Hitch: Box Office Valentine for Sony
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for February 11-13, 2005
By John Hamann
February 13, 2005
With actuals released today, the estimate for Will Smith's Hitch tumbled significantly. The estimate was $45.3 million, the actual came in at $43.1 million, a $2.2 million difference. Second place Boogeyman also dropped, moving from $10.8 million to $10.2 million. Pooh and the holdovers all came in close to their estimates. The biggest surprise may have come from Sideways which went from a 2% increase over last weekend, to a 4% decrease. The column below hasn't been changed, but the chart at the bottom has.
What a great weekend it is. Love is in the air with Valentine’s Day coming on Monday, and moviegoers were sweet to studios as box office continued to stay ahead of last year’s weekly totals. The best news is that the streak of ugly films, films with abysmal reviews, have stopped for a weekend. The openers, Hitch and Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, were embraced by critics before the weekend, and embraced by moviegoers during it.
With Valentine’s Day falling on a Monday this year, would weekend box office feel an uptick? Last year, with Valentine’s Day on a Saturday, 50 First Dates opened to a hearty $39.9 million from 3,591 venues. It had an extremely strong 3.8 weekend multiplier, and went on to earn $120.8 million. Like Hitch, the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore flick was from Sony, and cost $75 million to make. In 2003, Fox’s Daredevil opened to $40 million, with Valentine’s on Friday. Chicago bumped up 18% after adding 400 screens, collecting some Oscar nominations, and being one of the few female-aimed flicks in the top ten. In 2000, like this year, Valentine’s Day was on a Monday, and no film broke out, or held very well. Scream 3 dropped 53% in its second weekend, and The Beach opened to just $15.3 million (even with Leo coming off Titanic), kids' flick Snow Day grossed a similar $14.3 million and The Tigger Movie found $9.4 million. As a point of comparison to Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, Tigger scored a healthy internal multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross) of 4.96. In 1999, Valentine’s was on a Sunday, and it really helped weekend box office. Miramax made a great move expanding Shakespeare in Love; it moved from $3.5 million the weekend before to $9.1 million over Valentine’s weekend (thanks also to a heap of Oscar nominations). Six films that weekend finished with more than $9 million, with Kevin Costner’s Message in a Bottle dominating with a $18.9 million. One of Mel Gibson’s greatest films, Payback, finished second, dropping only 17%. My point is that Valentine’s box office is not affected by where it lands on the weekend; again, it’s the film, not the date of release.
The number one film is Will Smith’s Hitch, the action star’s first romantic comedy after appearing in 12 leading roles. Hitch did very well this weekend, breaking out with an outstanding $45.3 million, from 3,575 venues. The comedy had a venue average of $12,671. With Valentine’s Day on Monday, Hitch pulled well all weekend, and ended up with an internal multiplier of 3.1 (usually openers of this size will be just below 3.0). The best news for the Sony release is that the non-holiday Monday will still behave like a holiday, adding significantly to the weekend draw. No budget data is currently available for Hitch, but a good guess would put it close to 50 First Dates, which cost Sony $75 million.
Reviews were great for the Will Smith/Kevin James/Eva Mendes film. At RottenTomatoes, 106 reviews were counted and a powerful 76 were positive, leading to a 72% fresh rating. Hitch is the first wide release to review well in a month, going back to Coach Carter, which was released on January 14th. Andy Tennant, who has proven to be quite good at putting these romantic comedies together, directed Hitch. His last film, Sweet Home Alabama, made $127 million on the domestic front and cost Buena Vista only $30 million to make. Tennant was also the helmer behind Ever After: A Cinderella Story, which grossed $65 million domestically and broadened Drew Barrymore’s audience dramatically. Hitch is gold for Sony, as Columbia Pictures and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment are the production companies on this one, so foreign markets and DVD/Home Video will stay with the powerful studio. Sony has already had a great 2005, with Ice Cube’s Are We There Yet? and Boogeyman already finding financial success.
