The guys in "Three Kings" may have fought their way through the Gulf War but they couldn't get past a gal with a gun as the revenge-driven Ashley Judd in "Double Jeopardy" stubbornly clung to No. 1 at the box office this weekend. "Jeopardy" had a surprisingly small drop-off of 26% in its second weekend on 2,884 screens, taking aim at an estimated $17.2 million. The 10-day total is now $47.2 million, making it the film to beat for the fall season.
While women flooded "Double Jeopardy," the largely lauded "Three Kings" brought in a sufficient number of male grown-ups in big cities, according to Warner Bros., capturing an estimated $16.3 million on 2,942 screens. It was George Clooney's best debut other than "Batman & Robin." But "Kings" will have a challenge in the suburbs and smaller markets unless word of mouth kicks in. The studio reports that exit polls were strong and satisfaction level high. So there is hope.
The weekend's other opening films mainly had weak showings. Among them, only the teen-oriented "Drive Me Crazy" had anything resembling a decent debut--$7.1 million expected on 2,222 screens. But David E. Kelley's hockey drama, "Mystery, Alaska," got off to a subzero start of only $3.1 million in 1,673 theaters. "Elmo in Grouchland" is more bad news for the Jim Henson franchise, taking in only $3.3 million in 1,210 theaters.
Business for the first weekend in October was about $78 million for the top dozen films, according to Exhibitor Relations, about 5% behind the same weekend last year.
"Three Kings" and "Double Jeopardy" may have dominated numbers-wise at the box office but the real star is third-place "American Beauty," which saw a strong 37% rise in business as it climbed to 706 theaters for a handsome $8.1 million weekend--almost $11,500 a screen. With more than $18 million in limited release so far, "Beauty" is catching on and DreamWorks has decided to move it out slightly faster, expanding to more than 1,200 theaters by the weekend.
Sony's Martin Lawrence comedy, "Blue Streak," continues as one of the better fall performers with another $8 million estimated on 2,735 screens in its third weekend and almost $48 million to date, though "Double Jeopardy" is about to surpass it.
But nothing's going to touch "The Sixth Sense," which remains in the top five after nine weeks in release, with the past weekend drawing a still-mystifying $7.1 million in 2,821 theaters, down a mere 16%. Total to date is about $235 million, second-best for the year and among the 20 top grossing movies of all time.
"For Love of the Game" may be eliminated by World Series time, as it dropped to $3.4 million in its third weekend on 2,933 theaters with only $28.3 million so far.
Rounding out the top 10 is "Stigmata," which after only four weeks is not looking so sanguine with $2.3 million in 2,045 theaters, though it has left its mark with $44.3 million in its first month of release. Among specialized films, "Happy, Texas" was barely cracking a smile with $69,320 on eight screens in its debut, less than $9,000 a theater. The older man-younger woman drama "Guinevere" expanded to 31 theaters for a moderate $102,000 estimate and $187,000 so far.