The battle between good and evil continued at the box office this weekend. Two more stinkers were released to theatres in Boogeyman and The Wedding Date, and, like usual over the past few weeks, these titles dominated the box office. The Good continued to show well this weekend, though, as Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator and Sideways all had good holds. The Super Bowl added some significant competition, but box office was strong in the face of the big game.
Moviegoers Boogey to the Box Office
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for February 4-6, 2005
By John Hamann
February 6, 2005
The Super Bowl is not the box office killer some people think it is. Last year over the same Super Bowl weekend, upstart You Got Served from Screen Gems came from out of nowhere and earned $16.1 million over its first three days. In 2004, as New England beat Carolina, no release in the top ten fell more than 45%, and Oscar contenders saw large weekend-to-weekend growth. In 2003, Tampa rocked Oakland’s world and Darkness Falls earned $12 million over opening weekend against the Super Bowl – the film cost Revolution Studios only $7 million to make. One has to go back to 2002 (New England vs. St. Louis) to find some large opening weekend flops against the big game. Slackers and Birthday Girl, two poorly marketed, poorly executed films earned about $2.5 million each, leaving them outside of the top ten. Romantic comedies also work versus the Super Bowl. 2001’s The Wedding Planner had a $13.5 million debut, and went on to earn $60.4 million. In 1999, She’s All That found $16.1 million over its opening weekend, and ended up grossing $63.4 million. This Super Bowl weekend, it's certainly no surprise that we get a romantic comedy and a teen-aimed horror flick – both cheap to make and marketed hard. Reviews continued the trend we’ve followed through January; not only are the reviews bad, they are simply awful – again testing reviewers to find new words of degradation to heap upon them.
The number one film of the weekend is Boogeyman, another horror film touting the Sam Raimi name in its advertising. Boogeyman’s incessant marketing propelled the weekend gross to a powerful $19.5 million, following an opening Friday of $8.5 million. Distributed in North America by Screen Gems and made by Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert’s Ghost House Pictures, Boogeyman was released to a wide-for-Screen Gems 3,052 venues. The film had a venue average of $6,389 and a weekend multiplier of 2.3, which is low, even considering the genre and the Super Bowl. Ghost House Pictures is known for making low-budget horror films like Boogeyman and the very successful The Grudge, which opened last October to $39.1 million and finished with $110.4 million domestic, and another $50 million coming from overseas receipts. The Grudge cost Ghost House a laughable $10 million to make (plus a lot more than that to market), so the production company could probably afford to make a hundred more Boogeymans. The low budget Boogeyman cost $20 million to make, so it will be another financial windfall for Raimi, who is coming off huge returns for Spider-Man 2 as well. For Screen Gems, this is their second consecutive hit versus the Super Bowl, after releasing You Got Served against the big game last year. I’ll get into the reviews after we discuss how the second place film did.
Second spot goes to The Wedding Date, the second release of the year for partners Universal Films and Gold Circle Films, following the successful White Noise with Michael Keaton. The Wedding Date, starring Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney, earned a surprise $11 million over Super Bowl weekend. Universal chose to release Date to only 1,694 venues, so they end up with a hot venue average of $6,489, the best in the top ten. Universal and Gold Circle picked an excellent weekend to release their film. There was no romantic date-night type movie in sight, and The Wedding Date provided excellent counter-programming to the Super Bowl. Not surprisingly, the similarly-titled The Wedding Planner, starring Jennifer Lopez and Mathew McConaughey, also opened solidly against the Super Bowl before going on to earn $60.4 million against a production budget of $35 million. That’s where the change comes in. Gold Circle is a production company that makes movies for less than $25 million, but if someone asked, I’d say this one came in at around $10 million. If that is the case, Gold Circle is going to end up with about $100 million in domestic grosses between White Noise and Wedding Date, most likely against production costs of less than $40 million, if not less.
Reviews for both Boogeyman and The Wedding Date were hideous, as Screen Gems hid Boogeyman from reviewers until opening day. When a romantic comedy and a horror film open together, logic would say the rom-com would review much better. In this case, both films have reviewed very similarly. The Wedding Date earned nine positive reviews out of a possible 83, giving it a fresh rating of only 11%. Boogeyman only has 30 reviews counted so far, and a big two are positive, giving it a horrific fresh rating of 7%. That adds two more titles to what has been an awful year for movies so far.
Finishing in third is another garbage flick, Ice Cube’s Are We There Yet? The comedy for young people, like predecessors Kangaroo Jack and Snow Dogs, held quite resiliently again this weekend. The comedy fell only 36%, and earned a third weekend gross of $10.4 million. The $50 million Sony/Revolution release has now earned $51.1 million, and it should finish with at least $75 million.
Fourth this weekend is the last frame’s number one film. Hide and Seek got eviscerated by the Boogeyman this weekend (and the Super Bowl), as it dropped a nasty 60% compared to its opening $22 million take. Hide and Seek earned $8.9 million from its 3,005 venues, and the Fox release has now earned $35.7 million.
Sadly, we had to wait until fifth to get to the good movies, where Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby resides. The boxing film, released by Warner Bros, earned $8.8 million, dropping only 29% compared to last weekend. WB added only 15 additional venues, brining Baby up to 2,025 screens. The total now for the $30 million-budgeted, Oscar-nominated film sits at $34.7 million.
It was a three-way battle for sixth as two Oscar nominees and a box office sensation went at it. Landing in sixth is The Aviator, Martin Scorsese’s Oscar nominated feature. The Aviator grossed $5.4 million in its eighth weekend of release. The film was off 28%, and has a running total of $75.9 million. With international grosses counted, Miramax has exceeded the production budget of $110 million.
Seventh went to Meet the Fockers, as the Universal release continues to hurl itself towards $300 million. Fockers grossed another $5 million this weekend, down only 38% from last weekend despite shedding 502 venues to bring its count down to 2,504. The comedy sensation has now earned $265.3 million, making it the 26th biggest film ever on the domestic front.
Sideways, now in its 16th weekend, came up in eighth place. The film had another great frame, as Fox Searchlight added 93 venues to bring its total up to 1,787. The Alexander Payne masterpiece grossed $4.8 million this weekend, and had a venue average of $2,686. The Oscar nominated drama has now earned $46.8 million, with potentially a lot more to come after the Oscars are announced.
Ninth this weekend is Racing Stripes, which earned $4.4 million, dropping 32%. The zebra racing kids movie has now grossed $40.5 million.
Tenth goes to Coach Carter, which has had a great run in the top ten. The Coach grossed another $4.4 million this weekend, its fourth weekend of play. The $30 million Paramount feature has now earned a strong $59.5 million and should finish between $65 and $70 million.
Overall, it was another strong weekend at the box office. Over last year’s Super Bowl weekend, when New England beat Carolina 32-29, You Got Served brought the top ten totals up to about $67 million. This year’s totals eclipse that handily, with the top ten estimates coming in at $82.7 million.