Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dinosaur' dominates U.S. box office.

Holiday 2008

Disney's computer-animated "Dinosaur" roared to the top of the nation's box office with an impressive $38.6 million at 3,257 theaters during the Friday-Sunday period, studio sources said Sunday.

Audiences mobbed the nation's megaplexes and malls to take in "Dinosaur," which carries a price tag of at least $130 million and portrays the prehistoric creatures facing extinction as a giant meteor hits Earth. The opening marked the 20th largest debut of all time and the third largest for a Disney film, trailing only "Toy Story 2" at $57.4 million and "The Lion King" at $40.9 million.

"Dinosaur" is a tale of a friendly baby dinosaur named Aladar that is raised by a family of warm-blooded lemurs. Disney benefited from pent-up demand for family films and an extensive marketing campaign highlighting the merging of cutting-edge animation with the studio's usual highly-skilled cast of talking creatures.

"It's a tremendous opening," said industry tracker Arthur Rockwell. "It makes you forget the less-successful Disney animated films like 'Hercules' and 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame.' And the beauty of it is that it's a money-maker in so many different other ways, such as video and merchandising for Disney." "Dinosaur" opened Friday by taking in $11.25 million and then jumped 51 percent to $16.3 million on Saturday, underscoring a strong initial word-of-mouth buzz among customers, and giving hopes to the film's prospects for a final gross of more than $200 million.

Rockwell noted that the film should perform well during the upcoming Memorial Day holiday and then continue to draw significant numbers as schools let out for the summer in June.

Two-time champion "Gladiator" fell to second place with a still-strong $19.1 million at 3,041 theaters as the DreamWorks release lost only 22 percent of its second-weekend audience. "Gladiator" is already the second-highest grossing film of the year after "Erin Brockovich," with $102.4 million, and became the 205th film to cross the $100 million mark.

Rockwell said "Gladiator" will continue to generate strong grosses well into the early summer.

"The performance by the top films shows there is a mind-boggling demand for quality product," he said.

DreamWorks' opening of the raunchy comedy "Road Trip" also posted solid numbers with $15 million at 2,530 sites. "Road Trip," which is generously pockmarked with gross-out jokes, could wind up performing in the neighborhood of last summer's "American Pie," which topped $102 million by the end of its run.

Universal's fifth weekend of "U-571" dove to a distant fourth with $4.6 million at 2,735 theaters, slightly ahead of New Line's fifth weekend of "Frequency" with $4.3 million at 2,202 sites. "U-571" is nearing $65 million after a month in release.

Warner Brothers' second weekend of "Battlefield Earth" followed in a disappointing sixth with $3.8 million at 3,307 theaters as the critically scorned science-fiction epic declined a stunning 67 percent from its opening weekend total. It tied with DreamWorks' limited roll-out of Woody Allen's "Small Time Crooks" at 865 sites as the quirky comedy performed in line with expectations.

Sony's second weekend of "Center Stage" took eighth place with $3.3 million at 1,506 theaters, followed by 20th Century Fox's fourth weekend of "Where the Heart Is" with $2.9 million at 2,155 theaters, and Universal's fourth weekend of "Viva Rock Vegas" with $2.5 million at 2,700 screens.

Universal's second weekend of "Screwed" came in 11th with $1.8 million at 1,760 theaters, followed by Paramount's seventh weekend of "Rules of Engagement" with $1.2 million at 1,062 sites, and Universal's 10th weekend of "Erin Brockovich" with $1.1 million at 947 screens; "Erin" has topped $120 million and ranks 128th overall ahead of "The Mask."

Disney showed sneak screenings of the new Jackie Chan comedy "Shanghai Noon" at 1,230 locations and reported 76 percent capacity with 91 percent of the viewers opining that they would indeed recommend the movie to friends. "Shanghai" opens Friday against Paramount's expected blockbuster, "Mission: Impossible 2."

(c) 2000 UPI All rights reserved.

Copyright 2000 by United Press International.

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Source Citation
"'Dinosaur' dominates U.S. box office." United Press International 22 May 2000: 1008142u4813. Military and Intelligence Database. Web. 26 Dec. 2009. .

Gale Document Number:A62219799

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