'The Watcher' Tops Box Office


Tuesday, September 19th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


LOS ANGELES (AP) — ``The Watcher,'' a thriller about a serial killer, was the top film for the second straight week as the nation's theaters reported their slowest weekend in three years.

The film starring Keanu Reeves, James Spader and Marisa Tomei pulled in just $5.8 million as theaters reported the lowest-grossing weekend since Sept. 12, 1997, said Paul Dergarabedian of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc., a box office tracking firm.

There were 129 films playing in North America over the weekend and their combined box office take was just $54 million.

``We're in a situation where moviegoing hasn't been a top priority of the general public in recent weeks,'' Dergarabedian said Monday.

For the last eight weeks, he suggested, people have been preoccupied with the Olympics, CBS's ``Survivor'' and the presidential elections.

All of it has hurt the bottom line, Dergarabedian said, especially when compared with last year's unusually robust films, including ``The Sixth Sense,'' ``Stigmata'' and ``Blue Streak,'' which kept revenues strong in a typically slow post-summer period.

``There hasn't been a product sparking audience interest to the degree necessary to have a strong box office,'' he said.

The only film that beat the trend is ``Almost Famous,'' which averaged $17,669 on 131 screens in limited release. The film fictionalizes Cameron Crowe's teen-age days writing about rock 'n roll for Rolling Stone magazine.

Studios could see a reversal toward the end of month when ``Almost Famous'' goes into wide release. Also, ``Remember the Titans'' and the re-release of ``The Exorcist'' may bring people back to theaters.

The top 20 movies at North American theaters Friday through Monday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

1. ``The Watcher,'' Universal, $5.8 million, 2,745 locations, $2,115 average, $17.4 million, two weeks.

2. ``Bait,'' Warner Bros., $5.5 million, 2,352 locations, $2,332 average, $5.5 million, one week.

3. ``Bring it On,'' Universal, $5.1 million, 2,427 locations, $2,095 average, $51 million, four weeks.

4. ``Nurse Betty,'' USA, $4.7 million, 1,469 locations, $3,171 average, $13.6 million, two weeks.

5. ``Space Cowboys,'' Warner Bros., $2.5 million, 2,461 locations, $1,022 average, $82.2 million, seven weeks.

6. ``The Cell,'' New Line, $2.4 million, 2,250 locations, $1,088 average, $55 million, five weeks.

7. ``What Lies Beneath,'' DreamWorks, $2.4 million, 2,007 locations, $1,199 average, $145.6 million, nine weeks.

8. ``Almost Famous,'' DreamWorks, $2.31 million, 131 locations, $17,669 average, $2.38 million, one week.

9. ``Scary Movie,'' Dimension, $2 million, 1,997 locations, $1,021 average, $151.8 million, 11 weeks.

10. ``Duets,'' Buena Vista, $2 million, 581 locations, $3,447 average, $2 million, one week.

11. ``The Art of War,'' Warner Bros., $1.6 million, 1,705 locations, $911 average, $27.4 million, four weeks.

12. ``The Original Kings of Comedy,'' Paramount, $1.5 million, 1,040 locations, $1,478 average, $34 million, five weeks.

13. ``The Replacements,'' Warner Bros., $1.4 million, 1,713 locations, $808 average, $41 million, six weeks.

14. ``Nutty Professor II: The Klumps,'' Universal, $1.2 million, 1,402 locations, $870 average, $118.5 million, eight weeks.

15. ``The Way of the Gun,'' Artisan, $1.2 million, 1,565 locations, $778 average, $4.3 million, two weeks.

16. ``Highlander: Endgame,'' Miramax, $1.1 million, 1,546 locations, $714 average, $10.8 million, three weeks.

17. ``Coyote Ugly,'' Disney, $1 million, 1,104 locations, $909 average, $56.7 million, seven weeks.

18. ``Autumn in New York,'' MGM, $945,789, 1,572 locations, $602 average, $35.4 million, six weeks.

19. ``Saving Grace,'' Fine Line, $896,914, 874 locations, $1,026 average, $9.7 million, seven weeks.

20. ``The Crew,'' Disney, $670,811, 1,188 locations, $565 average, $11.9 million, four weeks.