood Reporter and Variety both predicted Zoolander would take the flag. BOP's own Reagan Sulewski was very close, picking a Zoolander win with $17 million, and second for Word at $15 million. The presence of Michael Douglas may have been underestimated, as he has proven his drawing power once again. Douglas demonstrates he is the master of the adult thriller, as his list of successful films of late includes Traffic, A Perfect Murder, and The Game.

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE movie like '%One Night at M%' OR movie like 'Traffic%' OR movie like'%Wonder Boys%' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like '%Perfect Murder%' OR movie like '%Ghost and the Darkness%' OR movie like '%SAmerican President%' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like '%Disclosure%' OR movie like '%Falling Down%' OR movie like 'Game, The%' OR movie like '%Say a Word%' ORDER BY open DESC" max = 100 header = "Michael Douglas Openings" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

20th Century Fox needs a good autumn/winter. After a tough opening in 2001, the only bright spot for Fox has been Planet of the Apes, which has performed below expectations. After a blow-out opening weekend, PotA is going to have a tough time making the $177 million mark. The studio does have a strong autumn/winter schedule, and Don't Say a Word gets it off to a great start. John Dahl's Joy Ride, From Hell with Johnny Depp, and the Jack Black/Gwyneth Paltrow comedy Shallow Hal are waiting in the wings for what is going to be a busy season for the studio's marketing department.

<% sqlstr = "SELECT * FROM box WHERE movie like '%Kiss of the%' OR movie like 'Monkeybone%' OR movie like'%Say It Isn''t So%' " sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like '%Someone Like You%' OR movie like '%Freddy Got%' OR movie like '%Moulin Rouge%' OR movie like '%Dolittle 2%'" sqlstr = sqlstr + " OR movie like '%Say a Word%' OR movie like 'Glitter%' OR movie like 'Planet of the%' ORDER BY date DESC" max = 100 header = "Recent Fox Releases" tstyle = "release" skin = "bop" x = Drawtable(sqlstr,max,header,tstyle,skin) %>

Will Don't Say a Word play through October? CinemaScores indicate yes; the reviews at indicate no. CinemaScores were no lower than a B-, and the average was a B+. The best rating came from women under 21, who gave the film an A-. On the other hand, reviews at were not so kind. Out of 68 reviews, only 13 were positive. There are 15 new wide-release films entering the marketplace over four weeks in October, so a hold next weekend will be key to its box-office fortunes.

In second this weekend was Ben Stiller's wacky model movie, Zoolander. In it, Stiller plays Derek Zoolander, a fashion model recruited by the CIA, who seems to have zero intelligence. Zoolander grossed $15.7 million from 2,507 screens, and had a screen average of $6,262. While not the breakout hit some were expecting, Zoolander still positions itself well in a marketplace that doesn't have much comedy in it this weekend or next weekend. With Rush Hour 2 and American Pie 2 fading off the chart, competition will be low until Chris Kattan's Corky Romano enters the marketplace on October 12th.

Ben Stiller has made some excellent choices in his career. He got his first big-screen chance directing and starring in Reality Bites with Winona Ryder and Janeane Garafolo. In 1996, he did the excellent Flirting with Disaster, but also directed and starred in the Jim Carrey comedy/horror film The Cable Guy, which some people thought would jeopardize Carrey's then-young career. Stiller came back starring in There's Something About Mary, the big hit of 1998, and has recently been in the ultra-successful Meet the Parents with Robert DeNiro.

Unfortunately, CinemaScores were pretty rough for Zoolander, the average score being a C+. Surprisingly, critics liked Zoolander more than moviegoers did; 42 out of 63 reviews were positive at

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In third this weekend was Hearts in Atlantis, the Anthony Hopkins film from a book by horror writer Stephen King. Warner's HiA grossed $9.5 million from only 1,751 screens; its screen average of $5,440 was the third highest in the top ten. From a screenplay by William Goldman, this big-buzz feature generated excellent word-of-mouth from well-attended preview screenings last week. In fact, the movie that was partnered with HIA last week, Rock Star, fell from 8th to oblivion this week (it dropped 78% from last week) after having to draw patrons on its own merits alone. Stephen King has had his ups-and-downs in terms of book-to-screenplay transitions. Misery did well in 1990, but it took a long time to come around to The Green Mile in late 1999. The only real bright spot in between was The Shawshank Redemption, which grossed a healthy $37 million and drew critical raves in 1994. HiA is produced by Castle Rock Productions, who produced other Stephen King features like The Green Mile for Warner Bros. and Stand by Me for Columbia Pictures. Castle Rock has mostly avoided the horror side of King over the years, and their choices have been extremely successful.

