Universal enjoyed a much-needed box office boost - the first since news of its takeover by Vivendi - over the weekend with the opening of Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, one of the summer's more predictable hits. With an estimated $42.7m grossed from Friday to Sunday on 3,243 screens, the film beat the $25.4m achieved by the first Nutty Professor, itself a remake of the 1963 Jerry Lewis classic, in 1996.
The figure represents the biggest opening ever for its star Eddie Murphy who plays the titular character as well as his entire family and evil altar ego Buddy Love. His previous highest opening was Beverly Hills Cop which took $33m in 1984. The Klumps received poor reviews from America's critics but this is clearly one instance of a review-proof picture. If the estimated figure stands, the opening is the third highest of the year after Mission: Impossible 2 and X-Men. Scary Movie opened on $42.3m earlier in July. Final figures are available on Monday.
The week's other wide opener Thomas The Tank Engine tanked. On 2,106 screens, the family film from Destination Films took a shabby $4.2m for a screen average of just under $2,000. Since its opening on Wednesday, the film has taken $6.6m, a disappointment for independent Destination which had high hopes for this their fourth release.
Meanwhile DreamWorks SKG's What Lies Beneath held up well in its second weekend, taking $22m for a drop of just 26% from last weekend. The Harrison Ford/Michelle Pfeiffer thriller looks set to become the second picture from DreamWorks to cross the $100m barrier this summer after Gladiator. Its ten-day total is $68.5m.
Also this weekend The Patriot crossed the $100m barrier becoming the ninth film this year to do so after Erin Brockovich, Gladiator, Dinosaur, Mission: Impossible 2, Big Momma's House, The Perfect Storm, Scary Movie and X-Men.
However, despite the massive Klumps opening, box office was down some 15% from the same weekend a year ago, again casting doubt on whether this summer will be able to beat last year's record and proving that admissions are at a standstill or even on their way down. Nevertheless, the season rolls on and next weekend sees three big newcomers - Columbia's Hollow Man, Warner Bros' Space Cowboys and Buena Vista's Coyote Ugly.
ESTIMATED TOP TEN US JULY 21-23
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date
1 (-) Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (Universal) UIP $42.7m --
2 (1) What Lies Beneath (DreamWorks SKG) 20th Century Fox $22m $68.5m
3 (2) X-Men (20th Century Fox) 20th Century Fox $11.5m $121.8m
4 (4) Scary Movie (Miramax) Miramax International $8.1m $131.9m
5 (5) The Perfect Storm (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $7m $157.6m
6 (3) Pokemon The Movie 2000 (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $6.3m $33.1m
7 (6) Disney's The Kid (Buena Vista) BVI $5.1m $52m
8 (7) The Patriot (Columbia) Columbia TriStar $4.6m $101.4m
9 (-) Thomas And The Magic Railroad (Destination) Kathy Morgan International $4.2m
10 (9) Chicken Run (DreamWorks SKG) UIP/Pathe $3.4m $92.9m