Spider-Man got out of the box office gate in a big way over this July 4th holiday weekend, webslinging his way once again into the box office record books. Expectations were very high heading into the frame. We know that the comic book hero took the Wednesday record, but could Spidey beat the $114.8 million three-day record he set in May 2002? Simple answer: No. Is this in any way, shape or form a disappointment? Read on and find out.
Wednesday Open Propels Spider-Man 2 Box Office
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for July 2-5, 2004
By John Hamann
July 5, 2004
Let’s get right into it. Spider-Man 2 is the number one film of the weekend, pulling in a three-day gross of $88.3 million from an obscenely large 4,152 venues. It had a three-day venue average of $21,266, a few thousand shy of what Fahrenheit 9/11 did last weekend. Over four days (Friday-to-Monday) the Sony flick grossed $115.8 million. Since its Wednesday open, and over six days, the webslinger has grossed an amazing $180.1 million (a new record). Why didn’t Spidey beat his own three-day record? Like all behemoth Wednesday openers, the huge opening day figure draws away from the Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend. The Wednesday number in this case was $40.4 million; if that had been a Friday number, Spider-Man 2 would have easily broken the three-day opening weekend record. Instead, Sony is forced to settle with the six-day tally of $180.1 million, a number that no one could find disappointing. Think of it this way: the former top two July 4th openers were the Men in Black films, also from Sony. Over their three-day July 4th weekends, the two Will Smith blockbusters only grossed $52.1 and $51.1 million respectively, more than $35 million less than what Spider-Man 2 earned.
As Reagen Sulewski reported on Thursday, Spidey 2 grossed $40.4 million on Wednesday (including midnight showings on Tuesday nights), which lent to a top opening day and the best Wednesday ever. The film then dropped to $23.8 million on Thursday, down 41% (there’s those midnight showings again). BOP’s Tim Briody then said on Friday that Spidey 2 grossed $30.7 million on Friday, well back of the $39.4 million the first film gained on its opening day. The question of the weekend was how Spidey 2 would perform on Saturday, its fourth day of release. If the die-hard Spider-Man fans had seen the film by now, would a drop-off be close at hand? The Saturday figure for the sequel came in at $33.8 million, an increase from Friday of only 4%, which shows how front-loaded this comic book film is. It is here that the bad news for Spidey 2 begins to roll. Shrek 2, which also opened on a Wednesday, grossed $44.8 million on its first Saturday and The Passion of the Christ grossed $33.1 million. Why did the vaunted Spidey sequel fail to surpass Shrek and Christ? The answer lies in the release date – not as many people were able to see the February and May films during the week as the July film. Sunday was the 4th, and competition from barbecues and fireworks reigned, and Spidey grossed an estimated $22 million. That gives the film a five-day total of $152.6 million. It also gives the film a Friday-to-Sunday multiplier of 2.7, which isn’t bad considering the holiday. The estimate for Monday came in at $27.5 million, well above the July 4th figure; hence a six-day total of $180.1 million.
Spider-Man 2 cost Sony a reported $210 million to make, a number so big it seems ludicrous, but a good investment nonetheless. Despite the five-day pattern, the Spidey sequel should beat the $403.7 million the original took domestically and become the third film to break a billion dollars in overall box office. Reviews were uniformly excellent; of the 160 reviews counted at RottenTomatoes, only a tiny nine were counted as negative. That score led to a 94% fresh rating – for a film with over 100 reviews at RT, that’s the best of the year so far (Shrek 2 was 90% fresh, Super Size Me was 93% fresh). Spidey 2 opened pretty much day and date internationally as domestically; however, international estimates hadn’t been released at the time of this writing. The answer to where Spider-Man 2 is headed domestically will be answered next weekend, when the comic book super hero will take on the likes of King Arthur and the always-dangerous Will Ferrell in Anchorman.
With all the hype surrounding the webslinger, the heat surrounding the mudslinger’s Fahrenheit 9/11 eased a bit this weekend along with the box office take. Despite adding an extra day’s grosses and 857 runs to its opening weekend screen count of 868 venues, Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 still dropped 12%, pulling in a four-day holiday weekend gross of $21 million. As I said last weekend, with the force of Spider-Man taking control of the box office, F9/11 would have gotten bumped into smaller venues in the same cineplexes so that Spidey could take advantage of opening weekend crowds. However, the venue average for the film was still large, coming in at $12,173. The total now for Fahrenheit 9/11 has now reached an awesome $60.1 million after only two weekends against a budget of only $6 million.
There was a vicious fight for third spot this weekend, as Spidey counter-programming went up against previous weekend hits. The winner of the box office fight for third was White Chicks, Sony’s other entry into the top three films at the box office. The Wayons Brothers film grossed another $12 million over the four-day weekend, down 39%. Over a long weekend like this one, studios hope to match the previous weekend’s box office, and this one failed in its task, as word-of-mouth on White Chicks is questionable at best. The comedy now has a total gross of $47.1 million, well ahead of its reported production budget of $35 million.
Fourth appears to go to Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Ben Stiller’s entry into the sports film genre. Dodgeball grossed $10.5 million over the four-day long weekend, losing 44% even with the extra day of grosses. Dodgeball is another huge success story from summer box office 2004, as it now has a gross of $86.7 million and should have no problem fighting its way to $100 million, despite only costing $30 million to make.
Fifth spot this weekend goes to The Notebook, a film I thought would have performed better in its sophomore weekend. The tearjerker grossed $10.3 million over the long weekend, down 23% compared to its debut frame last weekend. It now has a total of $31.6 million.
The Terminal manages to hang on to sixth spot this weekend, as the Tom Hanks/Steven Speilberg production is showing some legs. Over the long weekend, The Terminal grossed $10.2 million, down only 22% from the previous frame. The Terminal cost DreamWorks $70 million, and has now pulled in $56.7 million.
Seventh goes to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Potter 3 grossed $8.1 million over the four-day weekend, down 28% compared to last weekend’s frame. The Warner Bros flick has now taken in $225.3 million domestically and at last report had taken in over $320 million from overseas grosses.
Eighth this weekend is the unstoppable Shrek 2, which pulled in a four-day gross of $7.9 million. Shrek 2 became the fastest film to reach $400 million, doing it in 43 days, a whopping 23 days faster than Spider-Man and Titanic. The DreamWorks bonanza now has an overall take of $410.2 million, as it passed the overall gross of the original Spider-Man, which stood at $403.7 million.
Two Brothers, a film I wish had done better, comes in ninth by a nose. Two Brothers grossed $3.6 million over the four-day weekend, and now has a total of $12.6 million.
Tenth this weekend is Garfield: The Movie, which also took in $3.6 million over the long weekend. The Fox cat film has now grossed $63.6 million domestically, against a production budget of about $50 million.
Overall. the box office was white hot thanks to the help of Spider-Man 2. The four-day totals for the top ten estimates came in at $203 million, a new record for the July 4th weekend.