Military drama beats forecast

Sony/Revolution Studios’ “Black Hawk Down” soared to an estimated $35.3 million in box office over the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, after official tallies showed stronger-than-expected Sunday grosses and distribs boosted estimates for the four-day frame.

A snowy Saturday along the East Coast had execs wondering Sunday what the next two B.O. days would bring (Daily Variety, Jan. 21). As it turned out, the well-reviewed military drama captured $29.5 million — a half mil more than expected.

That prompted the distrib to up its four-day estimate by $1.3 million.

“It looks like word of mouth is real strong,” Sony marketing/distribution topper Jeff Blake enthused Monday.

Revolution partner Tom Sherak said 62% of patrons for the Ridley Scott-helmed, Jerry Bruckheimer-produced pic were under age 30, with auds skewing 58% male.

“That’s a much closer male-female ratio than we would have expected,” Sherak said.

The frame was the first in wide release for “Hawk” after several weeks of limited play. The four-day perf boosted the pic’s cume to an estimated $37.1 million.

Elsewhere, Disney likewise was able to mush its “Snow Dogs” opener to bigger-than-anticipated grosses, as the family laffer piled up an estimated $23 million over four days. The successful bow included $18 million in B.O. for the pic’s first three days of release, as official Sunday data came in $500,000 higher than distrib had projected.

Industrywide, 2002 is off 5% from the same period last year at $491 million in total grosses, according to data from B.O. tracker ACNielsen EDI.

“Last year got off to an awfully strong start,” EDI exec veep Dan Marks noted. “So the fact that we’re down a little so far is not necessarily a harbinger of anything bad. This is a good start to the new year.”

In a limited bow this weekend, Lions Gate’s urban drama “State Property” grossed $575,000 over four days from 63 engagements, or a notable $9,127 per venue. “Property” widens to 81 playdates on Friday.

Disney’s Imax-format release “Beauty and the Beast Special Edition” took in $2.3 million over the long frame, boosting the cume to $10.6 million through 21 days.

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