Hollywood Enjoys Biggest Weekend Ever

Tuesday, May 28th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ ``Star Wars,'' ``Spider-Man'' and a rush of newcomers lifted Hollywood to a record Memorial Day weekend, with overall revenues expected to top $200 million for the first time.

The top 12 films alone grossed $193.5 million from Friday through Monday, surpassing the record of $186.1 million for all films set last year. Once final numbers are in for all movies later this week, the overall box office should come in at about $202 million, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

``Star Wars: Episode II _ Attack of the Clones'' remained the No. 1 movie with $61.2 million over the four-day weekend, putting its domestic total at $202.5 million in 12 days, according to studio estimates Monday.

It hit $200 million one day faster than its predecessor, ``Episode I _ The Phantom Menace'' in 1999. That film had held the record for quickest film to reach the $200 million mark until ``Spider-Man'' did it in nine days this month.

``Spider-Man'' remained in second place with $36.5 million, pushing its total to $334.3 million in 25 days.

Debuting at No. 3 with $26.2 million was ``Insomnia,'' starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank in a murder thriller set in Alaska. One of the best-reviewed movies so far this year, ``Insomnia'' was directed by Christopher Nolan, who directed ``Memento.''

The animated movie ``Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron'' opened in fourth place with $23 million. Premiering at No. 5 with $17.5 million was Jennifer Lopez's thriller ``Enough,'' about a woman fighting back against her abusive husband.

It was as diverse a weekend as moviegoers could ask for, with action blockbusters balanced by smart adult films and family fare. Each of the main movie ratings were represented in the top four _ ``Attack of the Clones'' with a PG rating, ``Spider-Man'' with a PG-13, ``Insomnia'' with an R and ``Spirit'' with a G.

``It's like a magazine rack, there's so much to choose from,'' Dergarabedian said.

``Spider-Man'' crossed $300 million in 22 days, beating the old record of 28 days set by ``The Phantom Menace.'' ``Spider-Man'' passed ``Forrest Gump'' to become No. 6 on the all-time box-office chart and is closing in on No. 5, ``Jurassic Park,'' which grossed $357.1 million.

``The top five is in our sights,'' said Jeff Blake, head of distribution and marketing for ``Spider-Man'' distributor Sony. ``We're not quite sure where it will end after that.''

While ``Attack of the Clones'' made it to $200 million faster than ``The Phantom Menace,'' the latter film had a better second weekend, its revenues falling just 21 percent. Business for ``Attack of the Clones'' was off 41 percent in its second weekend, a decline distributor 20th Century Fox attributed to stronger competition this time out.

``Three years ago, we were pretty much alone. Now we're dealing with `Spider-Man' and a lot of other big movies out there with it,'' said Bruce Snyder, the studio's head of distribution.

Snyder said he did not think the steeper second weekend drop for ``Attack of the Clones'' has any bearing on the film's long-term prospects compared with ``The Phantom Menace,'' which grossed $431 million domestically.

``I think we're right on target,'' Snyder said. ``I'll know better after next weekend.''

In limited release, a new adaptation of Oscar Wilde's ``The Importance of Being Earnest'' opened solidly with $470,000 in 38 theaters. Directed by Oliver Parker (``An Ideal Husband''), the film stars Rupert Everett, Reese Witherspoon, Frances O'Connor, Colin Firth and Judi Dench.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Monday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Tuesday.

1. ``Star Wars: Episode II _ Attack of the Clones,'' $61.2 million.

2. ``Spider-Man,'' $36.5 million.

3. ``Insomnia,'' $26.2 million.

4. ``Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,'' $23 million.

5. ``Enough,'' $17.5 million.

6. ``About a Boy,'' $10 million.

7. ``Unfaithful,'' $7.7 million.

8. ``The New Guy,'' $5.5 million. 9. ``Changing Lanes,'' $2 million.

10. ``The Scorpion King,'' $1.9 million.