For the third time in four years, the Fresh Prince lorded over Independence Day as his effects-heavy, plot-lite Wild Wild West defied critics and lassoed the top slot at the holiday weekend box office.
The train wreck of a film (loosely based on the '60s TV show) earned an estimated $36.8 million between Friday and Monday, according to the stub counters at Exhibitor Relations, and $50.1 mil since its Wednesday unspooling.
While Wild Wild West easily outgrossed last week's champ, Big Daddy, and two controversial new releases, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut and Spike Lee's Summer of Sam, the flick couldn't keep pace with Smith's previous summer smashes, 1997's Men in Black and 1996's Independence Day, which earned, respectively, $51 million and $50 million in only three-day weekends. In the words of Exhibitor Relations President Paul Dergarabedian, "This is not a runaway blockbuster."
Meanwhile, Adam Sandler's Big Daddy continued to score big box office, hauling in $26.4 million in its second week for a second place finish.
In the 'toon battle, Disney's do-gooding Tarzan beat back the cussing kids of South Park, $19.2 million to $14.8 million. Hollywood pundits suggest the new animated film's bottom line might have been affected by tighter ID checks at theaters that kept the show's core teen audience away from Cartman and crew's R-rated celluloid antics.
The holiday's other notable debut, Lee's Summer of Sam, which seeks to evoke New York looniness circa 1977, fizzled at No. 8 on the charts, registering a scant $7.8 million. (Perhaps would-be filmgoers heeded the thumbs-down rating of serial killer-turned-film critic David Berkowitz, aka the Son of Sam, and stayed away.)
In other box-office news, The Phantom Menace powered by an $11.7 million weekend, zoomed to No. 4 on the all-time list, passing Jurassic Park. The prequel's total stands at about $372 million.
Here's how the weekend shaped up, according to Exhibitor Relations.
1. Wild Wild West, $36.8 million
2. Big Daddy, $26.4 million
3. Tarzan, $19.2 million
4. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, $14.8 million
5. The General's Daughter, $14.6 million
6. The Phantom Menace, $11.7 million
7. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, $10.8 million
8. Summer of Sam, $7.8 million
9. Notting Hill, $5.1 million
10. An Ideal Husband, $3.4 million