With Fox’s Robots already a weekend ago memory, The Ring Two stepped up to the plate to try and dethrone Ice Age as the top opener ever in March. The first Ring opened to little fanfare back in October 2002, and used Halloween to launch itself into the horror history books. Now DreamWorks is back with a built-in audience for The Ring Two, as it faces off this weekend against Disney’s low-budget Ice Princess. With the debut of Princess, there are now three films aimed at the young teen demo. Will there be enough room in the box office pie for Robots, The Pacifier and Ice Princess? Read on to find out.
Ring Two Another Box Office Disappointment
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for March 18-20, 2005
By John Hamann
March 20, 2004
The number one film is The Ring Two, as the sequel made more in its first day than the original did over its opening weekend. However, the rest of the weekend was not as stellar. The Ring Two ended up with a softer than expected $36 million this weekend from 3,332 venues. The horror sequel had a venue average of $10,804. As BOP’s Tim Briody mentioned yesterday, The Ring Two scored $15.5 million on its opening Friday, eclipsing the opening weekend of the original by a half million. That gives the Naomi Watts film a weekend multiplier (Friday gross divided by weekend gross) of 2.3, disappointing even for a horror sequel. Reviews and word-of-mouth were disastrous for The Ring Two, as critics hammered the sequel heading into opening weekend. At RottenTomatoes, 101 reviews were counted, and only 26 were of the positive variety, with many reviewers using the words “unnecessary” and “greedy”. The original was the complete opposite. The Ring had 163 reviews counted, with 119 being positive, leading to a 73% fresh rating. Unlike the sequel, the original wasn’t all about opening weekend (I called the $15 million opening so-so); it was about the following weekends. The Ring increased over its opening take by 23% in its second weekend (against the opening of jackass: the movie), and followed that with a 2% drop in its third frame (against The Santa Clause 2). These things won’t happen with the sequel. Look for a drop next weekend in the 50%+ area against Miss Congeniality 2 and Guess Who.
For DreamWorks, The Ring Two is their first release of 2005, which could be a big year for the studio. DreamWorks has been on a roll since Shrek 2 ($437 million finish) was released last May, with hits coming from The Terminal ($77 million finish), Collateral ($100 million finish), Anchorman ($84 million finish), and Shark Tale ($161 million finish), with one big miss in Surviving Christmas ($11 million finish). Next up for the upstart studio is the animation unit’s Madagascar, featuring the voices of Ben Stiller and Chris Rock, amongst others. Then DreamWorks will have a slice of Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds (Paramount is the US distributor), a slice of Michael Bay’s The Island (with WB), the new Wes Craven flick Red Eye, Just Like Heaven with Reese Witherspoon, and The Wallace and Gromit movie, which everybody at BOP is thrilled to have coming down the pike. It’s going to be an excellent 2005 for DreamWorks, even though The Ring Two is going to disappoint.
Second spot this weekend goes to Robots, Fox Animation’s failing bid at the computer-animated cash machine. Fox missed the jackpot last weekend and the news didn’t get better in its second frame. Robots earned a soft $21.8 million in its second weekend, another disappointment for the studio. The Blue Sky studios production dropped a severe-for-animation 40%, and had a venue average of $5,779. Ice Age, after opening to $46 million dropped 35% in its second frame, grossing $30 million. The $75 million animated flick has now earned $66.9 million, on its way to at least $125 million.
The battle for third was fought between two Disney movies, The Pacifier and Ice Princess. Vin Diesel’s The Pacifier holds on for third this weekend, as the ice skating movie did not breakout. The Pacifier earned another strong $12.5 million this weekend, down a slim-for-Vin 31%. The youth-oriented film is now Diesel’s biggest domestic grosser since 2002’s xXx, as The Pacifier has now passed the gross of Chronicles of Riddick, which finished with an under-whelming $57.7 million. The $56 million Pacifier has now earned $72.3 million, and should somehow make it to at least $100 million.
Disney’s Ice Princess lands in fourth, as the mouse house does its best to reduce the earnings of Fox’s Robots. Looking more like a Disney Channel production than a feature film, this low budget outing did okay this weekend, but failed to meet expectations. Disney was looking for a $15 million opening this weekend, but will have to settle for $7 million from 2,501 venues. The teen girl film scored a venue average $2,804. Ice Princess received mixed reviews from critics this weekend, so I doubt that the figure skating film will make any headlines following opening weekend. Disney will have to look forward to Herbie in June for their next big young teen movie.
In its sixth weekend, Hitch still manages a top five spot, which is a definite signal that there have been a lot of so-so movies in the top ten over the last couple of weeks, not to mention a lack of good adult fare. Hitch grossed $6.6 million this weekend from 2,703 venues, off 272 venues compared to last weekend. The Sony film dropped a tiny 25%, its lowest drop over its six week run. Currently the $70 million production has grossed $159.4 million, with $175 million being a lock and $190 million not out of the question.
The duel between Bruce Willis’ Hostage and John Travolta’s Be Cool was hot this weekend; too bad for these now B-List stars that the duel was for sixth. It was basically a tie; Be Cool placed sixth with $5.8 million, down 43% after dropping 56% last weekend. Be Cool now has a disappointing $47.2 million in the box office kitty. Hostage finished with a similar $5.8 million in its second frame, down a nasty 43% from its opening frame despite adding 60 more venues. The $65 million production has now earned a soft $19.3 million; it will be lucky to make it to $40 million.
Eighth place goes to Million Dollar Baby, as the Oscar winner continues to will itself toward $100 million. The Clint Eastwood flick earned $4.1 million, bringing the total for the $30 million production up to $90 million. The Best Picture winner is still showing great legs after 14 weekends of release; the drop this weekend was only 21%.
Diary of a Mad Black Woman finishes in ninth, as the urban flavor of the month sees the door faster than most people expected. Diary, which opened to $21.9 million four weekends ago, earned $2.5 million this frame. The $5.4 million production dropped 49% and has now earned $47.8 million.
Tenth goes to Keanu Reeves’ Constantine, the fanboy movie that never found an audience beyond opening weekend. Constantine grossed $2.3 million in its last weekend in the top ten, down 40% from the previous frame. The $100 million Constantine has now grossed $70.4 million domestic, with overseas grosses already $15 million ahead of the North American gross.
Finishing in a surprise eleventh spot is the Joan Allen/Kevin Costner movie The Upside of Anger. Despite being at only 153 venues this weekend, Upside still earned $1.9 million, giving it a hot venue average of $12,666 (about $1,850 better than The Ring Two). The small New Line Release has earned $2.2 million, and should expand wide in the next couple of weeks.
Overall, box office was even compared to last year. In 2004 over the March 19th - 21st weekend, Dawn of the Dead opened strong, leading the box office to a top ten take of about $105 million. This year, on the strength of The Ring Two, top ten estimates came in at about $104.5 million, pretty much flat against last year’s totals.