The 20th Century Fox film Mr. & Mrs. Smith may save the 2005 summer box office season, but most likely not until next weekend. Awareness was huge for the Brad Pitt - Angelina Jolie thriller, not because of the movie itself, but more because of the soap opera around the stars’ lives. Traditional huge grosses in summer were not happening with traditional marketing so far this season, so the tabloids took over and netted the Smiths an opening over $50 million. Box office could have been up over last year for the first time in almost four months, but two openers disappointed, leaving us with our 16th consecutive down weekend.
Attack of The Smiths at the Box Office
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for June 10-12, 2005
By John Hamann
June 12, 2005
This weekend, studio executives at Fox and movie theatre owners are thanking the tabloids for a big weekend at the box office. The number one film of the weekend is Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and for the first time in a long time, an opening weekend gross has exceeded tracking and expectations (for awhile there I was wondering if it was actually summer). Mr. & Mrs. Smith pulled in an amazing $51.1 million this weekend from 3,424 venues, 500 less than second-place Madagascar. It had a rock-star venue average of $14,909, and after opening on Friday to about $18.6 million, the date movie had a decent internal multiplier of 2.74. Mr. & Mrs. Smith now has the sixth biggest gross ever for the month of June and is the biggest opening for both Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Pitt’s previous biggest was Troy at $46.9 million, and Jolie’s was Lara Croft: Tomb Raider at a similar $47.7 million. For 20th Century Fox, it's their second biggest opening of the year behind the uncatchable Star Wars, and will be until at least July 8th, when The Fantastic Four opens for the studio. For producer Arnon Milchan and his Regency Enterprises, Mr. & Mrs. Smith does represent their biggest opening of the production company’s 60 or so big screen releases since the early '90s. The thriller not only relied on the personal lives of its stars to gain awareness, it also got some good reviews from North American critics leading up to the film’s release. At RottenTomatoes, 117 reviews were gathered, and 71 liked it enough to give it a thumbs up, resulting in a 61% fresh rating.
For the drought-stricken overall box office, the opening for Mr. & Mrs. Smith is exactly what the doctor ordered. The box office for June of 2004 was quite quiet after Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban opened early in the month, with disappointments coming later from The Chronicles of Riddick ($24.3 million opening), The Terminal ($19.1 million opening) and Around the World in 80 Days ($7.6 m opening). Now, with Batman Begins opening next weekend - most likely north of $60 million - a $30 million second weekend for The Smiths might just put the top ten ahead of last year’s totals, at least for a weekend.
The second to fourth spots in the top ten are a repeat of last weekend, with all three vying for the same position, albeit down a notch. Second spot went to Madagascar, DreamWorks Animation’s star-studded zoo animal comedy. Madagascar grossed $17.1 million in its third weekend, down an okay 39%. The animated flick now has a three weekend total of $128.3 million, and while $200 million looks very far away, there is still an outside shot of reaching that goal.
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith slipped to third spot, but enjoys a smaller percentage drop than it did last weekend (55%). Revenge of the Sith grossed $14.9 million in its fourth weekend, down a better 41% compared to the previous frame. The epic continued to move up the highest grossing list of all time this weekend, passing classics like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Forrest Gump and The Lion King. The total for the last film of George Lucas’s Star Wars series has now hit $332.1 million, and will probably top out prior to reaching $400 million if its weekend-to-weekend drops don’t continue to improve.
In fourth, The Longest Yard grossed $13.5 million this weekend from 3,654 venues, dropping 48%. For Sandler, Yard has a decent shot at becoming his biggest domestic grosser ever. Currently his earlier films are his biggest, with Big Daddy and The Waterboy sitting both around $160 million. The Longest Yard has now earned $118.1 million, and the gross for the football film could finish around Sandler’s high-water mark of $160 million.
Landing in fifth, and most noticeably in front of Cinderella Man, is The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D. Shark Boy and Lava Girl grossed an un-Spy Kids like $12.5 million from 2,655 venues. It had a venue average of $4,709 and a kid-friendly internal multiplier of 3.2 after finding $3.9 million on Friday night. Much like the Spy Kids franchise, Robert Rodriguez is behind this one, save for the story, which is by his son Racer. The elder Rodriguez wrote the screenplay, directed, and did the music, cinematography and editing. He may even have catered on this one as well. Unfortunately, Shark Boy & Lava Girl had a look like it was all done by one person, unlike the Spy Kids franchise. Kids must have caught on, as the $12.5 million open for Shark Boy and Lava Girl does not come close to what the lowest Spy Kids film did over its opening weekend (Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams opened to $16.7 million). However, these films are done on the cheap, with the Spy Kids films all budgeted in the $30-40 million range. With budgets like that, these movies could skip theatrical release and go straight to DVD and still make money.
Sixth this weekend is Cinderella Man, Russell Crowe’s most recent summer disappointment, after disappointing his fans with a phone throwing incident after opening weekend numbers were released last weekend. Crowe’s Cinderella Man did not find its prince in its second weekend, adding more woe to the brute of a star who was famously mocked in an episode of South Park called Fighting Around the World. After opening last weekend to $18.3 million, Cinderella Man dropped hard in its second weekend, grossing $9.5 million, a huge drop for the genre of 48% for this supposed word-of-mouth film. For those still comparing this to Seabiscuit, the horse racing film dropped 15% in its second weekend, not 50%. With the drop, Cinderella Man has gone from disappointing to disastrous, as this one probably cost Universal and partners $100 million to make, and at this point looks to be lucky to pull in $60 million. Currently, the boxing film sits with $34.5 million. As a side note, if any of you happen to see Russell today, you might want to steer clear, as he may be in a nasty mood.
Landing in a very disappointing seventh spot (and could be eighth tomorrow) is The Honeymooners, a title that could have been a franchise, but is now just a blip in box office history. The re-thinking of the storied TV show got off to a horrible start this weekend, pulling in a gross of only $5.8 million from a saw-it-coming venue count of only 1,912. The only good news on this one was the price tag. The Honeymooners cost Paramount only $25 million to make; however, they most likely spent another $25 million on marketing. This one will be lucky to earn $15 million.
Coming in at eighth is The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, a film I thought might be leggy, but is behaving more like The Ya-Ya Sisterhood of 2005. Despite a continued marketing effort, The Traveling Pants dropped hard this weekend, grossing only $5.7 million and losing 42% of last weekend’s audience. The good news for WB and partners is that Sisterhood cost the studio only $20 million to make, and its gross already sits at $23.7 million.
Monster-in-Law finishes ninth this weekend, its fifth weekend of release. The Jennifer and Jane team-up grossed $2.6 million, down 56%. The comedy now sits with a healthy $76.5 million for New Line Cinemas.
Tenth goes to Crash, the summer counter-programming effort from Lions Gate. Crash grossed $1.9 million this weekend, dropping 42%. The feature, which Lions Gate picked up for $3.3 million, has now earned an excellent $44.3 million.
Finishing in 11th spot is Lords of Dogtown, and this one has become the mayor of Dogtown. The woofer dropped a nasty 68% this weekend, grossing only $1.8 million. The skater flick, into which Sony must have pumped a ton of marketing dollars, is pretty much finished, and now sits with a brutal total gross of $9.3 million.
Finishing outside of the top ten is High Tension, which Lions Gate really dropped the ball on. This one looked good, but the only place I saw the trailer was on the Internet. The thriller grossed about $1.8 million this weekend, finishing way back in 12th.
For good news overall, check back next weekend. This weekend’s top ten pulled in about $135 million, not far off of last year’s $151 million. It’s a fairly safe bet that Batman will bail out Hollywood next week.