With few family films this summer, the adventures of the Cortez family got off to a real good start, reports The Early Show contributor and People magazine senior editor Jess Cagle.
"Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over" came in first at the box office ith $32.5 million. It was a close race for second place with "Pirates of the Caribbean" earning $22.4 million and "Bad Boys II" taking in $22 million.
Two other new movies - the Angelina Jolie adventure sequel "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life" and the true-life racehorse drama "Seabiscuit - finished just out of the top three earning over $21 million apiece.
Weekend earnings estimates on Sunday placed all the films within $900,000 of each other. "There are four films here that could literally change places on Monday when we get the final figures," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
Although No. 2 remained almost too close to call, the prospective victor was "Pirates of the Caribbean," which estimates showed earning $22.4 million, followed by "Bad Boys II" with $22 million.
The "Tomb Raider" sequel ranked fourth with $21.8 million, less than half what the original film earned in its opening weekend when it debuted in June 2001 with $47.7 million.
Cagle reports, Paramount knew this movie was not going to make a lot of money before it opened. Dergarabedian characterized the second "Tomb Raider" performance as further evidence of the unreliability of sequels this summer, comparing it to failed expectations for "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle."
"Seabiscuit" came in fifth this weekend, with $21.5 million, although Universal Pictures argued that the movie was running in a different race, since it showed on at least 1,200 fewer locations than each of its rivals.
Cagle says it is a good move. "If you open on 1,000 fewer screens than everybody else out there, you don't have to be No.1. You're left with a respectable showing and really good word of mouth and great reviews."
Nikki Rocco, Universal's head of distribution, characterized this weekend as a warm-up run for the movie, which will expand to more theaters next weekend. "This was to get the word of mouth to really sell the film," she said. "This picture is in for the long distance."
"Seabiscuit" was shown at about 1,989 sites, compared to "Spy Kids 3-D" at 3,344. The horse tale had the highest earnings per theater with $10,809 - compared to "Spy Kids 3-D," which had $9,719 and the other second-place competitors, which climbed no higher than $6,900.
Though Cagle says it does not have the intellectual plot to make it a big Oscar contender, he noted it is a film people are going to talk about it. "It really pulls at the heart strings. I cried shamelessly during this movie," he says.
"'Seabiscuit' was filling theaters," Dergarabedian said. "It was not in as many theaters as the others, but it filled more seats in those theaters."
"Spy Kids 3-D" nearly doubled the debut earnings of last summer's "Spy Kids 2." The film attracted a broader teenage audience with its paper blue-and-red tinted glasses, which made some images appear to pop off the screen, said Bob Weinstein, co-founder of Miramax Films, whose Dimension banner released the movie.
"Whatever they paid for those paper glasses was worth it," Dergarabedian said.
The top 12 movies earned $145.6 million, up about 10 percent from the same weekend last year, when "Austin Powers in Goldmember" was the top movie with $73 million. Weekend revenues this summer generally have trailed last year's.
The following are the numbers according to Hollywood.com:
- "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over," $32.5 million
- "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,"
- "Bad Boys II," $22 million.
- "Lara Croft: Tomb raider - The Cradle of Life," $21.8
- "Seabiscuit," $21.5 million.
- "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," $5 million
- "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," $4.9 million.
- "Johnny English," $4.3 million.
- "Finding Nemo," $4 million.
- "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde," $2.7 million.