The summer slaughter continued this weekend at the box office, as once again, the top two films combined to earn almost $100 million. Rush Hour 3 was the big new release this weekend, and while it couldn't match the power of Rush Hour 2, it still debuted with power nonetheless. Stardust, the new fantasy from Paramount, debuted with an okay score, and Daddy Day Camp, the most unnecessary sequel of the summer, crashed and burned (thankfully). Holdovers The Bourne Ultimatum and The Simpsons Movie both tried to avoid 50% plus drops; however, both failed to make that grade, with one badly missing, and one coming quite close.
Rush Hour/Bourne Lead Hot Box Office
By John Hamann
August 12, 2007
The number one film of the weekend is Rush Hour 3, as Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker dominated the box office for a third time. Rush Hour 3 earned New Line $50.2 million from 3,778 venues, giving the martial arts comedy a venue average of $13,297. While a good score, in a summer of three-quels, Rush Hour 3 is one of the few to not build on the opening weekend success of the second feature in the series. Rush Hour 2 debuted to $67.4 million one weekend earlier in 2001, and the six-year layoff showed in the weekend estimate this time out. Where three-quels like Spider-Man, Shrek and The Bourne series had films released in the last three years, the Rush Hour layoff was much longer, so the franchise wasn't as fresh for moviegoers. Let's have a closer look at those numbers: Spider-Man 3 earned $151.6 over its first three days, where the second film earned $88.2 million. Shrek the Third earned $121.6 million over opening weekend, with Shrek 2 coming in at $108 million. Finally, The Bourne Ultimatum earned $69.3 million, and The Bourne Supremacy earned $52.5 million. Rush Hour 3 performed more like the Ocean's Eleven franchise, where the third film couldn't match the second (Ocean's Twelve debuted to $39.2 million, and Ocean's Thirteen opened with $36.1 million). While these opening figures are still great, they are a definite sign of waning interest in a franchise.
One of the reasons why Rush Hour 3 didn't live up to Rush Hour 2 status is film quality. There was little buzz for this film, and I believe people showed up this weekend out of habit, instead of via a strong desire to take this one in. Reviews didn't help. Rush Hour 3 turned in an abysmal rating at RottenTomatoes of only 19%, one of the more rotten scores for a blockbuster released this summer. Of the 121 critics polled, only a dismal 28 found something to like with this one. Usually with the Rush Hour franchise, critics are mixed or better, but not in this case. Rush Hour 2 garnered a 50% rating, and the original Rush Hour earned a 57% fresh rating. The shine has definitely come off of this franchise. However, with a production budget in the neighborhood of $120 million (according to IMDb), and a worldwide gross sure to be in the $300 million range worldwide, we may still see a fourth Rush Hour picture, if Jackie Chan is still mobile, and Chris Tucker stays sane.
Our second place film is The Bourne Ultimatum, as Matt Damon and company try to build on the success of last weekend's blowout debut. Three-quels have seen some serious second weekend drops this summer, but with The Bourne Ultimatum's 94% fresh rating, Universal was hoping to see a drop below 50%. In its second weekend, The Bourne Ultimatum earned $33.7 million, giving it a weekend drop of 51% - an excellent score considering the opening weekend was $69.3 million. Often, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. We all know The Simpsons Movie plunged 66% in its second frame after opening to $74 million. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix fell 58% after having a three-day opening of $77 million. Spider-Man 3 dropped 62% in its second frame and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End plunged 61%. Bourne's decent, but not superlative, second weekend drop will be excellent news for Universal, as good things are happening with this release. The Bourne Ultimatum crossed the $100 million mark on Friday, its eighth day of release, and will have no problem reaching $200 million, with $250 million not out of the question. With fewer tentpole releases coming over the remainder of August, Bourne will only have to deal with Rush Hour 3 for franchise dollars. Currently, The Bourne Ultimatum sits with $132.3 million, with a huge amount in foreign totals still to come.
Finishing a somewhat sad third is The Simpsons Movie, as the shine has certainly come off this one – fast. The Simpsons Movie, now in its third weekend, earned $11.1 million, of a wild 56% from its second weekend gross of $25.1 million (don't forget The Simpsons debuted to a thunderous $74 million). The Fox animated feature has now seen drops of 66% and 56%, and is now more of a flavor of the month than legitimate blockbuster. Despite the huge opening, The Simpsons Movie now has little chance of reaching the $200 million mark domestically, but will still end up earning over $400 million worldwide. Currently, its domestic total has reached $152.2 million.
Fourth spot goes to new release Stardust, based on the novel by Neil Gaiman. Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert DeNiro and Clare Danes, Stardust had some take-off issues, and earned a debut gross of $9.0 million. Paramount released Stardust to only 2,540 venues, so were either not confident in Stardust, or are looking to expand it in the weeks to come. Stardust is the type of film that is tough to open – not really aimed at kids, but with a fairy tale setting that may be not right for adults. Reviews were good, but not great. At RottenTomatoes, 115 critics chimed in, and 83 found something to like, leaving Stardust with an okay 72% fresh rating. That may not be enough to stimulate this one past opening weekend, but we will have to wait and see. IMDb lists a budget of $65 million for the Paramount release.
Pulling up in fifth is Underdog, Disney's live action take on the formerly animated Super-Dog. After an $11.6 million opening last weekend, Underdog dropped to $6.5 million this weekend, giving it a drop of 44%. After a so-so opening frame and an only okay second weekend, Underdog isn't going to last long. So far, the Disney feature has earned $24.7 million.
Sixth is Hairspray, a film that has seen little traction since opening four weekends ago. Hairspray earned $6.4 million, and was off a better 31%, as other drops have been 40% plus since opening. Hairspray is still on target for $100 million, with a gross so far of $92.1 million.
Finishing seventh is I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, the Adam Sandler release from Universal. Chuck and Larry got past the $100 million mark this weekend with a gross of $5.9 million, giving it a weekend-to-weekend drop of 44%. Chuck and Larry has now earned $103.8 million – Universal's second $100 million comedy of the summer after Knocked Up.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix falls from fifth last weekend to eighth this weekend. The Warner Bros. Release earned $5.4 million, giving the Potter flick a drop of 43%. It has a gross so far of $272.2 million, and will look to finish with about $290 million.
Ninth goes to No Reservations, as the Catherine Zeta-Jones rom-com manages another weekend in the top ten. No Reservations earned $3.9 million this weekend, and drops 40% from the previous frame. So far, this small film among titans has earned an okay $32.1 million.
Finally in tenth we have the absolutely useless Daddy Day Camp, a sequel to the equally useless but much more lucrative Daddy Day Care. Camp earned $3.6 million, a score that gives me faith in the movie-going public. This one was 2% fresh at RottenTomatoes, and should be seen by no one.
Overall, things were good for the umpteenth time in a row for Summer 2007. Last year, with Talladega Nights on top, the top 12 at the box office recorded a comparatively poor score of about $109.4 million. This year, the top five films earned the same amount as last year's top 12 combined. This year's top 12 came in at $142.0 million, an increase of 30% over the same weekend in 2006. Next weekend, things could be interesting again, as the hilarious looking Superbad hits screens, along with Nicole Kidman's The Invasion, a film that may be hilarious for all the wrong reasons.