The return of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as buddy cops in Sony’s “Bad Boys II” proved roughly as big as expected, topping weekend box office rankings with an estimated $46.7 million.
Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” — like “Bad Boys II,” produced by hitmeister Jerry Bruckheimer — finished No. 2 with $33.3 million on a skimpy 29% drop from its debut weekend. Bruckheimer thus became the only producer ever to grab the top two box office spots, though Steven Spielberg managed a similar feat with exec producer credits on last year’s “Minority Report” and “Men in Black II.”
Twentieth Century Fox soph-sesher “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” finished third with $10.1 million, as Sean Connery starrer fell 56% from its opening grosses.
Another wide opener, Universal/Working Title’s spy spoof “Johnny English,” finished fourth with $9.3 million. And New Line’s romancer “How to Deal” debuted with $5.8 mil in eighth place.
Industrywide, the weekend repped a big 22% improvement over the same frame a year ago with $146 million in total estimated grosses, according to B.O. tracker Nielsen EDI. That was primarily because “Stuart Little 2” and “K-19: The Widowmaker” opened weakly over the year-earlier frame, however, and upcoming seshes will offer more challenging comparisons.
Summer 2003 is now flat, with B.O. from a similar portion of the previous summer. Year-to-date, ’03 is off 3% from a comparable portion of 2002.
‘Dirty’ looks pretty
Miramax staged an impressive limited bow this weekend with Stephen Frears’ British drama “Dirty Pretty Things,” which unspooled in five L.A. and Gotham locations and grossed an estimated $101,000, or $20,200 per site.
Distrib also expanded French romancer “Jet Lag” by two engagements for a total 24 and grossed $47,000. That repped a limp $1,958 per playdate with a $410,417 cume.
Elsewhere in the specialty market, Newmarket drama “Whale Rider” added 171 theaters for a total 442 and grossed $1.4 million, or $3,133 per venue with a $7.8 million cume. Platformer gets another 125 engagements Friday.
Sony Classics broadened docu “Winged Migration” by 21 playdates for a total 144 and grossed $418,607, or $2,907 per engagement with a $5.9 million cume.
Magnolia expanded docu “Capturing the Friedmans” by four runs for a total 78 and grossed $190,000, or $2,436 per site with a $2.2 million cume.
“I Capture the Castle,” a romancer from Goldwyn/IDP, added 18 playdates for a total 26 and grossed $119,600, or $4,600 per engagement with a $195,537 cume.
Paramount Classics’ drama “Northfork” expanded by 19 theaters for a total 14 and grossed $101,853, or a solid $7,275 per venue with a $190,637 cume. Polish brothers’ pic broadens to 35 runs Friday.
And CAVU drama “The Holy Land” added two additional engagements for a total three in grossing $31,000, or a notable $10,333 with a $62,014 cume. Pic’s set for at least three more engagements next weekend.
Disney drew 77% capacity auds to 999 sneaks of family laffer remake “Freaky Friday” on Friday. Jamie Curtis-Lindsay Lohan starrer opens Aug. 6.
Array of challengers
Wide releases targeting three distinct sets of auds are skedded to unspool this Friday. Universal sends out adult drama “Seabiscuit,” Paramount opens teen actioner “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life,” and Miramax bows family actioner “Spy Kids 3D: Game Over.”
Sony execs hoping to withstand the onslaught of fresh competish took heart in Friday night exit surveys showing 91% rated “BBII” “excellent” or “very good.” Auds were 55% comprised of moviegoers under age 25, with patrons evenly split between males and femmes.
Some industryites had predicted “BBII” might open north of $50 million, but its restricted rating always made such forecasts a bit iffy.
“This is a fun thrill ride that could never be anything but R-rated,” Sony marketing and distrib boss Jeff Blake observed. Perf repped the fourth best bow of an R-rated pic ever.
Marketing prexy Geoff Ammer called bow “pretty spectacular” and noted sequel should outgross its 1995 progenitor’s entire domestic run of $65.8 million by the end of its first week.
“BBII” gave Lawrence his biggest bow ever, outpacing 2000’s “Big Momma’s House” ($25.6 million). Smith’s personal best remains last year’s “MiB2,” which opened at $52.1 million.
Disney execs were jubilant over their neat trick of following last weekend’s big “Pirates” with a rare soph-sesh drop of under 30%.
“It’s obviously the playability of the movie,” Disney distrib boss Chuck Viane said.
“Johnny English,” which has already grossed over $117 million overseas, “will be one of the more profitable pictures from Universal for the year,” distrib maven Nikki Rocco said.
Domestic opening repped “a very respectable number,” Rocco said.
PG-rated “Johnny” drew auds comprised 53% of family moviegoers, with 25% of patrons under age 13.
Spokesman John Smith acknowledged New Line disappointment with the opening for “How to Deal.” But pic was an inexpensive $6.5 million pickup from Radar, he added.
“Deal” drew mostly only young and older femmes, based on appeal of topliners Mandy Moore and Allison Janney.