As we drift into late August, with the summer season winding down, we experience a rapid decline in movie quality, and thus, box office. While it's certainly not too late for a big breakout, none of the two wide releases (plus one wide expansion) were set to light the world on fire, though none were poised to completely embarass themselves either.
Weekend Wrap-Up for August 20-22, 2004
By Tim Briody
August 22, 2004
The number one film this weekend, as expected, was The Exorcist: The Beginning, Warner Bros.' prequel to the 1973 classic. Earning $18.1 million is a decent enough figure, depsite no stars, a 9% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a 2.44 internal multiplier. The bean counters at the WB are just hoping the freefall from here won't be too swift, as the alleged budget of $40 million (despite a near-complete reshoot? Riiiiight.) isn't entirely out of the question.
Second place goes to another newcomer, the heavily marketed Paramount comedy Without a Paddle, with $13.7 million. Described by some as City Slickers for a new generation, the Seth Green/Matthew Lillard film got miserable reviews, though fortunately the target audience for this film doesn't read those. The budget for Without a Paddle is said to be under $20 million, so it only needs another weekend or so before it's in the black, and if said target audience enjoyed the film, look for it to have a few weeks of decent earnings before having a nice long life as a cult film on DVD.
The Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagment slips one spot to third this weekend, down 42.5% with $13.2 million. The G-rated Anne Hathaway/Julie Andrews sequel is performing very well for Disney after two weekends, with $61.3 million in the treasury. The dropoff may seem a bit high, but it's practically the norm for the summer. If The Princess Diaries 2 can get its declines down to the 30% range from here, it can start looking towards matching the $108 million the first film earned.
Falling from first to fourth is last week's champ Alien vs. Predator. Down a crazy 67.3% from last weekend, it's welcome to the Summer of 2004 in a nutshell. From its amazingly low internal multiplier last weekend to its huge decline this weekend, AVP is a textbook example of what sort of emphasis Hollywood has put on both opening night and opening weekend. Despite $63 million after just ten days in theaters, AVP is a lock to not make $100 million domestically, a fact that seemed absurd even just a few years ago. The Freddy vs. Jason comparison from last year is starting to look pretty good here.
Vaulting from 17th place to fifth by expanding over 2,600 screens is Open Water, an attempt by Lions Gate to recapture the lightning in a bottle that was The Blair Witch Project. After two fairly impressive weeks on under 100 screens, the studio was counting on word-of-mouth to help it in its expansion to 2,700 theaters. With $11.7 million for the weekend, that didn't happen, but Open Water has already made its budget back 100 times over. If the word-of-mouth from audiences this weekend is overwhemlingly positive, the film could have a couple of weeks of decent earnings through the Labor Day weekend, but to Lions Gate it's really all just gravy at this point. Open Water's tally stands at $14.8 million after three weekends.
The Michael Mann-helmed Collateral, starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, slips to sixth this weekend with $10.5 million. Off just 35% from last weekend, Collateral is staking its claim as one of the leggier films of the summer, as sad as that sounds. Clearly a film to remembered come awards season, Collateral has earned $70.1 million in three weeks. It needs similar drops over the next few weeks before the summer box office well runs dry to make the $100 million mark.
The Bourne Supremacy takes seventh with $6.6 million, down just 23.2% in its fifth weekend. Two films in, the Bourne franchise is already one of the most successful new series in recent memory and as long as Matt Damon stays interested, there's no reason for it to slow down any time soon. The spy smash's tally now stands at a solid $150.6 million, and still has enough life left in it to finish in the $170-175 million range.
Denzel Washington's The Manchurian Candidate places eighth with $4.2 million and $54.7 million in four weekends. While Washington has been as consistent as they come in terms of box office over the last few years, The Manchurian Candidate looks to place on the low end of his recent scale. The political thriller should end its campaign with about $63 million.
M. Night Shyamalan's The Village clings to ninth with $3.6 million, off another 48.6% in its fourth weekend. It's got $107 million in the till to date. The drop could have been more severe, as The Village shed nearly 1,000 screens from last week. Either way, it's pretty much run its course with a likely final tally in the area of $115 million.
BOP-fave Zach Braff, writer, director and star of Garden State, sees his film squeeze into the top ten with $3.2 million. The Fox Searchlight film added almost 500 screens and lots of positive word-of-mouth. The film is coming at a very good time, especially as the new TV season (and thus, lots of free press) nears. After four weekends, Garden State has earned $6.6 million and has its sights set on a lot more as it expands further the over the new few weeks.
Next week, four films clog up theaters as the final weekend of the summer nears, with Jet Li's Hero and a completely unnecessary Anaconda sequel leading the way. Also released are thriller Suspect Zero and, from the WHY, GOD, WHY? category, Baby Geniuses 2.