The President’s Day long weekend can be a cure for the February box office blues; however, box office has been somehow shining since the wraps came off of 2005. We were set to have another breakout President’s weekend this year, with Keanu Reeves’ Constantine headed out of the gate and the follow-up weekend of Will Smith’s Hitch rumbling forward. For the kids, we have Walden Media’s Because of Winn-Dixie and New Line’s un-needed sequel, Son of the Mask. All demographics were firing hard, and we have another record-breaking weekend on our hands.
Constantine Loses to Hitch at the Box Office
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for February 18-20, 2005
By John Hamann
February 20, 2005
Studios have to be extremely happy that instead of a combined Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend, the two split up this year, with Valentine’s falling last Monday and benefiting last weekend. The split provides a lift to both weekends, which benefits the folks at Sony the most, as Valentine’s was huge, and now with a holiday on Monday, Hitch was set for a soft drop. Last year, 50 First Dates was the opener over a combined President's/Valentine's weekend, and it scored a three-day opening of $39 million and a four-day total of $45.1 million. 2003 was combined as well, and Daredevil earned $40 million over the three-day and $45 million over the four-day. Would Constantine be able to take the weekend, or would the long weekend benefit Hitch enough to keep it in first?
The surprise of the weekend is Hitch, our number one film, which benefited from the holiday Monday in its second weekend of release. Hitch grossed a stellar $31.8 million this weekend, down an exciting 26%, an extremely low drop given its debut of $43.1 million. So far, it’s all good news for the Sony romantic comedy. Last Monday, Hitch became the biggest weekday Valentine’s earner with a Monday take of $7.5 million. 2004’s Valentine winner, 50 First Dates, dropped almost 50% in its second weekend, as it didn’t have a long weekend to prop that percentage up. Hitch, with its budget of $70 million, has now earned $90.1 million domestically already, and will cross the $100 million mark sometime this week. Hitch will easily become the studio’s first $120 million plus, non-Spidey hit – the last Sony film to do the same? 50 First Dates.
The number two film of President’s Day weekend 2005 is WB’s Constantine, which opened in a very big way despite landing in second. The Keanu Reeves comic book adaptation grossed a huge $30.5 million this weekend, with more to come over the holiday Monday. Constantine was released to 3,006 venues and scored a heavenly average of $10,154. That’s two consecutive weekends in February for an opening film to average more than $10,000 (Hitch averaged over $12,000 last weekend). For Keanu, this is his third biggest opening, behind the Matrix sequels Reloaded ($91.8 million open) and Revolutions ($48.5 million open). It does beat the original Matrix ($27.8 million open) and ties Bram Stoker’s Dracula ($30.5 million in 1992; however, Dracula’s debut translates to an opening of about $45 million with today’s ticket prices). Warner Bros and theatre owners have to be ecstatic with this opening.
Where does Constantine go from here? If it behaves like Daredevil, it goes straight to hell. Daredevil dive-bombed after its opening weekend, dropping a nasty 55% in its second frame. Opening over a long weekend can exacerbate a weekend drop, and Constantine did review similarly to Daredevil. The difference here may be a fanboy backlash, as the Ben Affleck curse pretty much started after the opening night of Daredevil. Constantine’s budget was $100 million and Reeves was paid $20 million for his role as John Constantine. All eyes will be on the weekend drop in the next frame, as that will tell the tale for the domestic box office on this one. Stay tuned.
Pulling up in third is Walden Media’s Because of Winn-Dixie. Walden was looking to ease the painful memories of their last wide release, Around the World in 80 Days, and they seem to have done that quite nicely. Winn-Dixie grossed a better-than-expected $10.9 million this weekend from 3,188 venues. The film had a venue average of $3,403. 20th Century Fox and Walden have already almost reached the production budget figure of $15 million for Winn-Dixie, something that Walden definitely failed to do with Around the World. That Disney partnership cost over $100 million to make, opened to a sad $7.5 million, and ended up with a little over $24 million.
Fourth this weekend, whether we like it or not, is Son of the Mask, the sequel to the 1994 Jim Carrey hit The Mask. Unlike its predecessor, Son of the Mask had a tricky time getting out of the gate, as it has had some of the worst reviews of the year in a year of mostly bad movies. Son of the Mask grossed $7.7 million this weekend, well off the $23 million the original grossed in its first weekend. New Line found 2,966 venues for their film, and had a venue average of $2,587. Review compilation Web site RottenTomatoes found 66 reviews of this one and only three, yes three, were positive. Reviewers that liked it include Fred Topel from About.com (“cute family movie that works on its own”), Tom Keogh from the Seattle Times (“a computer-generated valentine to cartoon anarchy”) and Louis B. Hobson of JAM! Movies (“if it tickles your fancy, you’ll be reduced to tears”). The other 63 reviews were quite hateful, with my favorite being Lou Lumenick at the New York Post who says, “parents who let their kids see this stinker should be brought up on abuse charges”. Enough said right there.
Fifth this weekend goes to Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood’s Oscar hopeful. WB added 70 venues to MDB’s run, bringing the count up to 2,105. The boxing movie grossed $7.2 million this weekend, down only 3% from the previous frame. The total for the award-winner sits at $54.7 million, well ahead of the $30 million production budget.
In at sixth is Ice Cube’s Are We There Yet?, which is still faring well despite competition from openers Because of Winn-Dixie and Son of the Mask. Are We There Yet? grossed $6.5 million this weekend, down a slim 21% from the previous frame. Now in its fifth weekend of release, the $50 million Sony flick has grossed $69.5 million on the domestic front.
Seventh goes to Boogeyman, down five spots from its second place finish last weekend. The Screen Gems/Ghost House co-production grossed $5.5 million in its third weekend, dropping a large 46% (Sony dropped almost 500 venues from the film’s run). The producers of Boogeyman have to be happy nonetheless, their $7 million film has now grossed six times that as it sits with a current gross of $41.1 million.
Eighth this weekend goes to Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, another cheap Disney sequel whose theatrical release is one big advertisement for the home video release. Heffalump grossed $4.4 million in its second weekend, down a decent 24%. So far, the $20 million, 68-minute movie has grossed $11.7 million.
Ninth goes to The Aviator, which had a great weekend, grossing $4.2 million, down only 11%. The Martin Scorsese flick has now earned $88.1 million.
Finally in tenth is Sideways, Fox Searchlight’s Oscar hopeful. Sideways grossed $3.9 million this weekend, down 13% from the previous frame. The total now for the Alexander Payne film is $58.1 million.
Overall this weekend, box office was hot. Last year, the top ten over the three-day portion of the President’s Day long weekend earned about $99.5 million. This year, the top ten earned a powerful $112.5 million.