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Hearts in Atlantis is a buzz film, and considering what Miramax has done with The Others, gauging the box-office potential for this type of film is impossible. Expect the film to expand its screens in the coming weeks as word-of-mouth continues to spread. CinemaScores were very similar to Don't Say a Word, very good with many Bs and B-plusses.

Dropping to fourth was the champion for the last two weeks, Hardball, starring Keanu Reeves as an inner-city Little League baseball coach. Hardball has been showing those feel-good-movie legs, dropping only 14% last weekend. This weekend, with some heavy competition, Hardball grossed $5.2 million from a still-large 2,218 screens, a drop of 35% from the previous weekend. Paramount is another studio, like Fox, that is having a so-so year. No real breakouts, but a few films with moderate success, like Tomb Raider, Rat Race and The Score.

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Surprising in fifth this weekend is the miraculous The Others, from Dimension Films. In its eighth week, The Others lost 77 screens instead of its usual pattern of gaining them, and still managed to have zero dropoff this weekend, gaining another $5.1 million. The cume for the Nicole Kidman starrer has now reached $87.0 million domestically, and with this week's performance, some think it will be the next movie to hit $100 million in 2001. This from a film that had nothing going for it: a star that was in the middle of a very public break-up, a studio that was concentrating its marketing on the releases before and after The Others, and it's a film with no male lead. What it did have going for it was a hot trailer and great word-of-mouth spurred by a brilliant expansion plan at Dimension Films. Keep an eye out for the Oscar buzz that is sure to come.

The films in the bottom five slots of the chart this week performed poorly but to expectations with the lack of new release material in the marketplace for the last couple of weeks. In sixth was another film with super legs, New Line's Rush Hour 2. The Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker starrer generated another $2.67 million this weekend, dropping 24% in the process. Its total has now risen to an astonishing $219.4 million.

In seventh was the Leelee Sobieski flop, The Glass House. The Sony flick dropped 52%, grossing $2.1 million. The cume for Glass House now stands at $15.0 million. Fox is hoping Leelee has more luck next weekend, when Joy Ride opens, the anticipated new thriller from John Dahl.

Still hanging around in eighth was Paramount's Rat Race, which grossed $1.76 million in its sixth week on the chart. The race comedy dropped 40%, and raised its total gross to $54.14 million. Rat Race had a budget of $50 million, so it will make the bulk of its money on cable and DVD.

Dropping to ninth was Universal's first disappointment in a while, The Musketeer. The swashbuckling film grossed $1.70 million in its fourth weekend, bringing its total to $25.5 million.

Lastly, in tenth was Two Can Play That Game, the urban ensemble comedy. Two Can Play had a bigger drop-off this weekend, falling 50% to $1.60 million. Its cume now stands at $20.60 million.

The estimated weekend total for the top 12 films is $66.21 million, compared to $52.74 million from the same weekend last year, when Remember the Titans opened to $20 million. That's an increase of 25.6%, which should bring some relief to the studios. With three films opening strongly this weekend, ticket sales for 2001 should increase the lead on the prior year.

Next week, four new releases hit theatres: Fox's Joy Ride, Disney's kid flick Max Keeble's Big Move, Miramax's Serendipity and the much-buzzed Training Day from Warner Bros. Check BOP's release schedule for estimated screen counts for next week's openers.

Top 10 for Weekend of September 28-30, 2001
Number of Sites
Change in Sites from Last
Estimated Gross ($)
Cumulative Gross ($)
Don't Say A Word
Hearts in Atlants
The Others
Rush Hour 2
The Glass House
Rat Race
The Musketeer
Two Can Play That Game
American Pie 2
Jeepers Creepers



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