It was a disappointing weekend at the North American box office, falling some 17% from the same weekend last year. This first drop of the year comes just days after a keynote speech by MPAA president Jack Valenti at ShoWest in which he made much of the dramatic rise in admissions during the first eight weeks of 2001 compared with January and February the year before.
DreamWorks' crime comedy The Mexican starring Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts still led the field but fell 40% to take $12.13m; and New Line's police thriller 15 Minutes teaming Robert De Niro and Ed Burns as a cop and a fireman respectively on the trail of vicious serial killers in New York, opened below expectations to $10.48m on 2,337 theatres.
Meanwhile Miramax's teen comedy Get Over It starring Colin Hanks (son of Tom) and Kirsten Dunst and directed by Tommy O'Haver (Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss) took an unspectacular $4.4m in its opening weekend.
Even limited openers failed to stir up much interest. Miramax's Blow Dry starring Natasha Richardson, Rachael Leigh Cook, Josh Hartnett and Alan Rickman took just $0.25m in 157 theatres, Paramount Classics' long-delayed Company Man directed by Peter Askin and Doug McGrath took $0.078m in 103 theatres and Shooting Gallery's When Brendan Met Trudy grossed just $0.038m in 14 theatres.
Three Oscar contenders, however, continued to show legs. Sony Pictures Classics' Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon inched closer to $100m with $4.3m, USA Films' Traffic took $3.9m and should cross that mark next week, while Miramax Films' Chocolat passed the $50m mark this weekend with $3.8m.
ESTIMATED TOP TEN US MARCH 9-11
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date
1 (1) The Mexican (DreamWorks) DreamWorks/Newmarket $12.1m $38.3m
2 (-) 15 Minutes (New Line) New Line International $10.5m --
3 (3) See Spot Run (Warner Bros) Warner/Village Roadshow $6.6m $17.9m
4 (2) Hannibal (MGM) Universal/UIP $5.7m $151m
5 (4) Down To Earth (Paramount) UIP $5.5m $51m
6 (-) Get Over It (Miramax) Miramax International $4.4m --
7 (5) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Sony Classics) Good Machine International $4.3m $94.6m
8 (6) Traffic (USA Films) IEG $3.9m $97.5m
9 (7) Chocolat (Miramax) Miramax International $3.8m $51m
10 (8) Recess: School's Out (Buena Vista) BVI $2.2m $30.5m