Speaking of Boogeyman, Sony’s next release in the top ten finishes second, giving Sony the number one and two spots at the weekend box office. Boogeyman grossed a larger than expected $10.8 million, down a not-bad (for poorly made horror) 43%. Last weekend we heard that Boogeyman cost Sony and Ghost House Pictures $20 million to make, but now sources are saying that the production cost was more like $7 million, which only increases the profits on this one. So far, the horror flick has grossed $33.3 million, and will be another successful title for Sam Raimi and the staff at Ghost House Pictures, producers of the very successful The Grudge (which debuted on home video last weekend).
Ice Cube’s Are We There Yet? slips into the third place spot. Are We There Yet?, Sony’s third huge film in the top three, grossed another $8.5 million in its fourth weekend of release. The $50 million dollar comedy was down a tiny 20% this weekend, and the Cube Vision/Revolution Studios production has now earned $61.5 million. After being massive in theatres, this one will be a major player on video and DVD as well. For Sony, all I can say is what a weekend!
Fourth spot goes to Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, which continues to play very well after picking up a boatload of Oscar noms. Million Dollar Baby, starring Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman, earned another $7.6 million this weekend from 2,035 venues. MDB dropped only 13%, and has so far earned $45.1 million. Don’t forget: Baby cost Warner Bros, Lakeshore Entertainment and Clint’s Malpaso Entertainment only $30 million to produce, so it will be a big winner before the Oscars are handed out.
Our other opener, the much more small-scale Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, took the fifth spot. Even this old grump thinks it looks cute. The Heffalump was no Hitch this weekend, but it did the expected, grossing $6.0 million from 2,529 venues. This one couldn’t beat Piglet’s Big Movie ($6.1 million) or manage to reach Tigger’s opening ($9.4 million); however, opening weekends mean little to this franchise. Both Tigger and Piglet made the bulk of their money internationally. The Heffalump movie cost about $20 million to make, and will most likely make that back the first day this is out on DVD. This is an extremely profitable franchise, so BOP’s Tim Briody should be happy to find out that an Eeyore movie is definitely not out of the realm of possibility on the big screen.
Sixth goes to The Wedding Date, down from its second place finish last weekend. Usually, the big, big drops are reserved for horror films and sequels, however The Wedding Date managed to slide a nasty 50% in its second weekend. This goes back to the argument about competition affecting opening weekend grosses – it doesn’t, but it does tend to massacre the holdovers. The Wedding Date did manage to pull in another $5.6 million this weekend, and because the film cost less than $15 million to make, Universal and Gold Circle aren't going to worry about the big drop too much. So far, The Wedding Date has earned $19.5 million.
Finishing seventh is Robert De Niro’s Hide and Seek (what an odd time to release a special edition of Raging Bull on DVD, no?). Hide and Seek grossed $5.6 million this weekend, dropping a better 38%. The $22 million opener is almost a memory already. So far, the Fox film has grossed $43.6 million.
Sideways falls to eighth this weekend with a weekend gross of $4.8 million. Despite dropping 167 venues from its run, the Paul Giamatti flick was actually up 2% compared to last weekend. The $16 million production from Fox Searchlight has now earned $53.1 million.
Oscar nominee The Aviator dips to ninth this weekend. The Leonardo DiCaprio flick earned $4.6 million, down 15% compared to last weekend. The Martin Scorsese film has now pulled in $88.3 million.
Pulling up in tenth is Meet the Fockers, which should leave the top ten next weekend. Fockers grossed another $3.4 million this weekend to pull its huge total up above $270 million. Fockers passed the original Shrek this weekend, to become one of the top 25 domestic grossers ever.
Overall, box office was up a bit compared to last year when 50 First Dates debuted. Over the February 13th - 15th weekend in 2004, the top ten films grossed about $99 million. This weekend, box office found about $102 million in the top ten, keeping grosses close to last Valentine’s weekend.