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|July 24, 2001||
JP3 lizards feast on BO!
Arthur J Pais
America's major critics stomped the lizards, wondering loud if there was any need to make Jurassic Park III at all, but the ravenous lizards devoured a huge chunk of the box office last week not only in North America but also in United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaysia, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea.
The film had a dinosaur of a weekend in North America with a $ 50 million take. Since its opening, the lizards have feasted on $ 81 million. Abroad, it stampeded the box office for about $ 12 million in just about dozen countries.
Steven Spielberg, the director of the first two films, served as executive producer this time, letting Joe Johnston, whose directing credits include Jumanji, tame the dinosaurs.
Made for about $ 92 million, Jurassic Park is expected to break even in about three weeks. It will face tough competition from Planet Of Apes this Friday. But even if its box office plummets by about 50 per cent in America, it will still earn a formidable box office gross.
While Johnston was concentrating on the lizards, Spielberg was busy making the sci-fi odyssey A I Artificial Intelligence, which has received resoundingly mixed reviews -- with some major publications like The New York Times calling it a masterpiece. A I, made for $ 100 million, is expected to end its American run with a decidedly disappointing $ 75 million.
It has become a huge hit in Japan, having grossed about $ 45 million in four weeks and is expected to psyche at least $ 80 million by the time it ends its first run there. The film hasn't opened elsewhere. But if it does half as well in other major European and Asian countries as it doing in Japan, it could become a profitable venture.
Another film to draw huge audiences despite critical drubbing, America's Sweethearts, is yet another example of Julia Roberts' star power.
It opened with a strong $ 31 million, though many box office observers believe it will nosedive in the second week and end up as an also-ran film. The key problem with the film is that it revolves around a Hollywood press junket and has too many in-jokes that would fly over the heads of who are not familiar with Hollywood or read movie magazines or watch television shows dealing with Hollywood.
Last weekend's champ, the Reese Witherspoon school comedy, Legally Blonde, slipped to No 3 with $ 11.1 million. But with a total of $ 43.4 million and a prediction of $ 70 million gross in North America, the comedy budgeted at $ 18 million has already become profitable for Metro Goldwyn Mayer.
By next week, the focus would be on how the dinosaurs are prevailing. And, more important, how another sci-fi film will open.
Directed by Tim Burton the new Planet Of The Apes offers a very contemporary treatment of a classic released over three decades ago.
Despite the tabloid stories that the film was being edited and mixed beyond the original schedule, Hollywood is expecting huge returns for the $ 100 million film that was shown to the exhibitors across America last Thursday. The film reportedly received standing ovation at many industry screenings.
"The ending has everybody buzzing. It's a great twist," Twentieth Century Fox executive Rick Myerson told reporters this weekend.
Obviously, he is not giving away the twist.
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