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'Meet the Parents' Sets a Good Example at Box Office

Movies: The comedy attracts range of viewers to break October records. 'Titans' comes in second.


The positively reviewed comedy "Meet the Parents," starring Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller, arrived at theaters over the weekend, breaking all October records and doing much to alleviate the prolonged box office slump of the last several weeks.

Jay Roach, director of the Austin Powers movies, seems to have struck another rich comedic vein with "Meet the Parents," which took in an estimated $29.1 million in 2,612 theaters.

According to Universal's head of distribution, Nikki Rocco, "everyone" went to see the "Parents"--attendance was evenly split among younger and older viewers and males and females, and exit polls were more than upbeat.

Running second is the first major hit of the fall season, "Remember the Titans," starring Denzel Washington, which upped its theater count to 2,701 runs and sustained a minor 6% drop from its first weekend haul. Second weekend tally was an estimated $19.6 million for a handsome $46.2 million in just 10 days. If it continues to hold, "Titans" will flirt with the $100-million level.

The news is not so good for Sylvester Stallone, whose not-available-for-reviews remake of "Get Carter" brought in $6.7 million in 2,315 theaters, presaging a short theatrical run. Also unimpressive was "Digimon: The Movie," yet another attempt to draw patrons into a feature film version of a TV show. Even given the dearth of kids-only movies at this time of year "Digimon" made do with an estimated $4.1 million in 1,822 theaters, showing only modest gains Saturday and Sunday.

Thanks to "Parents" and "Titans," dollar levels for the top 12 movies almost reached the levels of last year at this time, according to Exhibitor Relations, grossing about $77 million, just 4% behind last year. The rest of the fall season needs at least two or three major surprises or the year will fall perilously behind the record set in 1999.

Holding with an acceptable 36% drop, "The Exorcist" continued to perform like a new movie on 1,150 screens. Third weekend estimate is about $4.6 million, for a total to date of just over $24 million. Expect more screams on Friday the 13th as "The Exorcist" expands in an attempt to cash in on the Halloween season.

After four weeks of release, "Almost Famous" is doing only moderately well, with the past weekend dropping to $3.8 million despite an increase of runs (now at 2,050). Total after one month is a disappointing $23.3 million.

"Urban Legends 2: Final Cut" took in an addition $2.6 million in its third weekend on 2,539 screens for $18.2 million so far. "Bring it On" brought in about $2.2 million over the weekend on 2,375 screens for $62.4 million to date.

Still hanging out in the top 10 after 12 weeks in theaters is "What Lies Beneath," with another $1.2 million expected over the weekend in 1,375 theaters and $152.2 million to date. Tied for 10th place at $1.1 million apiece are "Nurse Betty" and "The Watcher." To date, "Betty" has nursed $22.7 million, while "Watcher" has eyed almost $28 million.

In exclusive runs, the field is heating up. Spike Lee's racial satire "Bamboozled" premiered on 17 screens for a promising $175,000 and will move into another 200 or so screens Oct. 20. In two theaters in New York, "Requiem for a Dream," the anti-drug film that premiered without a rating rather than accept the NC-17, dreamed up a powerful $72,000 and will come West on Oct. 20. "Dancer in the Dark," starring pop singer Bjork, brought in $600,000 in 111 theaters for a total to date of just under $1 million.

The critically well-received Vietnam War-era drama "Tigerland" was in five major city screens for a moderate $29,000. The Australian dance film "Bootmen" came in with only $12,214 in 11 theaters. But in a New York exclusive run, the 50th anniversary reissue of "All About Eve" grossed $12,340 on just one screen. It opens in Los Angeles in November.

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