Question: Since the end of 2002, how many MGM-produced films have finished in top spot at the weekend box office? Answer: Two – only franchise films Barbershop 2 and Die Another Day have risen to the top, while the storied studio has settled for second too many times (Be Cool, Legally Blonde 2, Walking Tall). It was set to be another soft weekend at the box office, same as the previous eight, with The Amityville Horror a given number one opener. The real question this weekend was how far over the film’s $18 million budget would the remake finish?
Amityville No Horror for MGM
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for April 15-17, 2005
By John Hamann
April 17, 2005
With only this and another weekend of spring releases before the summer behemoth begins, moviegoers continued to shun the current lineup of films at the box office, deciding to wait for blockbuster season instead. The number one film of the weekend comes in the form of The Amityville Horror, the remake from MGM and Dimension Films, but it neither broke out nor surprised on the downside, coming in at an expected $23.3 million from 3,323 venues. It had a venue average of $7,011; which again is not enough to beat the per theater average of word-of-mouth winner Kung Fu Hustle, which had an average of $37,714 from seven screens – the highest for the second straight weekend. For MGM, The Amityville Horror is their last release independent of Sony; ironically it's their first time on top in a number of years. For Amityville partner Dimension, it’s the studio's biggest since two weekends ago when the currently super-hot studio brought us the cultish Sin City (the streak ends here – next up is the oft-delayed and indescribably stupid-looking Mindhunters). For star Ryan Reynolds, it’s his biggest open ever, beating out last year’s Blade: Trinity, which opened to $16.1 million. As for horror remake comparisons, Amityville finished lower compared to its recent compatriots. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, also produced by Michael Bay, opened to $28.1 million, and the Dawn of the Dead redux opened to $26.7 million.
Audiences have not embraced the remake of the 1979 non-classic; one of BOP’s members called it “a giant bag of suck”, which sums it up much better than I ever could. Reviewers seemed to agree: of the 98 critics that managed to remain until the end, only 28 were nice enough to give it a thumbs up, leaving it with a nasty average of 29% at RottenTomatoes. The Amityville Horror cost MGM, Dimension and its production partners only $18 million to make, so the producers should be able to pay someone to pick up the ball they dropped.
Second spot goes to last weekend’s number one film, Sahara, which seems to be getting more expensive every day. Sahara grossed another $13.1 million this weekend, down a slim 28%, but production company Crusader Entertainment shouldn’t get too excited quite yet. Some reports have had Sahara’s negative cost as much as $130 million, but that amount could go higher. Clive Cussler, the novelist who gave birth to Sahara, is suing Crusader for $10 million, saying the company made unauthorized changes to his story. Currently, the total for the action film sits at $36.4 million, with $100 million more seriously doubtful.
Landing at third is Fever Pitch, as Drew Barrymore throws Jimmy Fallon a line, just like Queen Latifah did in the horrible Taxi. In its second weekend, the romantic comedy revolving around Boston Red Sox baseball dropped 29% this weekend, pulling in $8.8 million. The small drop is curious; Taxi managed to drop only 34% in its second weekend before plummeting 48% in its third weekend. The $40 million film has now earned $23.9 million, and will most likely be Drew Barrymore’s fifth film to finish with less than $35 million in her last eight outings.
Fourth this weekend is critical and fanboy darling Sin City. Minting the cult status of the Frank Miller film is its divisive word-of-mouth. After dropping 51% last weekend, the comic book movie did it again, chucking 53% in its third weekend. The $40 million Dimension release from wunderkind director Robert Rodriguez earned a too-low $6.7 million this weekend, as North America continues its love/hate battle over this vicious film. So far, the black and white masterpiece has earned $61.3 million and should see as much as $90 million in domestic receipts before it is done. I can only hope that people remember Mickey Rourke for best supporting actor a year from now.
Fifth spot goes to the Bernie Mac/Ashton Kutcher starrer Guess Who. After opening strongly with $20.7 million, the shine has come off this release, as Beauty Shop and Fever Pitch have eaten into its target demo. Guess Who grossed $4.9 million this weekend, down 30% from the previous frame. That follows drops of 39% and 45%, as the comedy sits with $57.6 million after four weekends.
Beauty Shop finishes sixth this weekend, and is another title in the ‘MGM Disappointment’ file. The Queen Latifah starrer had many things going for it, but it has failed to live up to expectations. In its third weekend, Beauty Shop grossed only $3.8 million, down 44% from the previous weekend. Beauty Shop does not fit with the rest of the titles in the Barbershop franchise; this one has earned $31.3 million and will compare woefully with Barbershop ($75.8 million finish) and Barbershop 2 ($65.1 million finish).
Seventh spot goes to Fox’s Robots, which is thankful the crop of new films has been soft, giving it six weekends in the top ten. Robots grossed $3.6 million this weekend, down 24% from the previous frame. The kids will have to wait until Madagascar opens on May 27th to get more animated fare. So far, the animated feature has earned $115.7 million.
Flopping into eighth is Miss Congeniality 2, the sequel we would have been better off without. The Warner Bros flick continues to flounder this weekend, following consecutive 40%+ drops. The Sandra Bullock starrer grossed $2.9 million in its fourth weekend, down another 32% from the previous frame. So far, the comedy has grossed $41.6 million.
The Pacifier, enjoying its seventh (!) weekend in the top ten, finishes ninth. The Vin Diesel comedy crossed the $100 million mark last weekend, and finished this weekend with $2.4 million, off only 23%. The successful Disney experiment has now earned $103.7 million.
The Upside of Anger finishes in the bottom rung of the top ten for the second straight weekend. The Kevin Costner/Joan Allen drama earned a small $1.9 million this weekend, dropping a small 23%. The $12 million New Line release has now earned $15 million, and will most likely be a force on DVD thanks to its positive word-of-mouth.
Overall, box office was down again compared to last year. The top ten for the April 15th - 17th weekend took in an awful $71 million, well away from the $80 million the box office found last year. Come on summer, hurry up and get here already.