It was another one of those weekends. Three films with horrid reviews hit screens, with most eyes on Be Cool to take the top spot at the box office. However, like last weekend, everything was not as it seemed, as Vin Diesel and The Pacifier gave John Travolta and MGM a run for their money. Also this weekend we see the fallout from the Oscars, the second weekend of Diary of a Mad Black Woman, and the continuing dominance of Will Smith’s Hitch.
Vin’s Pacifier Cools Travolta at the Box Office
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for March 4-6, 2005
By John Hamann
March 6, 2004
As much as I really hate to say it, The Pacifier is the number one film at the box office this weekend, by quite a wide margin. If you’re like me, you may be saying “Why??? Why???”, but let’s face it; after this, we’re going to have to deal with a lot more Vin Diesel comedies in the future. Somehow, Disney sold $30.2 million worth of tickets to The Pacifier this weekend, as the family film earned a venue average of $9,652 from 3,131 venues this weekend. This is Diesel’s first laugher (if you don’t count The Chronicles of Riddick), and with the opening weekend take, should keep his career in high gear. It’s his biggest open since 2002’s xXx, which opened to $44.5 million. The Pacifier even beat the big-budget Chronicles of Riddick which opened to $24.3 million. Critically, this film was a mess, but with an internal multiplier of 3.4, audiences certainly didn’t care. At RottenTomatoes, The Pacifier was extremely rotten, garnering only 16 positive reviews out of a possible 79. That’s 20% fresh, and the film was given a 3.8/10 average rating. It was the worst reviewed film of the openers, and completely resembles Ice Cube’s Are We There Yet?, which received a 13% fresh rating before going on to make more than $80 million at the domestic box office. According to IMDb, The Pacifier cost Disney and Spyglass Entertainment $56 million to make, and should be a good asset for the Disney library. Next up for Diesel is a drama called Find Me Guilty, directed by recent lifetime Oscar winner Sidney Lumet. It’s an independently made courtroom drama about a mobster that chooses to defend himself. And no, I’m not kidding.
Second spot this weekend goes to John Travolta and the cast of Be Cool, sequel to the 1995 word-of-mouth hit, Get Shorty. MGM went bananas on the marketing of this one, and the effort mostly paid off, with the sequel enjoying an opening weekend of $23.5 million, albeit in an unexpected second place. Released to 3,216 venues, the gangster-in-LA flick found a venue average of $7,307. Be Cool is another film that stunk up review screenings, and critics were not pleased. Of Web and newspaper critics, 105 reviews were counted, and 30 were fresh, resulting in a 29% fresh rating. However, only counting newspaper critics, the score drops to an even more rotten 13%, with an average rating of 4.2/10. Despite the stench, the built-in audience still came out in droves. A budget estimate for Be Cool is not available; however, franchise novelist Elmore Leonard said a few years ago in an interview that MGM thought Be Cool would cost about $65 million. If that is the case, this should be a profitable outing for the company and the beginning of a nice exit for MGM, as the studio was bought out by Sony this year. For Travolta, the opening is his biggest, narrowly outgrossing 1997’s Face Off, which opened to $23.4 million.
Hitch takes back the lead from Diary of a Mad Black Woman to find the third spot. Hitch, now in its fourth weekend, enjoyed another weekend above the $10 million mark with a gross of $12.5 million. Now at 3,438 venues, the third comedy in the top three had a venue average of $3,635. The Sony flick dropped 39% compared to last weekend. Hitch has now earned $138.4 million, and should finish with at least $175 million against a production budget of only $70 million.
Fourth this weekend goes to last weekend’s surprise number one film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman. The shine came off the out-of-nowhere hit this weekend, as Lions Gate added 220 venues to the run, but still had to deal with a drop of 45% (which is better than expected; no one knew how frontloaded this was going to be). Diary grossed a still strong $12 million in its second weekend from 1,703 venues, finding an average of $7,046. So far, the film made for only $5.4 million has earned $38.1 million domestically and could finish with as much as $60 million, if not more. Congratulations to Tyler Perry, Lions Gate, and BET Television, who was the marketing force behind this film.
Finally, in fifth we get our Best Picture winner, Million Dollar Baby. The Clint Eastwood flick grossed $8.5 million this weekend from 2,350 venues and had an average of $3,621. Warner Bros added another 225 venues to Baby’s run, and the win and the expansion worked, as the film gained 16% over last weekend. In 2003, the similar-sized Chicago jumped 17% after winning the Oscar in late March. In 2002, A Beautiful Mind, dropped 5% following the ceremonies, but had gained 20% the weekend of the big event. Made for $30 million, Baby is in its 12th weekend of release, and has so far earned $77 million – with $100 million in sight.
Constantine was kneecapped for the second consecutive weekend, as the comic book property continues to disintegrate. The Keanu Reeves starrer took in $6 million this weekend, dropping a nasty 50% on the heels of last weekend’s drop of 60%. The good news for the WB release is that the overseas cume has so far equaled that of the domestic gross, which sits at $60.5 million.
Cursed falls three spots to seventh this weekend, as the Wes Craven horror flick grossed only $3.9 million this weekend from 2,805 venues. The horror flick dropped a nasty 60%, which is obviously the death knell for this one. From Dimension Films, a division of Miramax, Cursed cost $40 million and so far has earned a low $15.3 million. It also marks Wes Craven’s first horror-miss since 1995’s Vampire in Brooklyn.
Man of the House falls to eighth place, as moviegoers for some reason avoided this and flocked to The Pacifier instead. The Tommy Lee Jones comedy grossed $3.5 million this weekend, down an exceptionally nasty 61% from its debut. Sony is going to eat it on this one – the production budget was $40 million and the total so far sits at $14 million – and isn’t going to get much higher.
Ninth goes to Because of Winn-Dixie, the little girl and her dog story from Walden Media and Fox. Winn-Dixie earned $3.5 million in its third weekend, down a large 49% from last weekend due to a heavy loss of screens and some new competition. It appears little kids would rather see The Pacifier than something like this. Winn-Dixie has now earned $27 million versus a budget of $15 million. Don’t feel sorry for the folks at Walden; they have The Chronicles of Narnia coming up, which could turn in to a series a la Lord of the Rings.
Landing in ninth is The Jacket from Warner Independent Pictures, who for some reason forgot to market this flick. The new psychological thriller grossed a small $2.7 million, a may be the latest signal that audiences have tired of the onslaught of horror. The Jacket, starring Oscar winner Adrien Brody, was released to only 1,331 venues, and carried a venue average of $2,028.
Other Oscar nominees The Aviator and Sideways both dropped out of the top ten this weekend, finishing 11th and 12th respectively. The Aviator grossed $2.3 million and sits with $97.1 million, and Sideways took in $2.2 million, and has a total gross so far of $66.3 million. Both films dropped about 38% after failing to win the big Oscar prize.
If we compare the top ten to last year’s March 5th - 7th weekend when the top ten grossed $127.5 million, box office is down significantly, with a top ten take this weekend of $105.5 million.