The traditional post-Thanksgiving slump plus snowy weather in New England equaled a predictably soft weekend at the box office, as the theatrical market settled into its mid-holiday doldrums.
The weekend’s sole opener, Universal’s Sylvester Stallone starrer “Daylight,” barely dug itself out of single digits, surfacing in second place with a studio-estimated $10.2 million take. Meanwhile, all but one of the top 10 holdovers – “The English Patient” was the exception – suffered dropoffs of more than 50% compared with last weekend’s three-day take.
Disney’s “101 Dalmatians,” which a week ago trampled previous Thanksgiving Day records, was off 60% to $13.3 million. In 2,812 theaters, the live-action remake averaged $4,730; cume is $62 million.
On the bright side, Woody Allen’s much-heralded musical “Everyone Says I Love You” wooed a promising $133,000 for the first weekend of its one-week Oscar qualifying run on three screens in New York and L.A. Miramax will release the film officially on Jan. 17.
“Daylight,” the Rob Cohen-helmed disaster pic about a group of survivors trapped in a New York City tunnel, made its money in 2,175 locations for a $4,680 average. While low compared to such boffo November debuts as “Ransom” ($34.2 million), ”Space Jam” ($27.5 million) and “Star Trek: First Contact” ($30.7 million), “Daylight’s” $10.2 million debut is historically on par with recent hit films released over the post-Thanksgiving weekend.
Warner Bros.’ ”Disclosure” opened to $10.1 million on Dec. 9, 1994, eventually earning $83 million; last year at this time, BV’s “Father of the Bride 2” bowed to $11.1 million and then went on to gross $76.6 million.
The two weekends after Thanksgiving are typically weak, as adult moviegoers busy themselves with holiday preparations and students buckle down for the end of the school semester. Universal took a chance on releasing ”Daylight” during the traditionally down period in an effort to keep the film from being buried alive by the seven wide releases due in theaters over the next 12 days.
“The strategy was to be the one film opening this weekend, and avoid the crush of films opening over the next two weeks,” said Nikki Rocco, Universal distribution president.
Total receipts for the 10 films grossing over $500,000 was an estimated $53.8 million, up 11% from $48.5 million last year.
In third place, Paramount’s 17-day-old ”Star Trek: First Contact” continued its downward plunge at warp speed. Off 63%, the Jonathan Frakes-helmed sequel collected $6.6 million in 2,812 missions for a $2,347 average.
Still, with a cume of is $71.2 million, the film is on course to surpass the $82.3 million cume of the original ”Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” That would make ”First Contact” the second-highest-grossing of the eight ”Trek” features, behind “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,” which took in $109.7 million in 1986.
Two films appeared tied for fourth place: BV’s ”Ransom” and Fox’s ”Jingle All the Way” each picked up an estimated $5.4 million, according to studio projections. Off 57%, ”Ransom” showed up in 2,411 hideouts for a $2,240 average. After its fifth weekend, the Mel Gibson thriller has cumed $112.8 million. Down 56%, ”Jingle” scoured 2,404 malls for a $2,246 per-screen. The Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy has cumed $37.8 million in 17 days.
Warner Bros.’ ”Space Jam” tumbled 68% to $4.4 million on 2,650 courts for a $1,660 free-throw average. Total after 24 days is $73.2 million.
Miramax’s ”The English Patient” demonstrated the strongest holding power of the top 10 films, dipping just 38% to $2.7 million. In 617 hospital beds, the Ralph Fiennes starrer averaged a healthy $4,376. Now in its fourth week, the drama has cumed $13.3 million.
TriStar and Phoenix Pictures’ ”The Mirror Has Two Faces” saw its way to $2.5 million in its fourth weekend. Off 58%, the Barbra Streisand romance appeared in 2,050 theaters for a $1,220 average. Cume is $37.3 million.
Given the steep dropoffs and the tidal wave of high-profile films opening between now and the end of the year, it appears unlikely that any of the current crop of wide releases – with the exception of ”Dalmatians” and possibly ”Daylight” – will still figure prominently at the box office come Christmas Day.
Twentieth Century Fox’s ”William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet” and New Line’s ”Set It Off” tied for ninth place at $1.2 million, according to studio predictions. That represented a 50% drop for ”Romeo,” which stood below 1,286 balconies for a $933 average. Cume: $41.5 million. ”Set It Off” was down 63% in 851 situations, or $1,410 per screen. Cume after 33 days is $32.3 million.
Fine Line’s highly praised Oz pic “Shine” did $160,000 on 10 screens, dropping 27%. Cume is $707,000.