Adam Sandler's critic-proof goof on college football earned an astounding $39.1 million--the biggest November opening ever; the biggest live-action opening for Disney's Buena Vista ever; and, the biggest opening for Sandler ever.
The previous record-holder for a November debut was Jim Carrey's 1995 comedy, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, which earned $37.8 million.
The Waterboy is the second hit this year for the ex-Saturday Night Live comic, following his $80.2 million Wedding Singer wonder.
Trailing The Waterboy by a long margin this weekend was The Siege, the terrorist thriller besieged by protests from the Muslim and Arab-American communities. Despite the star power combo of Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis, the Fox release earned only an estimated $14.7 million.
The restored, rereleased version of The Wizard of Oz was a strong peformer, pulling in $5.5 million. The historical drama Elizabeth was a hit on the art-house circuit, earning $279,000 on just nine screens.
There was little nostalgia for baby-boomer opus The Big Chill. A rerelease of the 1983 comedy/drama drummed up just $65,000 at 50-ish venues, for a paltry per-screen average of $1,300.
Here's the complete list of the weekend's Top 10, according to estimates from Exhibitor Relations Inc.:
1. The Waterboy, $39.1 million
2. The Siege, $14.7 million
3. Pleasantville, $6 million
4. The Wizard of Oz, $5.5 million
5. Antz, $5.4 million
6. Living Out Loud, $4.5 million
7. Practical Magic, $4.3 million
8. John Carpenter's Vampires, $4 million
9. Belly, $3.7 million
10. Rush Hour, $3.5 million