Bond & wiz carve up turkeys

Leftovers a holiday B.O. bounty

MGM’s James Bond actioner “Die Another Day” was the biggest box office glutton over Thanksgiving’s long holiday weekend, while Warner Bros.’ latest “Harry Potter” fantasy proved a three-day B.O. wizard.

“Die” grossed an estimated $46.3 million over the five-day sesh, with “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” ringing up $45.8 million. But between Friday and Sunday, “Potter” took in $32.1 million, compared to the $31 million registered for the 007 pic.

Meanwhile, “Die” lived another frame in the B.O. spotlight largely because sesh’s five wide releases bowed weakly. And carving up their carcasses produces some interesting morsels:

  • Disney tooner “Treasure Planet,” a visually dense family fantasy costing more than $100 million to produce, proved the biggest turkey. “Planet” spun just $16.5 million in estimated B.O. since its Wednesday debut and finished fourth on the holiday-lengthened frame.

  • Sony’s much less expensive and older-skewing tooner “Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights” opened with $15.1 million in fifth place. Tooners’ close respective perfs well demonstrate how tricky feature animation can be to predict.

  • “Planet” failed to outperform even Mouse House’s leggy live actioner “Santa Clause 2.” Tim Allen starrer earned third place by grossing $17.2 million over the five days and climbing a remarkable 22% in a three-day comparison with the previous weekend.

And speaking of sturdy gams, IFC marathoner “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” finally fell from the top 10 — in its 33rd weekend. Ethnic laffer grossed $5.5 million over five days to push cume to a mind-bending $210.7 million.

Industrywide, holiday weekend’s $150 million in estimated total grosses for Friday-through-Sunday repped a 68% uptick from the same frame a year ago. The big gain was largely because Thanksgiving fell a week sooner in 2001. Sesh was essentially flat when compared with last year’s holiday weekend.

Year-to-date, 2002 is almost 13% ahead of the same period of last year with $8.21 billion in total grosses, according to data from B.O. tracker Nielsen EDI.

That puts ’02 officially ahead of last year with four weeks still remaining in the current calendar. Last year, EDI counted a total $8.13 billion in B.O.

“It’s numbing how impressive the numbers have been this year,” EDI exec veep Dan Marks said. “We have a month to go, and we’ve already set a record.”

New Line soph sesher “Friday After Next” finished sixth this weekend with $11 million over the holiday-lengthened frame and a 10-day cume of $25.6 million.

‘Emperor’ sliding

But Universal’s campus drama “The Emperor’s Club” fell from the top 10 in its second frame with $4.9 million over five days and a $9.4 million cume.

Twentieth Century Fox’s bowing George Clooney starrer “Solaris” placed seventh over the long weekend with $9.5 million.

Universal/Imagine’s Eminem starrer “8 Mile” drove to eighth in its fourth frame with $8.5 million.

Horror pic “Wes Craven Presents: They” from Miramax/Dimension — a $4 million North American acquisition for the specialty distrib — debuted in ninth place with $8 million.

And DreamWorks’ leggy horror pic “The Ring” finished 10th with $7.8 million. Naomi Watts starrer pushed its cume to $120 million.

Paramount opener “Extreme Ops” failed to crack the top 10, with the extreme sports actioner grossing just $3.1 million over five days.

The “Ops” storyline has Balkan war criminals chasing a group of extreme skiing enthusiasts. But though pic’s plot begs a comparison with Sony/Revolution’s “XXX” hit of earlier this year, its B.O. results do not.

“We were very disappointed,” Par distrib chief Wayne Lewellen allowed.

‘Solaris’ sagging

Fox distrib boss Bruce Snyder also acknowledged disappointment with the opening for Steven Soderbergh-helmed “Solaris.”

“The picture was very well reviewed, so I’m thinking maybe the holiday just wasn’t the weekend for audiences to be challenged and they will still show up for the picture,” Snyder offered.

“Solaris” skewed mostly older, so it doesn’t appear pic was helped much by helmer’s successful appeal to have an initial “R” rating changed to “PG13.”

Mouse’s distrib prexy Chuck Viane said the “Planet” opening was “softer than we expected (and) we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed” for better B.O. in coming weeks.

But Sony marketing and distrib topper Jeff Blake expressed satisfaction with the bow for “Eight Crazy Nights,” which was produced for an estimated $34 million.

“By animation standards, that’s downright cheap,” Blake said. “We’ll make a profit on it.”

MGM distrib prexy Erik Lomis said Bond pic’s repeat atop the B.O. heap shows “Day” is playing broadly.

“Marketing was great in getting it to open,” Lomis said. “(But) it’s a good movie, and people really like the film. I think it’s Pierce Brosnan’s best Bond film and (co-star) Halle Berry really adds to it.”

‘Potter’ on track

Warners distrib topper Dan Fellman noted weekend perf gets the “Potter” sequel to $200 million in just 17 days. Franchise original reached $219 million in the same span, but recent strong grosses show sequel is well on track to closely mimic original’s boffo run, Fellman said.

In a solid limited bow Friday, Miramax’s Oz drama “Rabbit-Proof Fence” grossed an estimated $92,000 from nine L.A. and Gotham engagements, or an impressive $10,222 per playdate.

Elsewhere in the specialty market, Focus Features’ drama “Far From Heaven” added 25 theaters for a total 284 and grossed an estimated $2 million over the five-day sesh, or a solid $7,060 per venue with a $5.5 cume.

IDP/Goldwyn drama “The Crime of Father Amaro” expanded by 22 engagements to a total 108 by Friday, grossing $759,132 over three days, or a sinless $7,029 per playdate with a $2.6 million cume.

Miramax’s Michael Caine starrer “The Quiet American” held in a half-dozen locations and grossed $153,000 over the long holiday frame, or a sizeable $12,750 per site with a $277,447 cume. Pic concluded a two-week Academy-consideration run.

‘Ararat’ expands

Distrib’s Armenian drama “Ararat” expanded by 19 theaters to a total 33 and grossed $375,000 over five days, or a solid $6,048 per venue with a $790,555 cume.

Paramount Classics held drama “The Way Home” in five locations and grossed $58,295 over five days, or an impressive $11,659 with a $128,000 cume.

Artisan expanded music docu “Standing in the Shadows of Motown” by 18 engagements and grossed $288,000 over the long sesh, or a solid $5,333 per playdate with a $638,000 cume.

And United Artists broadened drama “Personal Velocity” by three theaters for a total five to gross $58,000 over five days, or $11,600 per venue with a $94,000 cume.

Looking to next weekend, Warners sequel laffer “Analyze That” reps the only skedded wide opener. Distrib is looking for big numbers from the Robert De Niro-Billy Crystal starrer.

Sony also plans a second round of sneak previews for its “Maid in Manhattan” romancer, set to bow wide on Dec. 13.

Jennifer Lopez-Ralph Fiennes starrer staged 424 sneaks this Friday, with 88% of patrons rating pic either “excellent” or “very good” in distrib exit surveys. Sony plans to offer 800 “Maid” sneaks Saturday.

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