Two sequels kick the December box office season into high gear, with mixed results. While studios generally avoid the post-Thanksgiving weekend like the plague, the second weekend in December is often used as a launching pad for crowd-pleasing films that can take full advantage of the box office money train that is late December. Of course, a film can't stumble out of the gate here if it wants to hold onto its screens during those weeks.
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up
for December 10-12, 2004
By Tim Briody
December 12, 2004
The number one film this weekend is a sequel to a film that opened on this very weekend back in 2001. Ocean's Twelve took in a solid estimated $40.1 million this weekend, easily capturing the top spot. Ocean's Eleven opened to $38.1 million three years ago and finished with $184 million domestically, so factoring in ticket price inflation, the Steven Soderbergh sequel is on pace with the original. Based on critical and audience reaction, it's not out of the question for Ocean's Twelve to duplicate the feat that the original eleven pulled off.
In second comes the other wide release, Blade: Trinity. The third entry in the Blade series, this edition adds Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds at Wesley Snipes' side, presumably hoping for one of those characters to carry the banner for the Blade franchise should this one prove successful.
New Line may not have to worry about that, though. Blade: Trinity takes the second spot with an estimated $16.1 million over the weekend, halving the $32.5 million Blade II opened with back in 2002. It stands at $24.6 million since its Wednesday release. Critics roasted it, with a mere 27% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and audiences weren't much kinder either, as word-of-mouth appeared to kill it by the time we hit the weekend.
After three weekends at the top spot (which practically makes you Titanic in this day and age) National Treasure surrenders the throne and slides to third, down 41% to $10 million. Produced by King Midas himself, Jerry Bruckheimer, the Nicolas Cage adventure epic's total now stands at a solid $124.2 million. Look for it to keep rolling through the holidays and finish around $150 million.
The Polar Express is slowing turning into a good story for Warner Bros., as it takes fourth with $9.8 million, a drop of just 9% from last weekend. The computer animated holiday film starring Tom Hanks has now earned $110 million in five weekends. We've beat you over the head with the rumored negative cost stories for The Polar Express, but it might not matter if it continues having miniscule drops like this over the remainder of December.
Christmas With The Kranks drops from second to fifth, slipping just 31.5% with $7.6 million. The Tim Allen holiday movie from Sony has earned a decent $54.7 million in three weekends. The $100 million mark is probably out of the question, but Kranks should still find itself with a very profitable $80 million or so by the time it's out of theaters.
Disney and Pixar's The Incredibles is in sixth with $5 million, down 44.4%. It's mammoth haul is now $232.5 million. It's just a matter of hanging onto its screens for it to pass Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for fourth place among 2004 releases.
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie stays in seventh place for the weekend, seeing a 43.4% decline to $4.3 million. The total take for the character who lives in a pineapple under the sea is now $73.6 million. Paramount has to be pleased with the (sea)legs Spongebob has shown since opening to $33.5 million and then falling off hard over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Oscar-bait Closer adds around 150 screens and its box office take declines 51.2% to $3.7 million. That's not going to impress the Academy much, is it? Closer's two week total is now $13.7 million, but further expansion may not be possible over the next two weeks.
Miramax's annual attempt at Oscar, Finding Neverland, also continues its platform release, adding just a handful of screens. The Johnny Depp/Kate Winslet film slips 40% from last weekend to $1.7 million. This isn't as dire a situation as Closer's is, though. With it continuting to platform over the next few weeks, Finding Neverland's stock as an Oscar contender is still rising.
Finally, it wouldn't be a Box Office Prophets column if we didn't get in a shot at Alexander. It manages to barely stay in the top ten as it falls a laughable 70% from last Friday with $1.4 million. The total for the Oliver Stone bomb is now $32.5 million, and it's not even going to approach $40 million domestic.
In limited release, Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou took in $114,000 on just two theaters and looks to expand further over Christmas. With a per screen like that, it's definitely going to be something to watch.