Box office receipts are the lowest of the year
The effects of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks were felt at the box office as the movie industry saw its slowest weekend of the year so far. But in what can be seen as a sign of the resilience of the American people, attendance picked up as the weekend progressed, as film fans looked to the multiplexes for a diversion from news coverage of the tragedy.
According to estimates, Keanu Reeves’ feel-good baseball drama ”Hardball” grossed $10.1 million to claim the top box office spot. After a slow Friday — when many Americans were participating in candlelight vigils or watching television reports — ticket receipts picked up considerably on Saturday and Sunday. As a result, ”Hardball”’s opening tally matched those of Reeves’ last three releases, ”Sweet November,” ”The Watcher,” and ”The Replacements,” all of which earned between $9 million and $11 million in their debut weekends. A spokeswoman for Paramount told Reuters that ”Hardball” might have earned from $12-15 mil if not for the news events. (Besides the obvious reasons for the lower gross, there is also the fact that most TV stations aired no commercials between Tuesday and Friday, thus limiting the studio’s marketing efforts.)
The weekend’s other new entry, ”The Glass House,” came in second with $6.1 million. Though presumably this film — a thriller in which teen Leelee Sobieski battles evil guardians — felt the impact of the slow weekend, it performed better than Sobieski’s last starring vehicle, ”Here on Earth,” which premiered last year with only $4.5 million.
Rounding out the top 5 were three returning films. Last week’s chart topper, ”The Musketeer,” dropped to No. 3 with $5.3 million, down 49 percent. Nicole Kidman’s horror thriller ”The Others,” meanwhile, fell only 22 percent to $4.7 million, bringing its total to almost $74 million. And the Vivica A. Fox comedy ”Two Can Play That Game” declined 55 percent to No. 5, earning another $3.5 million.
Next weekend will likely see sluggish ticket sales as well, as the nation continues to focus its attention on the horrendous attacks and their aftermath. Box office receipts will also be affected by the film industry itself, which continues to shuffle release dates: Two of the three movies scheduled to open this Friday, the violent Denzel Washington drama ”Training Day” and the Tim Allen crime comedy ”Big Trouble,” have been bumped by their studios. That leaves the already delayed Mariah Carey musical ”Glitter” as the only big debut.
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