Weekend Forecast
for November 30 - December 2, 2001

By Reagen Sulewski

If our paths cross again, you're gonna see a side of Dignan that you havent seen before.

A slight pause occurs in the world of movie-dom this weekend, as the early fall dials down and the holiday season gets set to launch. Where does that leave us? With an Owen Wilson movie. Anyway...

Looking like nothing so much as a lost Scott brothers film, Behind Enemy Lines is the first real action movie in some time to appeal to the 'Guns N' Ammo' set; nearly all the recent action films have been of the Hong Kong action variety. I'll leave it up to you as to whether that's a good thing or not. A schizophrenic ad campaign has gone from an initial sell of the action, to spots attempting to pack the full development of characters into 30 second spots for both Wilson and Gene Hackman, to 'patriot' spots bordering on the tasteless that started showing once American soldiers hit the ground in Afghanistan. Thankfully, the last spots in particular have been toned down so that this preview can be about the movie instead of an unfocused rant against advertising in general. I don't think any of you want that. The particular release date of this film is curious, as the weekend after Thanksgiving is typically avoided by all studios for fear that a film would get lost in its purge to the Thanksgiving weekend's binge. The highest profile movie to open in this spot was 1998's remake of Psycho, which managed a measly $10.03 million, narrowly edging out the previous champ, Daylight. The last two years have seen no new movies in this spot; however, with no other movies competing for awareness on this weekend, Fox thinks they have an opportunity to fill the vacuum with this film. While I was critical of the overall tone the advertising took earlier, the initial trailer is unimpeachable, with the perfect (and to my knowledge, first) use of the Filter song, Hey Man, Nice Shot. It seems like a little thing, but hey, it matters. Owen Wilson has slowly built a quirky following, starting with indie films like Bottle Rocket (and subsequent collaborations with Wes Anderson) and building his 'name' with appearances in Armageddon and the Haunting, building to starring roles in Shanghai Noon and the recent Zoolander. Both of the last two films mentioned opened to around $15 million, although neither could really have been said to be sold on Wilson alone, which is where Gene Hackman comes in. Like Robert Duvall, a large portion of Hackman's recent work seems to be the kind where he lends his name to a genre film to give it 'street cred. Last year's The Replacements is a great example of this type of usage, with Hackman being paid to deliver a couple of speeches and look stern. As Heist showed two weeks ago, Hackman alone isn't really a tremendous selling point (and neither would Duvall be) but the cumulative effect lifts a film that could be overlooked out of trouble. I expect a weekend in the range of $14-15 million for this film, which would certainly go a long way to improving the reputation for this forgotten weekend of the year.

The much delayed Texas Rangers finally hits the screens, although it has all the look of a dump. After losing the release date battle to American Outlaws (no prize in itself), it had been set for release in February of 2002, until Warner Bros. made the decision to drop it here. In 402 venues with virtually no ad support, it'll be a wonder if people are even aware this film is available. Mr. Van der Beek and company will need to look elsewhere for their next breakaway film role, as this may not even crack $1 million.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone will easily remain in first place for the third consecutive week, but a definite question mark hangs over how much longer this streak will last, due to an underwhelming carryover through Thanksgiving weekend. It definitely played the majority of its fanboy cards on opening weekend, as early showings and school trips padded a weekend, the magnitude of which could not be repeated. The drop for this weekend will provide a large clue as to how well it's going to do throughout the Christmas season, as it can still remain in the top five through to Christmas weekend, or it could follow a pattern once used by Aladdin, which nearly dropped out of sight by Christmas but made two-thirds of its business after all the presents were unwrapped. A drop of 45% would give it about $31 million, with subsequent weekends showing lesser drop off.

Monsters, Inc. should continue its 'resurgence' with the Potter menace diminishing, although in this case, this simply consists of a smaller drop off than what would often be seen. It'll be chased closely by Spy Game, which won't suffer as much from the potential doldrums of this weekend, its audience being considerably older and often taking their sweet time to get to movies that appeal to them. Both ought to end up in the low teens for the weekend.

In limited release, the highest profile film is The Affair of the Necklace, in 18 venues. Starring Hillary Swank, Christopher Walken and Jonathan Pryce, this costume thriller is slick and high profile enough that it ought to capture a large enough per venue average to aim at further expansion. Look for something in the neighbourhood of 15,000 per, or around a quarter of a million dollars for the weekend.

Forecast: Weekend of November 30 - December 2, 2001
Number of Sites
Change in Sites from Last
Estimated Gross ($)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
No change
Behind Enemy Lines
Monsters, Inc.
Spy Game
No change
The Black Knight
Shallow Hal
Domestic Disturbance
No change
Life as a House