Another Steven Spielberg movie, another top-grossing blockbuster: Ho-hum.
The man responsible for such landmark hits as Jaws, E.T., and Raiders of the Lost Ark hasn't had a movie in theaters since 1998's Saving Private Ryan, but if the weekend box-office estimates are any kind of yardstick, moviegoers haven't forgotten his name quite yet. Studio figures released earlier today have Spielberg's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence on track to rack up slightly more than $30 million, placing it a cool $10 million ahead of its nearest competitor.
The sci-fi drama about a robotic lad's quest to become a real boy, a project Spielberg wrote and directed after developing its story for several years with the late Stanley Kubrick, debuted in 3,242 venues and claimed approximately $9,300 per site. The numbers aren't staggering, but they stack up reasonably well alongside the debut of Ryan — the World War II drama took in $30.5 million on 779 fewer screens — which posted an eventual gross of $216 million.
Playing second fiddle to A.I.'s Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law were Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, stars of The Fast and the Furious. After blowing the doors off of theaters nationwide with a shockingly strong $40 million opening, Furious saw its earnings cut in half, finishing weekend two with estimated Friday-Sunday ticket sales of $20 million. That falls right in line with the summer-long trend of huge openings followed by sharp second-weekend declines.
The third place finisher, Eddie Murphy's Dr. Dolittle 2, bucked the trend by following up its $25 million debut with a second-weekend haul of approximately $15.4 million, dropping just 38 percent. But Paramount's Tomb Raider, despite passing the $100 million mark, continued to sink like a stone, dropping another 50 percent one weekend after falling 58 percent from its record-setting $47.7 million opening. With just $9.8 million this weekend, Raider's fast fade almost certainly has Paramount casting hopeful eyes on Robert De Niro's The Score.
Baby Boy Thrives, crazy/beautiful and Pootie Tang DOA Three other films opened nationally, but only one of them appears likely to still be in first-run theaters by mid-month. Sony's Baby Boy, John Singleton's revisiting of the territory he explored 10 years ago in Boyz N the Hood, opened in 1,533 theaters and logged an estimated $8.6 million over the weekend. The drama opened two days ahead of the rest of the week's new releases and grossed just over $3 million on Wednesday and Thursday, placing its total take to date in the neighborhood of $11.7 million.
Boy's numbers were good enough for a fifth-place finish, edging it ahead of holdovers Atlantis: The Lost Empire ($7.8 million; $58 million cumulative) and Shrek ($7.1 million; $227 million cumulative). crazy/beautiful, Buena Vista's bid to get a slice of the $90 million action drummed up by Paramount's similarly interracial Save the Last Dance earlier this year, demonstrated yet again that teen romance only sells tickets in January and Kirsten Dunst only sells tickets in a short skirt and pom-poms. Despite surprisingly positive reviews from many national critics, crazy limped to a No. 8 finish with an estimated $4.5 million take.
But by far the worst showing of the week was the rotten egg laid by Pootie Tang. Notwithstanding its catchy title and ultra-hip vibe, the superhero comedy landed at No. 12 with first-weekend earnings of just $1.5 million. Those would be excellent numbers if it had played in 50 venues; alas, the irreverent satire opened in 712 theaters — and will probably still be playing in fewer than 350 by this time next week.
The Top 10 films for June 29-July1, 2001: A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, $30.1 million The Fast and the Furious, $20.2 million Dr. Dolittle 2, $15.4 million Tomb Raider, $9.8 million Baby Boy, $8.6 million Atlantis: The Lost Empire, $7.8 million Shrek, $7.1 million crazy/beautiful, $4.5 million Pearl Harbor, $4.4 million Swordfish, $4 million
Final figures will be released Monday.