Weekend Box Office
Mel Gibson scored the highest-grossing film of his career on Monday as the supernatural thriller “Signs” retained the lead at the Labor Day holiday weekend box office in North America, the traditionally lackluster end of the summer movie-going season.
“Signs,” from writer/producer/director M. Night Shyamalan, pulled in $16.5 million for the four-day period beginning Friday, taking its 32-day total to $195 million. It surpasses the 2000 romantic comedy “What Women Want” ($183 million) as the top film in the 46-year-old Gibson’s canon.
Additionally, “Signs” became the only movie this summer to log three weekends at No. 1. It opened in the top spot during the first weekend of August, was pushed aside by “XXX” over the next two periods, and then recaptured the crown last weekend. The film was released by Touchstone Pictures, a unit of Walt Disney Co .
Next weekend, “Signs” will battle for top spot with perhaps the most successful film of the year, the arthouse comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” which jumped two spots to a new high of No. 2 in its 20th weekend of release.
The $5 million film earned $14.6 million this weekend, taking its total to $82.4 million. Nia Vardalos stars as a frumpy spinster who causes chaos in her proud Greek-American family when she becomes engaged to a WASP. It was released by IFC Films, a unit of Rainbow Media Holdings Inc., which is majority owned by Cablevision Systems Corp .
“FEARDOTCOM” OPENS AT NO. 5
The top 10 contained one new release: the Internet horror “Feardotcom” grossed a middling $7.1 million it first four days, tying at No. 5 with “Austin Powers in Goldmember.” The new film, in which the Web uses psychological energy to invade the lives of its innocent users, stars Stephen Dorff and Natascha McElhone.
The low-budget picture was released by Warner Bros. Pictures, and “Austin Powers” by New Line Cinema, both units of AOL Time Warner Inc .
In between were “XXX” (Columbia) at No. 3 with $13.1 million and “Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams” (Dimension) at No. 4 with $7.3 million, both down one spot from last weekend. Their respective totals are $123.9 million and $69.1 million. Columbia is a unit of Sony Corp. and Dimension a division of Disney’s Miramax Films unit.
Overall receipts fell for the seventh weekend in a row, according to tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. The top 12 films grossed $82 million for the four days and $65 million for the three days; by the latter measure, the box office hit its lowest mark since Sept. 28-30 last year ($64.1 million).
Receipts for the summer, which traditionally kicks off on the Memorial Day holiday weekend (May 24-27), are expected to reach about $3 billion, about two to three percent higher than last year, said Gitesh Pandya, editor at BoxOfficeGuru.com.
But the rise is attributable to higher ticket prices, he added, as admissions were about flat.
The top films were “Spider-Man” ($405 million) and the relative disappointment “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” ($300 million). High-profile bombs included “Stuart Little 2,” Nicolas Cage’s “Windtalkers,” Harrison Ford’s “K:19 — The Widowmaker” and Eddie Murphy’s “The Adventures of Pluto Nash.”
NEW BREED OF HERO
As Cage and Ford languished, the summer was notable for the rise of a new generation of action stars, including Vin Diesel (“XXX”), Matt Damon (“The Bourne Identity”) and Ben Affleck (“The Sum of All Fears”), Pandya said.
Two arthouse films, both released by Fox Entertainment Group Inc.’s Fox Searchlight banner, crept into the lower reaches of the top 10 as their expansions gathered momentum. The Jennifer Aniston black comedy “The Good Girl” jumped four places to No. 9 with $3.6 million in its fourth weekend, while the Robin Williams creepfest “One Hour Photo” surged 14 places in its second weekend to tie at No. 10 with closely held DreamWorks’ “Road to Perdition.” Both reported $3.3 million.
Elsewhere in the arthouse world, the Indian film “Agnivarsha — The Fire and the Rain,” a non-traditional Bollywood epic derived from a Hindu religious story, grossed a modest $21,336 from eight theaters.
Wide new releases next weekend include the teen thriller “Swimfan” — a “Fatal Attraction” for the high-school set — and the Robert De Niro cop drama “City by the Sea.”
Weekend Box Office