Date: 18th September 2000

Movie Lose Out To The Olympics

Analysts blamed the Olympics for a 45-percent drop in theater ticket sales over the weekend from a year ago, with the top movie, Universal's The Watcher, earning only an estimated $5.7 million and the top 12 films together pulling in only $38.1 million.

In second place was the opening of the action-comedy Bait, which garnered just $5.5 million. Veteran entertainment analyst Art Rockwell told Bloomberg News Sunday that September is likely to be a "red-ink month" for theater owners and "the worst third quarter in recent memory."

No film has opened with as little as $5.7 million since the weekend of the January 1997 Super Bowl, when ticket prices were notably below what they are today. Other analysts blamed a dearth in quality product for the slowdown. "This is now the eighth down weekend in a row versus the same weekend last year," Exhibitor Relations chief Paul Dergarabedian told the Associated Press. "This is a time (of year) when people are doing other things. Without a momentum keeping people's interest in moviegoing, you're going to have this slowdown."

The well-reviewed Almost Famous defied the downward trend. Opening on just 131 screens, the movie earned $2.3 million -- a sensational per-screen average of $17,557. Suggesting that word of mouth about the film could produce big figures for it when it opens wider, the film saw a 46-percent increase in business on Saturday from Friday. The studio intends to add about 600 theaters next Friday and another 800-1000 more on Sept. 29.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

1. The Watcher, $5.7 million; 2. Bait, $5.5 million; 3. Bring It On, $5.1 million; 4. Nurse Betty, $4.7 million; 5. What Lies Beneath, $2.6 million; 6. Space Cowboys, $2.5 million; 7. The Cell, $2.45 million; 8. Almost Famous, $2.3 million; 9. Duets, $2 million; 9. Scary Movie, $2 million.

Source: Studio Briefing



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