Ben Affleck, Susan Sarandon, and Joan of Arc all fall to the power of the pocket monsters

By Josh Wolk
November 15, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Last month it was women calling the shots at the box office, making ”Double Jeopardy” a hit. But now it’s the kids’ turn, if you judge by the outstanding estimated $31 million take this weekend for ”Pokémon: The First Movie.” The animated feature has racked up a $50.8 million total since its debut last Wednesday, easily setting a five-day opening record for November and besting the $45.7 million gross for ”A Bug’s Life” last year. Warner Bros., which planned to release its already completed ”Pokémon” sequel next summer, may bump that opening up a bit while kids still have their parents’ wallets pried open.

Meanwhile, the rest of this weekend’s new films — aimed at an older crowd — performed pokily. ”Dogma” fared the best, opening in third place with a respectable $8.7 million (behind last week’s holdover, ”The Bone Collector,” which took in another handsome $12 million). The per-screen average for ”Dogma” was $6,832, second only to ”Pokémon”’s $10,199, so it’s likely that all the controversy about this religious comedy actually helped it. (Did the religious picketers learn nothing from the Brooklyn Museum protest?)

The other openers could have used a protest — ”The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc” debuted in fourth place with $6.4 million (and a lousy $2,963 per-screen average), while ”Anywhere but Here” landed in fifth with $5.6 million, and a slightly better $3,354 average. The biggest loser was ”Light It Up,” which took in only $2.4 million for 11th place, giving it a lame $3.1 million since its Wednesday opening. Good thing Burger King didn’t opt to give out ”Light It Up” trading cards.

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