The box office had a lot going for it heading into the final weekend of the spring season. Openers included a Nicole Kidman/Sean Penn thriller and a comedy with Ashton Kutcher, who opened his now three-week old comedy Guess Who quite strongly. The weekend also had the expansion of the hot word-of-mouth film Kung Fu Hustle, and the second weekend of a horror movie with a huge built-in audience. The last pre-summer weekend could have been huge, but in the end, it was just like the last two months at the box office: slower than expected.
The Interpreter On Top at the Box Office; Amityville Holds
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for April 22-24, 2005
By John Hamann
April 24, 2005
The number one film this weekend is The Interpreter, which thankfully closes out an extremely slow spring season. The thriller, which stars hungry-for-a-hit Nicole Kidman, and Oscar winner Sean Penn, opened strongly, finding $22.8 million from 2,758 venues. The espionage flick from Sydney Pollack had a strong venue average of $8,270. Distributed by Universal, The Interpreter was made independently of the American studio system, with Working Title films and Canal Plus putting up the $80 million negative cost for the film. The political thriller has already been released outside of the U.S., debuting last weekend in many markets around the world. For Nicole Kidman, The Interpreter is her biggest opening since Batman Forever, which opened to $52.8 million, and narrowly beats out the openings of last summer’s The Stepford Wives ($21.4 million) and Eyes Wide Shut ($21.7 million). For Sean Penn, it’s his biggest opening ever, well ahead of anything he’s starred in the last 25 years. His two biggest were The Game, which was really a Michael Douglas film, and Carlito’s Way, which was really an Al Pacino film. Mystic River, after a few weekends of limited play, found $10.4 million in its first weekend of wide release (albeit at only 1,467 venues). For director Sydney Pollack, The Interpreter will wash away two bad outings with Harrison Ford, which included Random Hearts ($13 million opening), and Sabrina ($5.6 million opening). The Firm remains his biggest film; that one opened to $32.5 million, and finished with almost $160 million in domestic receipts.
Critically, The Interpreter started out the week with fantastic reviews, but those began to dwindle as the weekend approached. Early in the week, critics were talking as though this could be an early Oscar fave. However, as the week wore on, voices were raised as to how careful this movie was not to offend, which brought its score down significantly. In the end, The Interpreter managed to just stay out of rotten territory at RottenTomatoes. The review compilation website found 127 reviews, and of those 79 were positive, leaving the thriller with a just-fresh feeling at 62%.
Second spot goes to the The Amityville Horror, and is really the surprise of the weekend. MGM and Dimension Films have to be ecstatic about Amityville’s second weekend. Expected to drop in the 60-70% range, The Amityville Horror held extremely strongly for the genre, as the film fell only 40%, pulling in a second weekend score of $14.2 million. Other recent horror flicks may have opened higher, but had much bigger drops in their second weekend. Dawn of the Dead dropped 60% in its second frame, falling from $26.7 million to $10.7 million, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre fell 49%. Recent horror films like The Ring Two and Cursed both dropped 60% or more in their second weekends. With The Amityville Horror making back its negative cost after its first weekend, a hold like this one will have many folks at what’s left of MGM quite happy, as the film sits with a current total of $43.8 million.
The producers of A Lot Like Love have to be disappointed that their romantic comedy couldn’t get by three-week-old Sahara. After a decent hold last weekend, Sahara finds itself in third, staying ahead of the Buena Vista comedy. In its third weekend, Sahara still held fairly (but it's never going to be enough), dropping a slim 31% and earning $9 million. The $130 million Crusader Entertainment production has now earned $48.9 million, and if it had cost about $70 million less, may have been considered a good gamble. Look for Sahara to get hammered next weekend by the two opening blockbusters, and finish with about $75-80 million.
Opening in fourth spot is the Ashton Kutcher/Amanda Peet rom-com A Lot Like Love from Buena Vista. The comedy, which cost producers about $30 million to make, pulled in a disappointing $7.7 million over its opening weekend from a moderate 2,502 locations. It had a venue average of $3,094 – good at least for third among venue averages. For Ashton Kutcher, this opening is on the lower end for his career, but he’ll probably always have My Boss’s Daughter ($4.9 million debut) as the low point. Reviews, as expected, weren’t great, but anybody looking for highbrow out of this one should have their head checked. For Disney, this is a push; low costs with low grosses – and a lot of upside when the DVD is released.
Fifth spot this weekend goes to Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle, which finishes the weekend lower than one might have expected after two weekends of huge success in limited release. After earning $620,000 from seven screens, Sony Pictures Classics released the martial arts comedy to 2,500 venues – which may have been too many too fast. The result was mixed as Kung Fu Hustle grossed $7.3 million this weekend, giving the film an average of $2,915. Made for about $20 million, Kung Fu Hustle will be a huge hit for the studio thanks to overseas grosses (it's already made more than $65 million on foreign shores), but once again success for this type of film in the North American market is elusive, but gaining in popularity. Its current domestic total stands at $8 million.
Fever Pitch lands in sixth this weekend as it slowly makes it way toward the exit. The comedy, starring Jimmy Fallon and an embarrassed looking Drew Barrymore, grossed a soft $5.5 million in its third weekend. The good news for the Fox release is that the weekend-to-weekend drop is low for the second weekend in a row. Fever Pitch dropped a small 36% this weekend, after dropping 31% last weekend (most likely due to a sorry crop of current releases). The current total for the $40 million film sits at $31.5 million.
Seventh this weekend is Sin City, as the excellent film from Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez is dropping too fast too quickly. Sin City earned $3.7 million in its fourth weekend, down a hefty 44% from the previous frame. The good news is that the $40 million production has now earned $67.3 million at the domestic box office, so hopefully other studios will take a chance on more films like this one.
Eighth spot goes to Ashton Kutcher’s second film in the top ten, Guess Who, with a much less attractive costar in Bernie Mac. Guess Who pulled in $3.5 million over its fifth weekend, down a slim 28% from the previous frame. The Sony production has now earned $62.4 million.
Robots lands in ninth this weekend (but only $400,000 out of seventh), as the drought of kids fare keeps the Fox release in the top ten for the seventh straight weekend. Robots earned $3.3 million this weekend, down a very small 9%. So far, the animated flick has earned $120.2 million.
Tenth goes to King's Ransom from New Line Cinemas. The comedy that no one has heard of earned $2.3 million from 1,508 venues, earning a not so solid opening venue average of $1,508. The Anthony Anderson comedy currently has zero positive reviews at RottenTomatoes, but only ten reviewers were brave enough to sit through this one.
Overall, the top ten at the box office continue to struggle. The top ten earners found only $79 million this weekend, which is at least similar with last year’s $80 million over the same weekend. Thankfully, summer starts next weekend with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Ice Cube in XXX2: State of the Union.