Flashy ‘Musketeer’ skewers ‘Rock Star’

'Game' bows at a surprising second, 'Rush' still going

“The Musketeer,” Universal’s latest take on the classic swashbuckling tale, lanced $10.7 million in estimated box office to capture the first post-summer weekend, as distrib successfully hyped stunting by a martial-arts master in pic’s trailer and TV spots.

Sony Screen Gems’ urban-skewing romantic laffer “Two Can Play That Game” opened at No. 2 with a surprising $8.3 million from only 1,297 engagements. But Warners Bros./Bel Air’s Mark Walhlberg vehicle “Rock Star” seemed beset by stage fright, bowing No. 3 with only $6.2 million in estimated B.O., despite saturation-level releasing.

Meanwhile, New Line’s action comedy “Rush Hour 2” became distrib’s biggest domestic success ever, driving to $206.1 million with another $5.9 million in its sixth weekend. That outpaced the $205.4 million domestic perf for distrib’s 1999 “Austin Powers” sequel.

Artisan bowed suspenser “Soul Survivors” with a barely wide 601 playdates this weekend and scared up $1.1 million in estimated B.O. “Survivors” unspooled in the top 13 domestic markets.

B.O. bests last year

Industrywide, B.O. was up 19% from a year ago with an estimated $73.5 million in total domestic grosses this weekend, according to data from B.O. tracker ACNielsen EDI. Last year, U’s suspenser “The Watcher” topped openers in the same frame with $9.1 million.

The latest weekend repped 2001’s softest sesh so far. But through that frame, ’01 is up 9% over the same period of 2000 with almost $5.7 billion in total B.O.

“While overall business was weak this weekend, it always is this time of year,” EDI prexy Tom Borys noted.

U’s campaign for “Musketeer” emphasized clips of sword-fighting scenes, in which thesps occasionally swayed on stunt wires of the sort used to such good effect in last year’s Sony Classics smash “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

“The picture definitely has a different look to it,” U distrib prexy Nikki Rocco observed.

Skewing over 25

“Musketeer” skewed to moviegoers older than 25. But U cited importance of broadening on that core aud by playing trailer extensively for patrons of distrib’s “American Pie 2,” a big summer hit with younger auds.

Second-week hold will bear watching, as reviews for “Musketeer” have been mostly negative. U paid $3.7 million for North American rights to Moshe Diamant-produced pic and will split domestic and U.K. grosses 50-50 with U.K.-rights holder Miramax.

“It’s certainly going to make a little money for us,” U’s Rocco said.

“Two Can Play,” an R-rated date pic, carries a slim $6 million negative cost. “Play” played best with African-American young adults.

“It’s a very funny picture, and we hope that in the fall it can last long enough to be found by other audiences,” Sony marketing and distrib topper Jeff Blake said.

Pic without a demo

Warners is getting a distrib fee only on Bel Air-produced “Rock Star,” whose wimpy opening comes from a failure to connect well with any particular demo.

“Star” shone brightest with 18-to-35 moviergoers and played best in college markets. Pic skewed 55% female.

United Artists/American Zoetrope’s horror pic “Jeepers Creepers” sneaked up on another $6.2 million despite a big 53% drop-off in its soph sesh. Modestly budgeted pic spooked cume to $24.3 million.

Paramount Classics marked a righteous limited bow for foreign-language drama “Our Lady of the Assassins.” Barbet Schroeder-helmed “Assassins” grossed an estimated $55,044 from four Gotham and L.A. theaters for a killer $13,761 per venue.

Fox Searchlight suspenser “The Deep End” dove into another 75 theaters for a total 401 and hauled back $904,000, or an average $2,254. “Deep End” cume swam to $5.8 million.

UA’s “Ghost World” added 10 playdates for a total 91, as dark laffer grossed $386,000 or $4,246 per engagement. “World” spun cume to $3.7 million.

Fireworks/IDP’s senior romancer “Innocence” courted $85,059 from 13 engagements — seven more than a week ago. Perf repped a winsome $6,543 per venue and wooed cume to $227,119.

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