You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

U’s sizzling summer driving record B.O.

Labor Day weekend poised to lift season's grosses

An all-time mark for summer box office will be reached this weekend — though admissions will fall short of a record — as a couple of openers with so-so prospects battle two pics returning for brief expansions over the season’s final frame. Also, Universal has emerged as the clear-cut winner for the season’s market-share crown.

Box office tracker ACNielsen EDI projects Labor Day grosses likely will lift summer B.O. to about $2.93 billion. That’s 10% higher than summer 2000 and 5% more than 1999’s record season tally.

On the other hand, ticket prices jumped 6% last year and are believed up a few percentage points already in 2001. So this summer won’t beat will admissions in ’99, when a of total 550 million tickets were sold to moviegoers between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

Using an EDI estimate that ticket prices average about $5.66 — compared with $5.39 in ’99 — the B.O. tracker estimates this summer’s admissions likely will top out at about 518 million through Labor Day, 6% under the record set two summers ago. There were roughly 492 million admissions last summer.

Meanwhile, U will take the season’s market-share laurels no matter what happens over the Labor Day sesh. Distrib leads Disney with $487.9 million vs. $381.3 million in total summer B.O. through the final August frame, or a top 17% in market share compared with slightly less than 14% for the Mouse.

U also leads year-to-date comparisons with $714.2 million in B.O. since Jan. 2, translating into a 13% market share.

Three of U’s four biggest summer perfs have come from sequels — “Jurassic Park III,” “American Pie 2” and “The Mummy Returns.” Surprise blockbuster “The Fast and the Furious” followed “Park III” as distrib’s second-biggest hit of the season.

Laboring to the top

This weekend sees MGM’s United Artists specialty unit today unspool horror pic “Jeepers Creepers,” the first of several planned co-productions with Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope, in 2,944 theaters. And Lions Gate finally releases “O” — an “Othello” update whose release has been delayed since 1999 over concerns about its youth-violence content — in some 1,434 venues.

Bowing pics will do battle with Disney’s “Pearl Harbor,” as Mouse House expands its summer tentpole to a wide 1,036 theaters from a slim 116 venues last weekend. Mouse is also expanding family tooner “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” to 785 locations from only 125 last weekend.

“I’m very hopeful that we will be No. 1 this weekend,” MGM/UA marketing and distrib topper Bob Levin said of prospects for “Jeepers Creepers.” “The movie is tracking well, and (horror) movies tend to undertrack.”

Openers face relatively modest competish from pics entering their soph seshes.

Among last weekend’s five openers, only Miramax/Dimension’s “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” broke into double-digital millions with an $11 million bow. United Artists’ “Jeepers Creepers” should just exceed that mark over four days, but Lions Gates’ “O” will labor to do as well.

Lions Gate distrib prexy Tom Ortenberg said “O” has seen an improvement in its tracking recently. “We’re peaking at the right time.”

Tracking shows keenest interest among younger females “and to a lesser degree younger males,” he said.

Stringing ‘Pearl’

Disney’s “Pearl Harbor,” which bowed over the long Memorial Day sesh, has delivered this summer’s second-biggest perf after DreamWorks’ “Shrek.” “Harbor” grossed $195.5 million through Sunday.

Pic aims to steam past $200 million in domestic B.O., and — though it will probably only perform modestly,– “Harbor” soon could reach the magic mark. Mouse House distrib boss Chuck Viane predicted the World War II epic and “Atlantis” will do significant biz over the holiday-lengthened frame.

“There’s a certain softness in the bottom part of the market right now,” Viane noted.

The Labor Day weekend, despite its length, is hardly known for avid moviegoing. Last year, Miramax’s “Highlander: End Game” topped openers with a measly $6.2 million over four days.

(Anthony D’Alessandro contributed to this report.)

More Film

  • Steve Bannon appears in The Brink

    Sundance Film Review: Stephen K. Bannon in 'The Brink'

    Stephen K. Bannon drinks Kombucha (who knew?), the fermented tea beverage for health fanatics that tastes like…well, if they ever invented a soft drink called Germs, that’s what Kombucha tastes like. In “The Brink,” Alison Klayman’s fly-on-the-wall, rise-and-fall-and-rise-of-a-white-nationalist documentary, Bannon explains that he likes Kombucha because it gives him a lift; he drinks it for [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • Oscar OScars Placeholder

    Cinematographers Praise Academy Reversal: 'We Thank You for Your Show of Respect'

    Cinematographers who fought the decision to curtail four Oscar presentations have praised the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for reversing the exclusions. “We thank you for your show of respect for the hard-working members of the film community, whose dedication and exceptional talents deserve the public recognition this reversal now allows them to enjoy,” [...]

  • Peter Parker and Miles Morales in

    'Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse' Colored Outside the Lines

    The well-worn superhero genre and one of its best-known icons are unlikely vehicles for creating a visually fresh animated feature. But Sony Pictures Animation’s work on the Oscar-nominated animated feature “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” shows throwing out the rule book and letting everyone play in the creative sandbox can pay off big. “I think we [...]

  • Denis Villeneuve

    Denis Villeneuve's 'Dune' Gets November 2020 Release Date

    Warner Bros. has scheduled Legendary’s science-fiction tentpole “Dune” for a Nov. 20, 2020, release in 3D and Imax. “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa is in negotiations to join the “Dune” reboot with Timothee Chalamet, Javier Bardem, Rebecca Ferguson, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, and Zendaya. Production is expected to launch in the spring [...]

  • James Bond Spectre

    Bond 25 Moved Back Two Months to April 2020

    James Bond will arrive two months later than planned as MGM moved back the release date on the untitled Bond 25 movie from Feb. 14 to April 8, 2020 — a Wednesday before the start of Easter weekend. It’s the second delay for Bond 25. MGM and Eon originally announced in 2017 that the film [...]

  • Fast and Furious 8

    'Fast and Furious 9' Release Date Pushed Back Six Weeks

    Universal Pictures has shifted “Fast and Furious 9” back six weeks from April 10 to May 22, 2020 — the start of the Memorial Day weekend. It’s the second backwards shift for the title. In 2017, Universal moved the film back a year from April 19, 2019, to April 10, 2020. Both dates fall on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content