Date: 12th February 2001
MGM's Hannibal feasted off the biggest opening box office for an R-rated movie ever, grossing $58 million, according to studio estimates. If the figures stand, the film will edge out last year's Mission: Impossible II ($57.9 million) as the third-biggest debut ever, behind only 1997's The Lost World: Jurassic Park ($72 million) and 1999's Star Wars: Episode One: The Phantom Menace ($64.8 million).
The take was especially impressive given the movie's February release. The previous February record was held by last year's Scream 3, which earned $34.7 million. (In fact, the film earned more money than any film ever released during a non-summer month.) In an interview with today's (Monday) New York Times, Exhibitor Relations chief Paul Dergarabedian remarked, "It just goes to show that you can have a record-breaking opening any time of the year."
Expectations are also high for the film to devour the box office next weekend -- President's Day weekend. Meeting with reporters at the Berlin Film Festival, Dino de Laurentiis, the producer of Hannibal, said that he had spoken to director Ridley Scott and that the two had decided to proceed with a third Hannibal movie within the next year that would not be based on a book by novelist Thomas Harris. Previously there had been speculation that De Laurentiis would produce a new version of Harris' Red Dragon, originally presented on the screen as Manhunter in 1986 featuring Brian Cox as Lecter. De Laurentiis said Sunday that Anthony Hopkins had asked to appear in the sequel.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations: 1. Hannibal, $58 million; 2. The Wedding Planner, $7.8 million; 3. Saving Silverman, $7.4 million; 4. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, $5.1 million; 5. Cast Away, $5 million; 6. Save the Last Dance, $4.8 million; 7. Traffic, $4.4 million; 8. Valentine, $3.8 million; 9. Chocolat, $3.1 million; 10. O Brother, Where Art Thou?, $3 million.
Source: Studio Briefing