Three more openers hit the summer race track this weekend, all to varying degrees of success, but not the success that pre-opening audience tracking was indicating. The stars were out this weekend with Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones in The Terminal, Ben Stiller in Dodgeball and Jackie Chan in Around the World in 80 Days. Heading into the weekend, we knew that Chan’s 80 Days had flopped, leaving a lot of room for the other two high-profile openers.
Hanks Beaned by Box Office Dodgeball
Weekend Wrap-Up for June 18-20, 2004
By John Hamann
May 20, 2004
Tracking had the openers pegged for a boring weekend box office wise. The Hollywood Reporter said on Friday that DreamWorks’ The Terminal was pegged for top spot by at least ten points, set for an opening around $30 million. They had Dodgeball duking it out with Harry Potter for second spot at around $20 million. The writing was already on the wall for Around the World in 80 Days after its extremely soft $1.4 million opening Wednesday. Audience tracking has never been an exact science, and statistics from NRG failed again this weekend, as we have a surprise in the top spot at the box office.
The number one film of the weekend is not The Terminal from DreamWorks and Parkes/MacDonald Productions; it's Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story from Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Films. Distributed by Fox, the aptly titled opener showed its best stuff this weekend, grossing a surprising $30 million from only 2,694 venues (Shrek 2 still has 3,306 venues after 33 days of release). The comedy had a fantastic venue average of $11,135. The production cost is estimated at $30 million, which means that Dodgeball is only the second film of the summer to make its production budget back during opening weekend, with the other being Shrek 2. Dodgeball packed houses on Friday night, but dropped off more than it wanted to over the course of the weekend. BOP was looking for a 2.8 multiplier, slightly off the 2.95 that Starsky & Hutch grabbed back in March. However, Dodgeball was more frontloaded than that, as the film managed a weekend multiplier of 2.5, which could mean short legs in the future. However, reviews bode well as RottenTomatoes has the film with a 69% fresh rating.
Ben Stiller produced the film through his own Red Hour Films, and should easily be the most successful of the company’s four releases. Red Hour got out of the gate extremely poorly in 1999 with The Suburbans, starring Stiller and Weekend Wrap fave Jennifer Love Hewitt. The production company took four years to recover from the flop, before taking on the similarly fated Duplex in 2003, which starred Stiller and Drew Barrymore. Duplex was an expensive lesson, costing Red Hour and Barrymore’s Flower Films $40 million to make, but returning only $9.7 million in domestic ticket sales. Things started looking up from that point on. Next was Starsky & Hutch, which grossed $88 million domestically and $160.8 million worldwide for WB against a production budget of $60 million. This weekend we have Dodgeball, which should easily gross three times its production budget domestically.
The Terminal and Dodgeball take a 100% reversal from the tracking statistics, as The Terminal finishes second with a $18.7 million weekend take. The film opened at 2,811 venues, and carried a venue average of $6,652 – almost $5,000 less than Dodgeball per screen. Feel free to use the BOP Feedback link below, but I will say that this opening should be regarded as a disappointment. With the all-star production team involved, this film had little to no buzz and now has a slim chance at making $100 million domestically. $100 million had to be the goal for a project starring Hanks and Zeta-Jones, directed by Spielberg, and produced by Spielberg, Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. With the tracking information, we know that moviegoers minds were changed late in the marketing campaigns, as people moved toward comedy instead of the more dramatic fare. Reviews were on the good side of mixed, with 85 positive reviews out of a possible 128 at RT (66% fresh). However, that’s the lowest RottenTomatoes score for a Spielberg-directed film since The Lost World: Jurassic Park came in at a rotten 53%. People expect quality from Spielberg and Hanks, and a large percentage got a soft review in their Friday newspaper, which may have led to a change in movie-going plans. On the good side, the performance of the film did improve as the weekend continued, as it ended its first Friday-to-Sunday with a decent internal multiplier of 2.93. Let’s see how The Terminal performs next weekend against The Notebook, Two Brothers and Fahrenheit 9/11.
Only a few million ahead of Shrek 2 in third is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Despite zero competition from demographically-similar opening films, Potter still got mulched this weekend, dropping 50% to $17.4 million. The chances of Potter 3 bettering the gross of Chamber of Secrets ($262 million) just got a lot more slim. However, Potter 3 tied Potter 2 for amount of days to reach $200 million, and if it can improve its drop trajectory next weekend, it may benefit from the July 4th weekend. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban sits with a current hefty bag gross of $190.3 million.
Fourth spot goes to the fifth weekend of Shrek 2. The DreamWorks superstar grossed another $13.6 million this weekend, losing 42% of last weekend’s audience. Shrek 2 passed The Passion of the Christ to become the highest grossing 2004 release this weekend, bettering The Passion’s current total of $370 million. The animated sequel has its eye on $400 million, as its sits with $378.3 million in domestic ticket sales. As a comparison, Spider-Man grossed $14.3 million in its fifth weekend, dropping 50%, and it sat with a total of $353.8 million. In terms of market share amongst the studios, Shrek 2 has moved DreamWorks up to third, behind only Warner Brothers and Sony. With both The Terminal and Shrek 2 in the top five and with Will Ferrell’s Anchorman and Tom Cruise’s Collateral still set for release this summer, look for DreamWorks to be a player in market share ranking come the end of the season.
All of last weekend’s openers got a red card this weekend, as the trend for high percentage drops for sophomore weekends in summer continues. Garfield plops down in fifth spot, grossing $11 million, down a heavy 49% from last weekend. The Fox film has now grossed $42 million.
Sixth is The Stepford Wives, the $90 million semi-miss from Paramount. Stepford grossed $9.2 million in its second weekend, down an angry 57%. The Nicole Kidman flick has now grossed $39.5 million and the studio will have to settle with a domestic gross in the $65-70 million range.
The big miss is seventh this weekend in the form of The Chronicles of Riddick. The $120 million Universal release dropped a stunning 66% in its second weekend, pulling a gross of $8.3 million. I’m thinking Vin should have taken 2 Fast 2 Furious, as Riddick’s two weekend gross is a puny $41.4 million – Shrek 2 did that in a day and a half.
Eighth is The Day After Tomorrow, 20th Century Fox’s third title in the top ten. The disaster epic grossed $7.6 million, down 48% from last weekend. Tomorrow has now grossed $166.8 million domestically.
Way back in ninth spot is Walden Media’s Around the World in 80 Days, and the film is going to be an ugly miss domestically for the upstart Walden and distributor Disney. 80 Days grossed $6.8 million over the Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend, after grossing only $2.8 million over its opening Wednesday and Thursday. The production cost was an unruly $110 million, initially put up by Walden, who then recouped some of that by selling distribution rights around the world. Paramount was actually almost the distributor of this film, but then wisely got out before Disney stepped in. The film opened on a quite wide 2,801 venues and had a sad weekend venue average of only $2,439. Critics hacked this one up. RT grabbed 96 reviews, and only 31 were positive, leading to a rotten 32%.
Finishing off the top ten this week is Troy from Warner Bros. Troy pulled in $1.7 million in its sixth weekend. The worldwide superstar has now grossed an okay $129 million domestically.
Overall this weekend, the top ten estimates came in at a soft $124.3 million. Last year the top ten pulled in about $138 million, well ahead of this weekend’s totals.