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Was Labor Day Weekend a Week Late?

John Hamann's Weekend Wrap-Up

September 9, 2001

The September doldrums have hit the box office, as we yearn for the big summer films where huge openers like Rush Hour 2 or Planet of the Apes would have beaten the entire top ten this weekend. Just like a year ago this weekend, three wide releases hit the cineplex - The Musketeer, Rock Star and Two Can Play That Game - and all failed to have much of an impact.

Opening in top spot this weekend, from the studio with the Midas touch, was The Musketeer, released by Universal. Starring Tim Roth and Mena Suvari, The Musketeer managed $10.70 million on 2,434 screens and was Universal's fifth number one opening out of their last six releases. A hot TV ad most likely propelled this release; it had some great fight scenes, and most likely played well with the Jeepers Creepers audience, young male teens. Musketeer will have some work to do after opening weekend; it has an estimated production cost of about $50 million.

Universal should be pleased with any number above $10 million, as promotion of this flick was light compared to some other non-summer Universal releases, like Josie and the Pussycats or last September's The Watcher. With little in terms of star power, Universal relied on the powerful fight scenes choreographed by Xin-Xin Xiong. Critics were not impressed. At Rotten Tomatoes, only eight reviews out 58 were positive, so success in future weekends will be tough to achieve.


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Another new release landed in second spot this weekend, Two Can Play That Game, from Sony/Screen Gems. The urban comedy played very well within its target market, gathering $8.30 million off of only 1,297 screens, for a screen average of $6,399, by far the highest in the top ten. Two Can Play did very well compared to similar releases, like How Stella Got her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale. Sony will put out its third release in four weeks next weekend, when The Glass House hits theatres on September 14th.


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In third this weekend was Mark Wahlberg's new film, Rock Star, the R-rated rags-to-riches metal music saga. Rock Star was no Planet of the Apes, and opened to a tired $6.18 million on 2,525 screens, for an average of $2,448. Rock Star was to be released in April, but Warner Bros probably wanted Wahlberg out with Planet of the Apes before releasing Rock Star. It's been an awful year for Warner Bros. The studio with the most releases over the year has had the fewest hits, and Rock Star fits in perfectly with releases like 3000 Miles to Graceland and American Outlaws; films that looked great on paper but failed to open.


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Dropping out of the number one spot and into fourth was the horror flick Jeepers Creepers. The MGM/American Zoetrope film came up with $6.17 million, dropping 61% from the Labor Day weekend. Even with the big drop, MGM should be happy with this release; no stars and cheap special effects would have kept costs down on this picture, so a $30 million gross with much more to come from home video/DVD will make Jeepers a very profitable enterprise for the studio.

In fifth and still holding remarkably well in its fifth week was the Dimension release The Others. The old-school horror flick managed $6.10 million again, dropping only 40% from the four-day weekend. Its total now stands at $67.60 million, on its way to $80-90 million.

In sixth was Rush Hour 2, from New Line. The powerful sequel from Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker continues to trudge along, grossing $5.85 million this weekend, bringing its total to $206.14 million. It eclipsed the $200 million mark on Wednesday, and looks to end up at around $220 million.

In seventh was the other summer sequel, American Pie 2, from Universal Pictures. AP2 dropped 57% from the holiday weekend, grossing $4.70 million. Its total now stands at $131.20 million.

In eighth was Rat Race, playing in its fourth weekend. The road race comedy drove over $4.40 million worth of pylons this weekend. Its total now stands at $43.22 million, on its way to $50 million-plus in North American theatres.

Dropping to ninth was the Disney film The Princess Diaries. PD grossed $3.40 million this weekend. The kids are back in school now, so midweek grosses are practically gone for this big dollar earner. It looks like $100 million is a lock for this Disney release, but don't look for much more after that, although with a lack of kid-friendly releases in September, PD could see $115 million.

Rounding out the top ten this week was last week's "O"ther new release, Lions Gate's "O," which gathered $2.70 million. Good word-of-mouth doesn't look like it will be enough for this Shakespearean update. "O" dropped 56% when comparing the Friday grosses of the two weekends. Its total now stands at $10.75 million.

The top 12 films grossed $62.60 million this weekend, up 28% from last year, when the Keanu Reeves film The Watcher opened in the number one spot with $9.06 million. The box office continues to improve over last year, with what appears to be a stronger September compared to last year.

Next week, Keanu opens Paramount's Hardball against Leelee Sobieski's The Glass House from Columbia/Sony in a weekend that looks to be softer than this one. At least the weekend after looks strong, with Big Trouble and Training Day looking to inject some big dollars into the September schedule.


Top 10 for Weekend of September 7-9, 2001
Rank
Film
Number of Sites
Change in Sites from Last
Estimated Gross ($)
Cumulative Gross ($)
1
The Musketeer
2,438
New
10.70
10.70
2
Two Can Play That Game
1,297
New
8.30
8.30
3
Rock Star
2,525
New
6.18
6.18
4
Jeepers Creepers
2,944
No change
6.17
24.4
5
The Others
2,737
+21
6.10
67.6
6
Rush Hour 2
2,546
-279
5.85
206.1
7
American Pie 2
2,777
-338
4.70
131.2
8
Rat Race
2,551
No change
4.40
43.2
9
The Princess Diaries
2,410
-280
3.40
97.1
10
"O"
1,435
No change
2.70
10.8

     


 
 

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