Holiday Films Boosted 2000 Box Office

Tom Hanks in Cast Away and Mel Gibson in What Women Want headlined a big final weekend that helped propel Hollywood to another year of record revenues as Americans spent about $7.7 billion going to the movies.

After a disappointing summer in which nothing could rival 1999 megahits Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace and The Sixth Sense, the box office not only rallied at the end of the year, but total ticket sales actually improved from last year.

"We're lucky to have a record, looking at the roller-coaster ride the year 2000 was in terms of box office," Paul Dergarabedian, of Exhibitor Relations, said. "This late-year rally put us over the top. Summer just came sort of late this year."

Traditional wisdom might have pinned summer flicks The Patriot or Me, Myself, & Irene as surefire box-office hits from Mel Gibson and Jim Carrey, yet it was these actors' year-end films, What Women Want and Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (which became the top-earning film of 2000), which pulled in the big numbers.

It was the ninth straight year that revenues climbed, according to Exhibitor Relations.

"I don't think you can expect to have record attendance every year," said Bruce Snyder, head of distribution for 20th Century Fox, which released the hit Cast Away. "But this was still a very, very good year."

The Top 10 films for the four-day New Year's weekend were:

Cast Away, $40 million What Women Want, $26.4 million Miss Congeniality, $19.2 million The Family Man, $16.7 million The Emperor's New Groove, $14.6 million Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, $9 million Vertical Limit, $8.3 million Dracula 2000, $7.3 million Dude, Where's My Car?, $5.8 million All the Pretty Horses, $4.9 million

The Top 20 films of 2000

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, $253.4 million* Mission: Impossible 2, $215.4 million Gladiator, $186.6 million The Perfect Storm, $182.6 million Meet the Parents, $161.3 million* X-Men, $157.3 million Scary Movie, $157 million What Lies Beneath, $155.3 million* Dinosaur, $137.7 million Erin Brockovich, $125.5 million Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, $123.3 million* Charlie's Angels, $122 million* Big Momma's House, $117.6 million What Women Want, $115.8 million* The Patriot, $113.3 million Remember the Titans, $112.9 million* Cast Away, $109.7 million* Chicken Run, $106.8 million Gone in 60 Seconds, $101.6 million Me, Myself, & Irene, $90.6 million

* Films still in release.

Reuters contributed to this story.