Boom at the top

'Pearl,' 'Shrek' lead boffo B.O.

Disney’s “Pearl Harbor” cruised to a second weekend of box office dominance with DreamWorks’ “Shrek” following closely in its wake and three wide openers tailing in tight formation.

The two frontrunners and Universal’s “The Mummy Returns” are now well on their way to $200 million-plus domestic sojourns, matching last year’s entire output of such feats.

Of the bowing pics:

  • Sony’s Rob Schneider laffer “The Animal” chomped a surprising $19.1 million in estimated three-day grosses.

  • 20th Century Fox musical “Moulin Rouge” belted out a full-throated $14.2 million.

  • MGM’s Martin Lawrence-Danny DeVito laffer “What the Worst that Can Happen?” grabbed $13.3 million.

Industrywide, the weekend’s total $126.2 billion repped a 21% uptick from a year ago. That puts B.O. to date up 7% in 2001 at almost $3 billion, according to data from box office tracker ACNielsen EDI.

Sesh saw particularly robust perfs from the top five finishers, which all grossed in the teen millions or better. “Pearl Harbor” grossed another $30 million, and “Shrek” $28.4 million.

“Harbor” slipped past $100 million in nine days — two days earlier than any Disney picture before it — and distrib prexy Chuck Viane expressed satisfaction with the pic’s 49% hold from the previous Monday-through-Friday period during Memorial Day weekend.

“Overall, we’re all as happy as can be,” Viane said.

The Mouse House war pic has amassed an estimated $119.3 million in 10 days.

DreamWorks’ computer-toon comer has drawn $148.6 over three weeks. And U’s “Mummy” sequel — which placed No. 6 this weekend with an estimated $7.5 million — unwrapped $181 million after five frames.

Last year, only U’s “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” ($253.4 million) and Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible 2” ($215.4 million) grossed more than $200 million domestically.

“That was one of the reasons last year was looked at as down (from 1999), the fact that it didn’t have many of those big performers,” EDI veep Dan Marks noted.

This year, there are three $200-mil wannabes so far, and each seems a near-lock to succeed in the quest. “Harbor” has its marketing mania still going full bore, “Shrek” continues to outpace even all-time toon top grosser “The Lion King,” and “Mummy Returns” is only a couple arm lengths from the brass ring.

Wide bows deliver

Meanwhile, this weekend’s trio of new wide releases all opened a bit better than expected.

“Animal,” produced by Revolution Studios with Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Prods., added to core teen males with significant young adults including ample numbers of femmes. Topliner Schneider posted a personal best in the process, as effects-driven “Animal” outpaced 1999’s $12.2 million bow for his “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.”

“To open close to $20 million in a very crowded summer market gives you a really great feeling,” Sony marketing and distrib topper Jeff Blake said. “(Schneider’s) physical comedy was obviously the draw.”

Pic cost an estimated $22 million to produce.

“Rouge,” while skewing dramatically young, drew more males than expected. Auds were 69% under 30 and 62% female.

About 1,000 theaters in smaller markets were soft. So, expect a substantial reduction in pic’s 2,279 engagements within three weeks or so.

“We were a little slow in the small towns,” allowed distrib prexy Bruce Snyder, who nonetheless added Fox was “delighted” with pic’s wide bow.

“Rouge,” which carries a $50 million negative cost, previously sold out in single-theater engagements in L.A. and Gotham the last two weekends.

“What’s the Worst?” — though largely failing to broaden on an urban base — still delivered at the high-end of expectations. Pic’s top 20 theaters were all East Coast urban venues, and the opening paled in comparison to the $25.6 million bow for Lawrence’s “Big Momma’s House” the same weekend last year.

“We played a little older,” MGM distrib boss Larry Gleason said. “We lost the younger audience to ‘Animal’ to some extent.”

It’s believed “What’s the Worst?” — adapted from a Donald Westlake novel — cost about $42 million to make, with Hyde Park co-producing.

“Eyes” droop

Jennifer Lopez starrer “Angel Eyes,” distribbed by Warner Bros. for Franchise Pictures, saw the biggest drop among the weekend top 10. Cop-themed romancer, which carries a reported negative cost pushing $40 million, was bedeviled by a 63% plummet from the previous frame and has grossed only $21.7 million after 17 days.

By contrast, Newmarket’s amnesia thriller “Memento” dropped only 31% to grab 10th place with $1.1 million. Perf came despite losing 52 engagements at 479, as Guy Pearce starrer moved cume to $16 million.

Among limited releases, Artisan’s Netco docu “” continued a slow roll-out, adding two engagements for a total 26 while grossing $123,000, or an average $4,731, and moving cume to $513,000. But distrib’s “Center of the World,” which shed five theaters to 41, grossed only $59,000 for a skimpy $1,439 average and $922,000 cume.

Looking to next weekend, Disney is set to debut its toon feature “Atlantis” in L.A. and Gotham. The frame’s wide bows include DreamWorks unspooling scifi spoof “Evolution” and Warners dishing up John Travolta actioner “Swordfish.”

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