Tags: 'Grinch' | Opening | Leads | U.S. | Box | Offices

'Grinch' Opening Leads U.S. Box Offices

Sunday, 19 November 2000 12:00 AM

"The Grinch," backed by an intensive marketing campaign by Universal, posted the fifth-biggest Friday-Sunday opening ever, trailing only "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," "Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace," "Mission: Impossible 2" and "Toy Story 2." "The Lost World" posted a $72.1 million debut in 1997.

"The Grinch" also posted the best opening ever for a non-sequel, edging the $54.9 million record set in July by "X-Men."

The total for "The Grinch," based on the well-known 1957 story of a grouchy but lovable green cave dweller, was well above expectations. Industry tracker Arthur Rockwell of Rockwell Capital Management said, "The buzz in Hollywood was for something in the $40 million range, so the numbers show just how powerful this material is. It was the right vehicle at the right time."

"The Grinch" looks likely to take in somewhere around $150 million by the end of its run. The performance also underscored the power of Carrey's box office appeal, which had appeared to wane somewhat in his most recent projects "Man on the Moon" and "Me, Myself & Irene."

Rockwell noted that "The Grinch" appears well-positioned to remain at the head of the box office through the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday with competition coming from Disney's Wednesday openings of family comedy "102 Dalmatians" and mystery-drama "Unbreakable."

"'The Grinch' obviously will be around as a strong performer for the rest of the year," Rockwell said. "The material is overpowering in terms of a built-in audience and Jim Carrey is the right actor for it. Everyone knows the story already."

For Universal, which is in the process of being sold by Seagram to Paris-based Vivendi, the weekend also marked the fifth consecutive title it has seen open in first place following "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps," "Bring It On," "The Watcher" and "Meet the Parents." Universal said it was the first time a studio has ever achieved such a streak.

Opening a distant but solid second was Paramount's "Rugrats in Paris: The Movie" with $23 million at 2,934 theaters as the sequel benefited from the wide exposure the animated cartoon receives on Nickelodeon. Both Paramount and Nickelodeon are owned by Viacom.

"It's a great example of synergy," Rockwell noted. "They have obviously created a franchise with a lot of value and there are a lot of kids and parents out there who will see this film."

The opening was $4.3 million short of the 1998 original "Rugrats," which went on to stun Hollywood by topping $100 million, but in line with expectations. Studio representatives said the movie generated strong exit polls and should be quite profitable given its relatively inexpensive $30 million cost.

Sony's third weekend of "Charlie's Angels" followed in third with $13.7 million at 3,037 theaters to bring its 17-day total to $93.6 million. The studio, which should see another $50 million from the action-comedy, is already planning a sequel.

Sony's opening of Arnold Schwarzenegger's futuristic action film "The Sixth Day" came in fourth with a respectable $13.2 million at 2,518 theaters, moving the tale of an innocent man discovering he has been cloned into position to post solid but not spectacular numbers over Thanksgiving. "The opening is decent but a lot of its business is probably coming from the overseas markets," Rockwell said. "Schwarzenegger's films tend to travel well."

Miramax's opening of romantic comedy-drama "Bounce," with Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck, finished fifth with $11.5 million at 1,918 sites. "It's a decent start for a film that wasn't expected to be a hit, " Rockwell said.

20th Century Fox's second weekend of "Men of Honor" followed with $8 million at 2,119 sites, edging New Line's second weekend of "Little Nicky" with $7.7 million at 2,910 locations as the latter lost 52 percent from its opening weekend.

The seventh weekend of "Meet the Parents" continued its powerful performance in eighth place with $6.4 million at 2,412 sites to push its 45-day total to $138.6 million. "Parents" is now the 95th highest domestic grosser ever after "Sister Act" and ahead of "Good Will Hunting."

Rounding out the top 10 were DreamWorks' third weekend of "The Legend of Bagger Vance" with $2.9 million at 2,109 theaters and Warner Bros.' second weekend of "Red Planet" with $2.7 million at 2,703 sites as the science-fiction saga plunged an astounding 69 percent from its opening weekend. With only $13.4 million in 10 days, "Planet" will be a big money-loser for the studio.

Disney's eighth weekend of "Remember the Titans" came in 11th with $2.3 million at 1,659 screens, followed by Universal's sixth weekend of "Billy Elliot" with $1.8 million at 497 sites. On the art-house circuit, Paramount Classics' "You Can Count on Me" continued to perform well with $320,000 at 35 theaters.

Overall, the top 12 films grossed $148 million, up 53 percent from last weekend and up 42 percent from the year-ago weekend when "The World is Not Enough'' and "Sleepy Hollow" both topped $30 million. "This is the kind of weekend that exhibitors can really make some money despite all their recent problems," Rockwell said. "There's a great mix of films."

(C) 2000 UPI All Rights Reserved.

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The Grinch, backed by an intensive marketing campaign by Universal, posted the fifth-biggest Friday-Sunday opening ever, trailing only The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Mission: Impossible 2 and Toy Story 2. The Lost World ...
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