Wiz biz booming with $83 mil soph sesh
“Harry” was still hungry.Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” grabbed healthy second helpings over the long Turkey Day frame, as family adventure phenom kicked the stuffing out of bowing competish with a record $83.5 million in five-day box office. Disney’s “Monsters, Inc.” — which added 188 playdates this weekend for a total 3,649 — managed a No. 2 finish with an estimated $33.1 million in its fourth sesh. But the “Harry Potter” perf — from a total 3,672 engagements — also dwarfed grosses for three openers: Universal’s “Spy Game” (No. 3), $30.5 million; 20th Century Fox’s “Black Knight” (No. 4), $16.1; and Disney’s “Out Cold” (No. 6), $6.9 million. Industrywide, also-rans’ ho-hum perfs prompted an 11% drop in Friday-through-Sunday grosses — to $157 million — from the same frame a year ago. That’s when a soph-sesh $52.1 million from U’s “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” combined with a three-day $30.3 million for Disney’s bowing “Unbreakable” to deliver an $82.4 million one-two punch. This year, “Harry” grossed $58.6 million over the same three-day period, and “Monsters” rang up $24.5 million — for an even more potent $83.1 million. But the rest of the current top-five grossers compared much less favorably with those from a year ago. In a year-to-date comparison, 2001 is still 9% ahead of the same portion of 2000 at a total $7.2 billion in industrywide grosses, according to data from B.O. tracker ACNielsen EDI. Industry insiders expect ’01 to set B.O. and admissions records, with highly anticipated pics like Warners’ “Ocean’s Eleven” and Sony’s “Ali” still to bow this year. “The outlook between now and Christmas looks pretty spectacular,” EDI prexy Tom Borys observed. In the latest frame, “Harry” broke a previous $80.1 million record for five-day B.O. set by Disney’s “Toy Story 2” over 1999’s Thanksgiving weekend. Soph-sesh perf brought “Harry” cume to $188.1 million through 10 days. Pic remains in a race to get to $200 million quicker than the 13 days it took ’99 blockbuster “Star Wars: Episode One — The Phantom Menace.” “Harry” outpaced “Phantom Menace” to $150 million, grossing $150.1 million through Friday, the eighth day in release for current player and two days quicker to the mark than “Phantom.” “It continues to make motion picture history,” Warner distrib topper Dan Fellman enthused of the latest “Harry” feat. “The film continues to be cheered by audiences of all ages.” Meanwhile, this weekend’s only other soph-sesh player — Lions Gate’s “The Wash” — fell out of the top 10 with an estimated $2.5 million over five days from a barely wide 749 engagements. Urban laffer nudged cume to $6.5 million. Among frame’s openers, U’s “Spy Game” delivered most solidly. But U is on the cuff for about half of an estimated $91 million negative cost on Robert Redford/Brad Pitt starrer, with foreign-rights partner Beacon covering the rest. Fox’s “Behind Enemy Lines,” which unspools over the coming weekend, would seem to pose significant “Game” competish. But U hopes rival military actioner — rated PG13 to its pic’s R — will skew younger and thus offer minimal hindrance. “It’s rewarding to us to know we had a film that’s appealing to an older audience,” U distrib maven Nikki Rocco said. “It was challenging — very few of these kind of pictures open on the holiday weekend.” Fox distrib boss Bruce Snyder called the “Knight” grosses “a good start.” But the Regency co-prod had been looking to ride its PG13 rating a bit further out of the gate. Ditto for Disney’s “Out Cold,” a Spyglass co-prod. Teen laffer will look to pad profits with a likely winter homevid debut. In a specialty bow this weekend, Paramount Classics unspooled its “Sidewalks of New York” in 99 locations and grossed $713,000, or a solid $7,202 per site. Romancer — delayed after the Sept. 11 tragedies — expands into top 50 markets over the coming frame. Sony Classics debuted its “The Devil’s Backbone” in four Gotham theaters and grossed an estimated $48,645, or a fiery $12,161 per venue. Guillermo Del Toro-helmed ghost story spooks L.A. and other top markets in December. Miramax’s “Amelie” added 54 engagements for a total 217 and grossed an estimated $2.3 million over five days, or an impressive $10,758 million per playdate. French-language laffer boosted cume to $7.8 million. USA Films’ “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” which grossed an estimated $1.2 million over five days, managed a 5% uptick over the latest Friday-through-Sunday frame despite shedding four theaters to 246. Coen brothers drama, which grossed an average $4,878 over the long sesh, raised cume to $4.6 million. Miramax bowed drama “In the Bedroom” with four Gotham and L.A. engagements, grossing $95,000 or a whopping $23,750 per playdate. Distrib expands “Bedroom” into top-20 markets on Christmas. And Artisan shot Steve Martin starrer “Novocaine” into 15 more theaters at 120 to gross $471,000, or $3,925 per venue. Cume moved to $970,000.