‘Parents’ Gets In the Last Word With Moviegoers


The Subway Series had little impact (outside of New York) on box office over the weekend. None of the new arrivals was able to get a toehold on “Meet the Parents,” which has become a runaway hit, dropping a slight 23% in its third weekend to an estimated $16.3 million in 2,619 theaters. After only 17 days, the Robert De Niro/Ben Stiller comedy has grossed a potent $81 million, and should easily laugh its way past $100 million in the next week to 10 days. Not surprisingly, a sequel is already in the works.

Comedy competition from the indifferently reviewed “Bedazzled,” starring Brendan Fraser, proved to be less than stiff, though the umpteenth Faust variation got off to a promising start of about $13.7 million in 2,567 theaters, attracting kids on Friday and weekend matinees and older patrons on Saturday night, according to Fox distribution head Bruce Snider.

The battle for third place was between the stalwart “Remember the Titans” and newcomer “Pay It Forward,” with the latter holding the edge in box office estimates. “Pay It Forward,” starring Oscar winners Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey, along with “The Sixth Sense” revelation Haley Joel Osment, pulled in all-over-the-place reviews. But, despite two weekends of paid previews, the feel-good drama made it no higher than an estimated $10.15 million in 2,130 theaters, skewing toward older females. The silver lining is that the exit polls were among the best the studio has ever recorded, according to Warner Bros. distribution head Dan Fellman, portending that word of mouth may carry the inspirational film forward in the coming weeks.


After four weeks, “Titans” is already at $77.4 million, after adding an additional $10 million or so over the weekend in 2,801 theaters. This inspirational football film will also join the $100-million club before long.

Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong import, “The Legend of Drunken Master,” didn’t have much kick, with about $3.7 million expected in 1,342 theaters, auguring a quick hop to the video shop. “Master” was running just a hair ahead of “The Contender,” which remains in the race with an acceptable 33% drop in 1,571 theaters and about $3.6 million in lap two for a 10-day total of $10.6 million. “Lost Souls” lost most of its audience from opening weekend. Typical of movies about the supernatural, “Souls” shed almost 60% of its first weekend gross, free-falling to an estimated $3.25 million in 1,970 theaters and a tepid two-week total of just under $13 million.

The reissue of “The Exorcist” should play through Halloween, based on a fifth-weekend gross of about $2.9 million in 1,708 theaters and almost $35 million to date, making the almost 30-year-old film one of the better performers of the fall season.

“The Ladies Man” is proving to be one of the “Saturday Night Live” series’ weaker contributions to cinema, drooping 48% in its second weekend to an estimated $2.85 million in 2,043 venues and a moderate $9.7 million so far. Robert Altman’s “Dr. T and the Women” is suffering from a similar diagnosis, losing half its opening-weekend audience, down to an estimated $2.5 million in its second weekend in 1,489 theaters, for about $9 million to date.

In limited release, the drama “The Yards,” starring Mark Wahlberg, got off to a slow start--about $52,000 in eight theaters. “Requiem for a Dream” is doing somewhat better, with $87,000 on five screens in New York and Los Angeles and $256,000 to date.

Among the specialized film expansions, “Best in Show” is now on 497 screens, adding another $2.2 million over the weekend, and just missing the top 10. Its total so far is almost $7 million. Spike Lee’s “Bamboozled” climbed to 244 screens but managed only $425,000, bringing it to just under $850,000 so far. By comparison, the British film “Billy Elliot” is only on 37 screens and danced its way to a strong $503,000 in its second weekend and has already taken in $826,000.

For the second consecutive weekend, attendance was up from last year (14% in this case), with the top dozen films grossing about $72.5 million, according to Exhibitor Relations. Next weekend should be even better as the curious come out for the “Blair Witch Project” sequel as well as a new John Travolta comedy, “Lucky Numbers,” and the family film “The Little Vampire.” And, after that, the first of the holiday films arrives--"Charlie’s Angels” and Robert Redford’s “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” starring Matt Damon and Will Smith.