Once upon a time, in the first weekend in April 1999, an R-rated action flick came to movie theatres, and it was unlike anything we had ever seen before. That movie, which opened five years ago to $27.8 million, was The Matrix, and it changed the moviegoing experience forever. Half a decade later, another ultra-violent action flick rolled into our neighborhoods over the same weekend. This time it was called Sin City, and once again through style and success, moviegoing will be changed forever.
Box Office Moves to Sin City
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for April 1-3, 2005
By John Hamann
April 3, 2005
When was the last time we heard buzz as loud as that on Friday for Sin City? You may have opened your morning newspaper on Friday to a four star review for the Frank Miller/Robert Rodriguez comic book film noir (I did). You may have been driving to work and heard about this stylish new flick on the radio (I did). Water cooler talk revolved around the trailer, cast, and reviews Sin City was receiving. The last time this happened was back in 1999 with The Matrix; however, the groundbreaking Keanu Reeves flick was a different animal. The Matrix played very well with audiences, where as Sin City may not have. Sin City is a very dark, brooding masterpiece; it is very wordy, and extremely violent - much more violent than The Matrix. Would audiences shun Sin City as word-of-mouth moves beyond comic book fanboys and into the general populace? Comparing the box office between these two movies is tough, as The Matrix opened on a Wednesday and it was Easter week; Sin City opened on Friday the weekend after Easter. However, the audience is basically the same – older males – so was Sin City able to pass The Matrix as the third biggest April opener ever? You betcha.
The number one film of the April 1st - 3rd weekend is of course Sin City, one of the last releases from the current version of Dimension Films, which will stay with the Weinstein Brothers when their contract with Disney finishes in September. Tracking had Sin City finishing with $30 million this weekend, and unlike last weekend, tracking was at least close. Sin City grossed $28.1 million from 3,230 venues – it had an average of $8,706 – a number everyone at Dimension Films has to be happy with. They also have to be happy with reviews. Of the 135 reviews counted at RottenTomatoes, a fantastic 104 were positive, leading to a 75% fresh rating. For a movie so violent and so dark, this is a fantastic score. That’s likely where the good news ends. Sin City took in about $11.6 million on Friday, which gives the film a weekend multiplier (Friday gross divided by weekend gross) of 2.4. For a multiplier, studios are looking for a number as close to 3.0 as possible, with numbers over 3.0 for films that have bigger audiences on Saturday and Sunday (G and PG-rated films mostly). This multiplier is quite low, and may mean a big drop-off is in the offering next weekend. The first volume of Kill Bill comes to mind as a comparison. That film opened to $22.1 million, which was higher than expected, had a weekend multiplier of 2.7, and followed its opening weekend with drops of 44% and 49%. Still, the opening gross for Sin City is a fantastic score for Dimension and Robert Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Films. It is the third biggest opener ever for the month of April, ahead of The Matrix and behind Anger Management ($42.2 million open) and The Scorpion King ($36.1 million open). For Robert Rodriguez, Sin City is his second biggest opening, narrowly missing Spy Kids 3-D, which found $33.4 million in July 2003. Sin City is now his biggest R-rated feature, beating Once Upon a Time in Mexico, which opened to $23.4 million in September 2003. Next up for the director has to be one of my favorite titles of all time – The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl – this one for the younger set is supposed to hit theatres in June of this year, although I’ve yet to see a promotional image for it. The opening weekend haul for Sin City is great news for movies in general; here is a great film with a whole bunch of style that will make a whack of money for the partners involved. Let’s light a candle and hope there’s more of this to come this year.
Beauty Shop finished second, as the Queen Latifah starrer wasn’t able to keep up with the two previous Barbershop films. Drowned out by the Sin City buzz, Beauty Shop gathered $13.4 million in its first weekend, well back of that of Barbershop ($20.6 million open) and Barbershop 2 ($24.2 million open). It did, however, earn $17.2 million since opening on Wednesday, and that has to be a number that MGM and Cube Vision (Ice Cube’s production company) are happy with. Beauty Shop is Queen Latifah’s second consecutive $10 million plus opener after she single handedly managed to give Jimmy Fallon a career after opening the awful Taxi to $12 million. For Cube Vision, 2005 has been a great year. The company has already released the very successful Are We There Yet, which found over $80 million domestically.
Third spot this weekend could easily be second when actual numbers are released tomorrow. Guess Who did it again, surprising with a second weekend gross of $13.0 million, down a tiny-for-stupid-comedy 37%. Urban audiences chose to support Guess Who almost as much as Beauty Shop this weekend; however, it could be said that Guess Who just had more crossover appeal than the Queen Latifah comedy. All of a sudden, Guess Who looks like at least a $75 million winner, as it already has $41.3 million in the kitty. Guess Who will easily be Ashton Kutcher’s biggest grosser, if Cheaper by the Dozen isn’t counted.
Fourth spot goes to Fox’s Robots, as the kid flick holds well in its fourth weekend. After drops of 42% and 39%, Robots had a better hold this weekend, depreciating a much improved 23% and earning $10 million, giving the animated feature its fourth weekend above $10 million (although that could change tomorrow when actuals are released). Robots crossed the $100 million mark on Saturday, its 23rd day of release. So far, the Blue Sky product has earned $104.6 million, still a long way from Ice Age’s domestic total of $176.4 million. The March release cost Fox and Blue Sky $75 million to make, and along with its overseas total has already earned more than $160 million worldwide.
In at fifth is last weekend’s disappointing sequel, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous. The Sandra Bullock comedy plummeted like sequels do, falling 40% in its second weekend and earning a soft $8.4 million from a huge 3,233 venues. The Warner Bros product has now found $31.4 million on the domestic front, which will thankfully end the franchise.
The Pacifier continues to hold well in its fifth weekend as the Vin Diesel family comedy continues to hold solidly. The Pacifier earned another $6.1 million and is dangerously close to hitting the $100 million mark. The Disney comedy dropped a small 25%, and follows similar small drops of 41%, 31% and 36%. The Pacifier now sits with $96.4 million, and is just starting to debut overseas. Disney has to be extremely pleased with their $56 million investment in this one, as the comedy will cross the $100 million mark next weekend.
At seventh, The Ring Two gets hammered again this weekend, as another sequel with lofty hopes gets killed by negative word-of-mouth. The Ring Two took in $5.8 million this weekend, down an embarrassing 57% from the previous frame, which follows a second weekend drop of 61%. Already down the well, The Ring Two has earned $68.1 million after three weekends of release.
Landing in eighth is The Upside of Anger after finishing in the top twelve the last two weekends, despite being in only a tiny amount of theatres. New Line added almost a thousand venues to the film’s run this weekend, and the Joan Allen/Kevin Costner drama finished with a gross of $4.1 million. Now at 1,111 venues, Upside managed a softer-than-expected venue average of $3,712. After three weekends of limited release, and one somewhat wide, the $12 million film has earned $8.7 million. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a weekend with two widely released, critically-embraced films – again, hopefully Hollywood takes note.
Ninth spot goes to Hitch, as the Will Smith starrer spends what will most likely be its last weekend in the top ten. Hitch earned $3.0 million in its eighth weekend of release, down only 30% from last weekend, and finds itself with a domestic total of $171.4 million.
Finally in tenth is Ice Princess. Disney’s teen ice skating movie never got off the ground, and earned only $2.6 million in its third weekend. It was down 32% from last weekend, and has a total box office now of $18.6 million.
Overall, even with the Sin City take at the box office, comparisons to last year do not hold up. Over the April 2nd - 4th weekend last year, the top ten earned about $107 million. This year, the top ten found about $94.6 million, well back of last year’s totals.