News

'Clones,' 'Spider-Man' Lead Record Memorial Weekend

by Brandon Gray
May 28, 2002

The Force was not just with Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones over the Memorial Day holiday but with the entire marketplace as overall business surged to over $200 million, the biggest weekend on record.

Coming in at $1.2 million less than Fox's estimate, Attack of the Clones led the field with $60,003,949 over the four-day Memorial weekend, soaring to $201,309,716 after 12 days of release—the second fastest movie to cross the double century mark behind Spider-Man's nine day sprint and ahead of The Phantom Menace's 13 days. Clones now ranks No. 41 on the all time chart, right behind Armageddon ($201,578,182).

For the normal weekend period—Friday to Sunday—George Lucas' $115 million digital epic took in $47,880,532, down 40% from its $80,027,814 opening and ranking as the fifth biggest second weekend ever. By comparison, The Phantom Menace descended 21% in its sophomore session to $51,399,863, reaching $191,596,499 by its 12th day of release on its trek to $431,088,297. However, it faced a far less competitive marketplace, with only one other major movie opening in its first two weeks (Notting Hill). Whereas, Clones has had four, not to mention the continued behemoth that is Spider-Man.

Breaking the weekend down, Clones raked in $12,787,965 on Friday, jumped 45.1% on Saturday to $18,560,664, fell 10.9% on Sunday to $16,531,903 and dipped 26.7% dip on Monday to $12,123,417. The pattern was similar to Menace's Memorial Day frame, although there was greater burn-off as the weekend progressed. Menace did $13,531,561 on its comparable Friday, leapt 42.9% to $19,330,780 on Saturday, eased 4.1% to $18,537,522 on Sunday and another 16.4% to $15,504,435 on Monday.

At this rate, Clones' gross will fall behind Menace's by Day 13 (Tuesday), making it the first Star Wars movie not to exceed its predecessor's pace early on. For example, it was five months before The Empire Strikes Back's gross began lagging behind the first Star Wars, and both had similar release patterns of starting limited and then expanding throughout the summer. So chances are Clones won't catch Menace in the long run, but it could hit a still phenomenal $350 million to rank as the seventh highest grossing movie of all time.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man continued to amaze, netting $35,814,844 over the long weekend from a record 3,876 theaters—$700,000 than Sony's estimate. That hoists its total to $333,641,492 after 25 days, eclipsing Forrest Gump ($329,694,499) to hit No. 6 on the all time chart. On Friday—its 22nd day of release—the Marvel Comics adaptation became the fastest movie to reach $300 million. From Friday to Sunday alone it grabbed $28,508,104, off 37% and putting it just shy of another record—biggest fourth weekend—which Titanic still holds with $28,716,310.

In addition to the uber-blockbusters that are Attack of the Clones and Spider-Man, the studios have done an unprecedented amount of counter-programming for adults, and virtually all attempts have been successful so far.

Insomnia—director Christopher Nolan's follow-up to last year's $25,544,867 indie smash Memento—out-grossed that picture in its first four days alone. The remake of the 1997 Norwegian picture of the same name nabbed $26,068,419 from 2,610 theaters over the long weekend, the biggest opening of star Al Pacino's career. That's a number Warner Bros. execs won't be losing any sleep over as it marks the decided bright spot for the studio in a year rife with such high profile, star-driven duds as Collateral Damage, Showtime and Murder by Numbers.

Produced for $46 million—a quarter of which paid Pacino's salary—Insomnia appealed mostly to moviegoers over the age of 30 and equally between men and women with its psychological premise, glowing reviews and Oscar-outfitted cast. It also became the first hit for co-star Robin Williams since 1998's Patch Adams, recovering from such bombs as Death to Smoochy and Jakob the Liar. Williams plays the bad guy in the R-rated drama, a far cry from the family fare that he has had the most success in. He'll go psycho again in August's One Hour Photo.

In a world dominated by computer-animation, DreamWorks' traditionally drawn Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron rustled up a strong $23,213,736 at 3,317 corrals over the weekend. While nowhere near the $55,215,620 that the studio's Shrek gobbled up on the same frame last year, its $17,770,036 three-day figure bested the bows of its traditional studio stable mates The Prince of Egypt ($14,524,321) and The Road to El Dorado ($12,846,652). Families made up 80% of the audience as expected, and 90% of patrons marked the "excellent" or "very good" boxes in exit polls, according to DreamWorks' head of distribution Jim Tharp.

Backed by an aggressive marketing campaign centering around Jennifer Lopez kicking butt, Enough rounded out the top five with $17,213,137 from 2,623 theaters, a marked improvement over J.Lo's last movie Angel Eyes, which bowed to $9,225,575 last May. For the three days, the picture took in $14,009,653, on par with the $13,510,293 opening of The Wedding Planner though a bit shy of J.Lo's personal best The Cell ($17,515,050).

Predictably, the audience for the $38 million "you go girl!" action flick skewed 60% female and 55% under the age of 25, according to Sony's president of worldwide marketing and distribution Jeff Blake. Describing the reaction among young women as "frenzied," Blake said that 90% of moviegoers rated Enough as either "excellent" or "very good" and that 80% would give it a definite recommend.

About a Boy added 542 theaters for a total of 1,749 and saw business rise 15% to $9,821,030 for sixth place. In 11 days, the $27 million Hugh Grant comedy has earned $21,752,225.

Feeling the effect of direct competition from Insomnia and Enough, Unfaithful slipped 25% to $7,554,263. The $50 million Diane Lane-Richard Gere has grabbed $40,996,564 in 20 days.

Sony continued to post solid numbers with The New Guy. The $13 million teen comedy was down 16% to $5,426,096 for an 18-day haul of $24,388,438.

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE CHART

The top 12 pictures grossed $191.4 million, a new Memorial weekend record. Business was up 18% from last weekend and up 8% from the same frame last year, a Memorial weekend that would live in infamy. Pearl Harbor invaded 3,214 theaters and took in $75,177,654—an opening not commensurate with the hype surrounding it—en route to $198,542,554. Shrek enjoyed a 30% boost to $55,215,620 on its way to becoming the highest grossing picture of the summer with a final tally of $267,665,011.



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