Tom Cruise proved once again why he is one of the world's biggest box office stars as his R-rated love story-cum-sci-fi fantasy Vanilla Sky opened over the weekend with $25m from 2,742 sites.
The Paramount Pictures release, one of the rare pictures for which Paramount has worldwide distribution, had been tracking poorly and had mixed reviews. Members of the public, apparently, were baffled by the film and didn't know what it was about - a problem since much of the film's plot can only be deciphered in the last ten minutes of the film.
Directed by Cameron Crowe, Vanilla Sky stars Cruise as a publishing magnate living the high life in New York City who is disfigured in a car accident caused by an unbalanced one night stand (Cameron Diaz). In the meantime, he has fallen in love with a Spanish student (Penelope Cruz. It is a faithful remake of Alejanro Amenabar's 1997 Spanish film Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes) which starred Cruz in the same role opposite Eduardo Noriega.
The strong cast also includes Kurt Russell, Jason Lee, Timothy Spall and Tilda Swinton.
Despite a strong screen average of $9,117, Vanilla Sky failed to lift the box office over the same weekend last year when Mel Gibson-starrer What Women Want opened at the top. The weekend was 9% down from 2001, although it looks like it will strengthen on Wednesday when New Line's The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring hits North American theatres.
Dropping to number two but with a still impressive $23.1m was Warner Bros' Ocean's Eleven, while Warner's Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone took $9.9m to cross the $250m barrier. The only other wide opener between Ocean's Eleven and Harry Potter was Not Another Teen Movie, a teen movie spoof from Columbia Pictures which took in an OK $13.1m.
Opening on just five screens was Buena Vista's comedy The Royal Tenenbaums directed by Wes Anderson which world premiered at the New York Film Festival this year. Starring Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Owen & Luke Wilson, Danny Glover and Bill Murray, the all-star movie took in over $0.25m for a huge screen average of $50,813. It will widen across the continent over the next three weeks.
Over the weekend, the year's box office went into unchartered territory, overtaking last year's record $7.7bn. Boosted by Lord Of The Rings, a new record of over $8bn is probably forthcoming. In addition to the New Line epic, next weekend sees wide openings for Paramount's kids movie Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Fox's comedy Joe Somebody starring Tim Allen, Universal's African American comedy How High starring Method Man, Miramax's romantic comedy Kate & Leopold with Meg Ryan and Warner Bros' The Majestic with Jim Carrey.
ESTIMATED TOP TEN US DEC 14-16
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date
1 (-) Vanilla Sky (Paramount) UIP $25m --
2 (1) Ocean's Eleven (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $23.1m $73.3m
3 (-) Not Another Teen Movie (Columbia) Columbia TriStar $13.1m --
4 (2) Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $9.9m $253.3m
5 (3) Behind Enemy Lines (20th Century Fox) Fox International $5.5m $38.9m
6 (4) Monsters Inc (Buena Vista) BVI $5m $218.9m
7 (5) Spy Game (Universal) Beacon Pictures $2.4m $57.7m
8 (6) Black Knight (20th Century Fox) Fox International $2m $29.7m
9 (7) Shallow Hal (20th Century Fox) Fox International $1.4m $66.9m
10 (9) Amelie (Miramax) UGC International $0.75m $12.5m