Five films finished above $10 million this weekend, but even strong holdovers couldn’t break the bad news box office streak that’s been taking place over the last 15 weekends. After a Memorial Day frame with some strong opening numbers, the debuting films this weekend – Cinderella Man, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Lords of Dogtown – all failed, save one, to live up to expectations. Most disappointing this weekend is the movie with the biggest star in Russell Crowe, as his Cinderella Man failed to perform as hoped despite heavy promotion.
Holdovers Give Cinderella Man the Slipper
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for June 3-5, 2005
By John Hamann
June 5, 2005
It was a very close race to the top this weekend, but none of the openers were contenders. Holdovers dominated the box office, as last weekend’s number one, two and three films vied for the top spot a second time. The number one film over the post-Memorial Day holiday is Madagascar, DreamWorks Animation’s comedy about zoo escapees; it grossed $28.7 million from 4,131 venues. In terms of three-day grosses, Madagascar finished third last weekend with $47.2 million, so its weekend-to-weekend percentage drop comes in at a not-too-bad 39%. The post-Memorial Day weekend usually serves up large percentage drops, because theatres over a long weekend are busier on Sunday than they are over a normal weekend. The holiday weekend makes comparisons tough. Shrek 2 opened the weekend before Memorial Day, so its holiday-benefited second weekend drop was only 33%, the weekend after it fell 47%. Last October, Shark Tale dropped 34% in its second weekend, and is probably the best comparison as it was in as many venues, and had similar opening numbers. The DreamWorks Animation stock has seen a dip since Madagascar opened (as it should have; there is nothing here to get overly excited about), but the trek back to the number one spot may help the stock and the final gross of the film. Taking the number one spot back in weekend two may make Madagascar news for a couple of days and raise awareness heading into its third weekend. Is it going to reach $200 million domestic? Probably not, but $175 million isn’t out of the question.
The number two movie this weekend is surprisingly not Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Instead, it's Adam Sandler’s The Longest Yard, which has held very well for what it is. The Longest Yard grossed $26.1 million to finish in second spot this weekend. It had a venue average of $7,182 – the best in the top ten. The MTV/Paramount co-production dropped a Sandler-lite 45% - 50 First Dates dropped 49% in its second weekend, and Mr. Deeds dropped 50%. The marketing didn’t quit in the second weekend, the TV spots continued, going against the usual grain of movie promotion. Highlighting the good reviews and word-of-mouth worked, and The Longest Yard sits with $95.8 million after tendays of release.
Third spot goes to Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The final episode of the saga suffered a bit of a setback this weekend, as it drops from first to third and carries a large weekend-to-weekend drop. Revenge of the Sith pulled in another $26 million, but dropped a large 53% in the process. The good news is that Episode III crossed the $300 million mark this weekend, beating Shrek 2’s record of $300 million in 18 days, grossing that amount in only 17 days. Episode III also passed Episode II’s total gross after only 18 days, already moving into the top 20 films of all time. Revenge of the Sith has now earned $308.8 million, and should approach $400 million at least.
Despite stellar reviews, heavy promotion, and an under-served demographic, Cinderella Man was only good for fourth spot this weekend. A number one finish was never expected, but an opeing over or around $25 million certainly was. It wasn’t to be as the Universal/Imagine/Miramax co-production grossed a disappointing $18.6 million this weekend from 2,812 venues this weekend. Man had a venue average of $6,619, and a weekend multiplier of 3.1. The opening for Cinderella Man is about half that of Gladiator ($34.8 million open) and not close to the Master and Commander opening, which was also considered a disappointment at $25.1 million. For director Ron Howard, the opening is a step up from his 2003 flop The Missing ($10.8 million debu), but about half that of Ransom, which found $34.2 million in 1996. Maybe the easiest comparison is last summer’s Seabiscuit, which opened to a higher $20.9 million; however, it opened on only 1,987 venues – about 1,000 less than Cinderella Man. Why the lower-than-expected gross? Has Russell Crowe lost his bankability? Do audiences not want to see Oscar contenders in June? We'll have more on that next Sunday when we look at the second weekend drop.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is probably the most solid opener of the post-Memorial Day weekend, despite its fifth place ranking. Sisterhood, from Warner Bros. and a host of partners grossed $10.2 million over the Friday-to-Sunday weekend, and $14 million since opening on Wednesday. The teen-angst feature debuted at 2,583 venues, and had an average of $3,966. Most likely very cheap to make, Sisterhood benefited from a built-in book audience and great reviews as it was able to stay ahead of the more male-oriented Lords of Dogtown. Reviews were on the same level as Cinderella Man – of the 87 reviewers that saw Sisterhood, 72 gave it a thumbs up, leading to an 83% fresh rating. Teen word-of-mouth can spread like wildfire; She’s All That dropped only 27% in its second frame and 14% in its third. On the other hand, older-skewing Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood dropped 45% in its second frame. For now, produces of Traveling Pants have to be really pleased with the gross so far.
Way back in sixth is Sony’s Lords of Dogtown, the skateboarding movie starring Heath Ledger. Released to only 1,865 venues, Lords of Dogtown grossed $5.7 million this weekend, earning a venue average of $3,056. While not a huge gross, this is not a huge film. Made by Columbia Pictures and Art Linson, Dogtown cost producers only $25 million to make, so this was a fairly safe bet for the studio.
Seventh goes to Monster-in-Law as the Jane and Jennifer movie begins to tumble. Monster grossed $5.3 million this weekend, down 48% from the previous frame. The $60 million production had now earned $70.4 million, and while it doesn’t look like a $100 million winner, this is still a big success for the folks at New Line.
Crash lands in eighth this weekend, as Cinderella Man finally gives the Lions Gate film some competition in the adult market. The pickup, which Lions Gate purchased for $3.3 million, grossed, well, $3.3 million in its fifth weekend. It dropped 29%, despite losing 361 venues to competitors this weekend. Crash has now grossed a hot $41 million, and will be one of the summer’s big success stories. It should outgross Kingdom of Heaven, which dropped more than 60% this weekend.
Ninth goes to Will Ferrell’s Kicking & Screaming, which has been a bit of a disappointment so far. In its fourth weekend, K&S grossed $2.1 million, down a hurtful 59% from the holiday frame (it also lost 1,130 venues this weekend). The soccer movie has now earned $47.5 million versus a budget of about $45 million.
Landing in tenth is Unleashed, but it barely has a heartbeat. Unleashed grossed $900,000 and now has a total of $23.6 million. It’s hard to believe that this one started out with an opening above $10 million.
Overall, box office is down once again. This weekend was forced to compete with last year’s opening of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which grossed $93.7 million over its opening frame. Last year the top ten grossed about $182 million; this year the top ten earners only grossed $127 million. Why the Hollywood Reporter started their weekend forecast column “This might be the weekend box office turns around” I’ll never know – versus the opening of Harry Potter 3, this weekend never had a chance.