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Movie Ticket Sales Take A Dive

Movie ticket sales plunged over the weekend, and analysts blamed a dearth of new films, the telethon that kept many viewers home Friday night — as well as continued jitters over the recent terrorist attacks.

“Hardball” remained the nation's No. 1 movie for the second straight week. The Little League drama starring Keanu Reeves took in $8.2 million in its second weekend of release for a total of $19.4 million, according to

Overall, estimated weekend ticket sales for the top dozen films was $44.2 million, a 15 percent drop from last weekend and about 7 percent lower than the same weekend a year ago. It was the worst weekend for studios since Sept. 15, 2000.

“It's disappointing,” said Bruce Snyder, president of domestic distribution for 20th Century Fox, said of the opening. “With the climate in this country, I don't think I know quite what's going on.”

Last weekend, the first weekend after the attacks, business was very strong: returns were about 42 percent higher at than the same time last year, $54.1 million compared to $37.8 million.

However, there were a slate of new movies opening last week. This week, Mariah Carey's “Glitter,” which stars the singing superstar as a pop diva on the rise, was the only new movie to open in wide release. It was panned by critics and made a paltry $2.5 million, failing to register in the Top 10.

Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, said jitters from the recent terrorist attacks, the lack of new movies and the Friday night celebrity television telethon kept movie audiences away. Nearly 60 million Americans watched the telethon benefitting victims of the attacks.

“There were more stars in that than in any film in the marketplace,” Dergarabedian said.

Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on New York and Washington, several studios decided to pull films from this weekend's release schedule. Two movies that had loomed as strong box office contenders were suddenly seen as having inappropriate content--Warner Bros.' police corruption drama Training Day, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke; and Buena Vista/Touchstone's comedy Big Trouble, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and starring Tim Allen and Rene Russo.

“The Others,” a supernatural thriller starring Nicole Kidman, was the No. 2 movie with $5.2 million. The movie, in its seventh week of release, climbed the charts from the No. 5 spot last week. The movie, which cost just $17 million to make, has taken in $80.2 million and was the only movie in the top 10 whose receipts rose over the weekend.

“This is obviously an indication it is a word-of-mouth favorite,” said David Kaminow, senior vice president of marketing for Miramax.

“Rush Hour 2,” starring Jackie Chan, was in its eighth week on the Top 10 list and has amassed nearly $216 million.

Among other openers, “Megiddo: The mega Code 2” was the No. 13 movie, making $1.5 million. The biblical thriller topped all films with average of $4,800 in sales for each of its 314 screens.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations. Final figures are to be released Monday.

The top ten an dtehir estimated grosses , according to are:

  • Hardball,” $8.2 million
  • “The Others,” $5.2 million
  • “The Glass House,” $4.4 million
  • “Rush Hour 2,” $3.65 million
  • “The Musketeer,” $3.51 million
  • “Two Can Play that Game,” $3.2 million
  • (tie) “Rock Star,” $3.2 million
  • “Rat Race,” $3 million
  • “Jeepers Creepers,” $2.79 million
  • “American Pie 2,” $2.65 million

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