It's good to be bad--and noisy, violent and trash talking.
As expected Bad Boys II, the buddy-cop action comedy reteaming Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, blasted into first place at the weekend box office with $46.5 million, according to final studio figures released Monday.
It's also good to be Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of this week's number one and last week's sword-swinging number one, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The arrival of trigger-happy Smith and Lawrence as the drug-busting policemen may have dunked Johnny Depp's derring-do pirate crew down to second place with $34 million, but that 27 percent drop was comparatively slight compared to the steep decline of other recent top slot holders. The high-seas adventure has pillaged $133 million in two weeks of release and already spawned plans for a sequel.
Although a hit at home in Britain, Johnny English, a secret-agent spoof starring comedian Rowan Atkinson (best known as the hopeless oddity Mr. Bean), registered here as little more than a hill of beans. In fifth place, the PG Universal release opened with just $9.1 million.
Nearly folding on arrival was How to Deal, a teen romance angst tale starring Mandy Moore. The PG-13 New Line release landed in eight place with just $5.8 million.
In the battle of the per-screen averages, Sony's R-rated BBII averaged $14,608 at 3,186 sites. With audiences apparently disagreeing with the critics--who didn't find the sequel's overload of harsh violence funny--studio bean counters estimate that by the end of its first week, BBII should surpass the $65.8 million total gross taken in by the original Bad Boys released in 1995. (The original's opening weekend take was $15.5 million.)
"It's anything but a mean-spirited picture. Clearly, the public is having a lot of fun with it. It is over-the-top action, but it's got so many laughs," Sony Pictures executive Jeff Blake commented to the Associated Press.
Sailing on in second place, Disney's PG-13 Pirates adventure averaged $10,132 in 3,359 sites, 90 more than it had opened in. But in third place, Fox's PG-13 fantasy adventure The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, remaining in 3,002 sites, could only average $3,384. The drop-off from its opening week was an extraordinarily bad 56 percent to $10.2 million, a depressing statistic for this expensive production headlined by Sean Connery.
Aping the antics of the sort of British spy Connery once played to perfection, Atkinson's comedy actually had a better per-screen average, $4,085 at 2,236 sites. How to Deal, however, could only manage $2,505 at 2,319 sites.
Playing at just five theaters, Miramax's Dirty Pretty Things, a thriller about the illegal immigrant underworld in England directed by Stephen Frears, easily tallied the best per-screen average of the weekend--$20,102. The film totaled $100,512 and hopes for even prettier numbers next weekend when it expands beyond just New York and Los Angeles.
Also in limited release Garage Days, the R-rated Fox Searchlight release about a bunch of Aussie rockers trying to make music, love and fame, could only manage $896 per screen at 23 sites for $20,600.
Meanwhile, Finding Nemo continued to find an audience. The Disney-Pixar fish 'toon has swum to an impressive $303.8 million in eight weeks of release, aided by the $7.3 million earned this weekend in sixth place. The G-rated hit only dropped 14 percent from the previous week despite being in 163 fewer sites.
Bad news continued for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, fast going the way of other summer extravaganzas. It dropped a slot to fourth place, a fall of 52 percent, earning only $9.3 million, from a $2,740 average at 100 fewer sites than last week. Arnold Schwarzenegger's expensive comeback seems to have stalled, only grossing $127.9 million in three weeks. However, suffering a worse fate is The Hulk, which after five weeks has fallen out of the top 10 while only reaching an overall gross of $128 million.
Overall--mainly because of Bruckheimer's two flicks--the top 12 movies grossed $138 million, which means business was up just a smidgen more than 1 percent from last weekend and 34 percent from this time last year.
Here's a rundown of the top 10 films, as compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Bad Boys II, $46.5 million
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, $34 million
3. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, $10.2 million
4. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, $9.3 million
5. Johnny English, $9.1 million
6. Finding Nemo, $7.3 million
7. Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, $6.1 million
8. How to Deal, $5.8 million
9. Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, $3.8 million
10. 28 Days Later, $2.5 million
(Originally published July 20, 2003 at 2:30 p.m. PT.)