20th Century Fox’s “Swimfan” splashed blithely past crix’ nixes this weekend, as youthful suspenser opened at No. 1 with an estimated $12.4 million.
IFC/Gold Circle’s “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” spent a second frame as bridesmaid, with laffer grossing an estimated $10.6 million over its 21st sesh in platformed release. And Warner Bros./Franchise’s Robert De Niro starrer “City by the Sea” bowed third with $9.1 million.
Industrywide, fall’s first frame produced $73 million in estimated total grosses, according to B.O. tracker Nielsen EDI. Perf repped eighth consecutive decline in year-over-year weekend comparisons.
Year-ago frame was topped by the underwhelming $10.3 million bow of “The Musketeer.” But the most recent sesh was undermined by several pics marking drops from the previous weekend even a bit more severe than the usual substantial fall-offs from the last weekend of summer.
Year-to-date, 2002 remains almost 12% ahead of the same portion of last year with $6.37 billion in total grosses.
“Girl” gone from top 10
Fox Searchlight’s Jennifer Aniston starrer “The Good Girl” tumbled from the top 10 this weekend with $1.5 million from 690 engagements — up 23 from the previous frame. Perf repped a soft $2,210 per screen but brought modestly budgeted black comedy’s cume to a pleasing $9.7 million.
Searchlight’s Robin Williams suspenser “One Hour Photo” also slipped from the top rankings with $1.5 million from 173 playdates, a boost of nine. But per-theater average was a vivid $8,382 a week before “Photo” develops into wide release with an anticipated 1,200 engagements. Cume reached $5.9 million with pic carrying an estimated negative cost of about $10 million.
Elsewhere among specialty releases, Paramount Classics’ “Mostly Martha” added four locations for a total 70 and grossed an estimated $278,482, or $3,978 per site. German-language laffer expands to 60 markets from a present 40 on Friday.
United Artists’ music drama “24 Hour Party People” expanded three theaters to a total 35 and grossed $93,000, or $2,649 per venue with a $761,000 cume.
Thinkfilm drama “The Last Kiss” added three engagements for a total 18 and wooed $61,600, or $3,423 per playdate with a $304,600 cume.
And Rainforest lifted suspenser “Pandora’s Box” to 16 locations from 14 in grossing $21,206, or $1,325 per site with a $270,252 cume.
Fox distrib exec veep Rick Myerson said television spots and promos proved more meaningful for PG-13-rated “Swimfan” than crix brickbats.
“Kids are more media-driven,” said Myerson, who added that decent support among young males bolstered teen-femme base.
Youthful cast includes Jesse Bradford (“Bring It On”), Erika Christensen (“Traffic”) and Shiri Appleby (“Roswell”). Negative cost is believed under $10 million on the John Polson-helmed pic. “Swimfan” reps Oz-born director’s first domestic release, as his only previous feature, “Siam Sunset,” saw some international play but no Stateside theaters.
Polson expects the No. 1 “Swimfan” bow to enhance his profesh profile and is currently in “very active development” with two other pics: “Fear Itself,” a “Straw Dogs”-inspired thriller, is based at Miramax; lit-adaptation “Up and Comer” is being development by Michael Douglas’ Further Films, a producer on “Swimfan” along with Fox and Greenestreet.
“I think the next year of my life should come into focus within the next two weeks,” Polson said.
“Greek” still chic
“Greek Wedding,” which counts Playtone and HBO among as co-producers along with Gold Circle, added 76 engagements this weekend for a total 1,695.
” ‘Swimfan’ was a little stronger than we expected — they did a terrific campaign,” Gold Circle prexy Paul Brooks said. “But our 5% dropoff is an amazing result for the weekend after Labor Day, and we’re very pleased.”
Pic marketing consultant Bob Berney expects to add another 100 theaters Friday and 150 more over the following two frames as leggy laffer makes like the Energizer Bunny.
“I think we’ll go up over $100 million by this Thursday,” Berney said.
“City by the Sea,” based on a true story about a cop and his troubled son, was produced by Franchise for an estimated $10 million, with Warners distribbing for a fee.
“I’m happy for (Franchise chief) Elie (Samaha),” Warners distrib topper Dan Fellman said. “The film ultimately will make a profit.”
Disney’s “Signs,” which finished fourth on the weekend with $8 million, became the second summer opener — after “Austin Powers in Goldmember” — to cross the $200 million milestone. M. Night Shyamalan-helmed suspenser lifted cume to $205.8 million through six seshes.
“Goldmember” hit $207.1 million domestically with another $2.8 million this weekend — good for seventh place.
B.O. tag team for Sony
Meanwhile, a couple other big summer players also padded their profits — but not their cumes.
Sony double-billed May opener “Spider-Man” and summer sequel “Men in Black 2” to ring up an estimated $2 million. But Sony spokesman Steve Elzer said the weekend’s gross wouldn’t figure in official totals for either film.
“We’ll count that separately,” Elzer said. “Spidey” sits at $403.7 million and “MiB2” $190.4 million.
The only soph-sesher this frame — Warners horror pic “FearDotCom” — was bruised by a 59% drop to $2.3 million in eighth place with a $10.5 million cume. Similarly crushed was Universal/Imagine’s surfer girls actioner “Blue Crush,” which fell 59% to $1.8 million in ninth place for a $37 million cume through four frames.
But sesh’s worst fall-off — with a whopping 61% plunge — was Paramount’s “Saving Sara,” which grossed $1.7 million in 10th place. Elizabeth Hurley-Matthew Perry reached an estimated 17-day cume of just $14.3 million.)
Two wide openers are set for next weekend. Sony/Imagine bows Tom Green’s “Stealing Harvard” comedy, while MGM unspools Ice Cube laffer “Barbershop.”