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Darwin's Weekend Box Office Report

So does this mean there will be another dino flick?

JURASSIC PARK III opened huge: it made 50.3 million over the three-day weekend and 80.9 million since its opening on Wednesday. Considering how strong the numbers were -- and the opening day had a rush-to-see-it buzz that was completely engendered by the audience -- were likely to see another film. Which isnt such a bad idea. That is, as long as David Koepp writes it and the script is finished before they start shooting. I wouldnt mind another JURASSIC PARK movie because theyve always been good examples of a fun genre: the monster movie. The difference between JURASSIC PARK and ANACONDA is style and know-how. ANACONDA is a B-movie. JURASSIC PARK is a B-plus-movie.

(The one question I have is: Where do screenwriters Jim Taylor and Alexander Payne fit in here? ELECTION was one of the funniest, beautifully mordant comedies in recent memory. Why are they writing about dinosaurs running around?)

PLANET OF THE APES is the next big flick opening and apparently the anticipation is off the charts. Im not totally sure why. Obviously young males are the ones rushing out. Are they excited because of the films ancestry? I doubt many young people know anything about the original PLANET except its shock-finale. Is it Tim Burtons name? Doubt that, too. The only recent Burton movie to make money was SLEEPY HOLLOW. And that movie was DESIGNED to make money. Burton had no personal interest in the film and he made it to have a financial hit under his belt after so long a drought. I think PLANET falls under the same category. As for the bated-breath expectation, Ill chalk it up to young kids thinking they HAVE to see the film; its the you must see this flick film of the year. Lucky APES and Burton.

AMERICAN SWEETHEARTS, another example of Billy Crystals writing pulling together talent and wasting them, opened strong with 30.1 million. This is just another signal of Julia Roberts inhuman ability at the box office. Remember when Roberts was in a funk and putting out utter crap like I LOVE TROUBLE and they couldnt pay people to see her movies? SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT, which was a terrible movie and made zero bucks, was considered a huge step up for her at the time. But now, thanks fully to MY BEST FRIENDS WEDDING (and Ron Bass and P.J. Hogan), Roberts is without a doubt the biggest star in the world -- male or female. You cant point to one film shes put out since WEDDING, good or bad, that people havent lined up for.

SWEETHEARTS was also a big win for Revolution Studios; it is the virginal production companys first solid hit film.

Reese Witherspoon (after Kevin Smiths hilarious story, I cant help but think of her as Greasy Reese Witherspoon, and I doubt it will ever go away) had the top spot last week with her bubble-gum saga LEGALLY BLONDE. The film dropped 46 percent of its take and settled in third with 11 million. I suspect this evanescent, forgettable film will be totally out of our memory by next week.

THE SCORE made 10.7 million in fourth place. This film, which brought together the awesome talents of Brando, De Niro and Edward Norton, was starkly better than the script I read a few years ago. Lem Dobbs (THE LIMEY) and Scott Marshall Smith (who wrote De Niros navy epic MEN OF HONOR) -- along with the stars -- certainly improved it. This film opened nice last week with nineteen million dollars. But with a complete haul of less than forty million, will this seventy-million-dollar film really turn a large profit?

This always seems the case with De Niros action films, like RONIN. Decent opening and then a precipitous fall.

CATS & DOGS (which thankfully clobbered SCARY MOVIE II when it opened) came in fifth and has made about seventy-three million so far.

SCARY MOVIE II, which didnt even make it into the top five, has to be considered a failure after the monster numbers the first film did. Even the so-so twenty-plus-million opening seemed a perfunctory action by teens who thought they had to or should see the film.

You know why SCARY bombed? Because the Wayans brothers were spoofing films that were already spoofs and targeted movies like THE HAUNTING which werent nearly as huge at the box office as their own first film. How can you satirize a film as loopy and aware as CHARLIES ANGELS?

The SCREAM flicks were semi-spoofs, too, but the first SCARY worked on some level because, as Owen Gleiberman of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY pointed out, (it) exposed the horndog roots of teen-horror trash, pushing the envelope of grossness and raunch as a way to lampoon just how far the envelope could be pushed.

Me? Im just waiting for the new releases by guys like Woody Allen, David Lynch and Hal Hartley. Guys who never tried to push the envelope. Just did it naturally through their art.

Ill leave with a quote from the original APES that will probably not appear in its remake:

Its a madhouse! -- a madhouse!

-- Darwin Mayflower

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