These are dark days at the box office. After last weekend's disaster for DreamWorks' The Island, it's Sony and Columbia Pictures turn for devastation at the ticket window with Stealth, soon to be the next $100 million loser at the domestic summer box office. All of last weekend's openers crashed and burned over their respective second frames, however there are some scraps of good news at the box office. Saving the box office again from absolute catastrophe is Wedding Crashers, which dropped an extremely slim 20% and will definitely be the biggest surprise of the summer of 2005.
Stealth Bomb Rocks Box Office
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for July 29-July 31, 2005
By John Hamann
July 31, 2005
After two weekends of being the bridesmaid to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the number one film of the weekend is Wedding Crashers, the most popular film from New Line since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. After grossing $25.7 million last weekend (a drop of only 24%), Wedding Crashers held even better this weekend, pulling in a gross of $20.5 million, which equals a drop of only 20%. New Line made a shrewd move by adding over 100 venues this weekend, making the film as available as possible. It garnered a venue average of $6,757 - the best in the top ten. Crashers isn't just playing to a Friday night audience; this weekend the comedy had an internal multiplier of 3.4, meaning it's playing strongly all weekend. The Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn film that cost New Line only $40 million to make, has now repulsed two $130 million blockbusters in The Island and Stealth and will gross at least twice those two films' domestic grosses combined. With the fantastic holds, Wedding Crashers is trending even better than the first American Pie film. That Universal release opened to $18.7 million and dropped 28% and 25% in its follow up weekends. American Pie finished with about $101 million at the domestic box office, while Crashers sits with a fantastic $116.1 million already. At this point, it looks like Crashers could become the biggest R-rated comedy ever, as another good hold next weekend will put it on track to pass There's Something About Mary, which took in $176.5 million in 1998. To put it lightly, New Line was desperate for a hit. The studio hadn't had a $100 million plus film since winter of 2003, when they had back-to-back hits with Elf and Return of the King.
Second spot this weekend goes to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which really should thank a crop of weak openers for keeping it at its lofty heights. Charlie got rocked a bit this weekend, dropping 42% and pulling in a weekend gross of $16.4 million. Usually it's the kids films with the legs, and the R-rated comedies are quickly shown the door, but not in this case. Charlie had a second weekend drop of 50%, so after this weekend's drop of 42%, you can see it's working through its potential audience quite fast. Charlie is still ahead of the Wedding Crashers, but the gap is closing quickly, as Charlie currently has a gross of $148.1 million. Charlie should approach $200 million, making it Johnny Depp's second biggest movie of his career behind Pirates of the Caribbean.
In third we have our first opener, but it's probably not the one you were thinking. Showing some stealth of its own, Disney's Sky High proved to be the top new film this weekend, pulling in an opening weekend gross of $14.6 million. Released to 2,905 venues (500 less than Sony's Stealth) the Disney kids flick had a venue average of $5,022. Most likely made for less than $40 million (or even $30 million), Disney has to be thrilled with this opening. With Charlie waning, Disney scheduled a perfect release date for this one, but was probably hoping for better reviews. Sky High received 44 positive reviews out of a possible 75, giving it a mixed rating of 59% at RottenTomatoes. This type of film is certainly not made for critics, but many mentioned that the film is over-the-top and noted that it may fall between kid demographics. Whatever the case, this is a great start for Sky High considering budget and expectations. Also, any opening above $10 million is great news for potential DVD sales, as the awareness will raise the title above the DVD clutter, positioning it nicely for where the money is really made in the movie business.
It was a dog fight between Stealth and Must Love Dogs for fourth spot this weekend, with one studio quite happy about that dogfight, and the other devastated. Fourth place does go to Stealth, as the $130 million film crashes and burns, failing even to meet much-lowered expectations. Stealth, starring Oscar winner Jamie Foxx, grossed $13.5 million this weekend. Released quite wide to 3,495 venues, Stealth had a venue average of $3,862 – only the sixth best in the top ten. Stealth has a lot in common with last weekend's super-dud, The Island. Both films lacked a star to carry such a big picture, both had budgets around $130 million, and both reviewed horribly. Stealth actually reviewed worse than The Island, with only ten positive reviews out of a possible 90 (when RottenTomatoes has less than 100 reviews for a blockbuster, you know you're in big trouble). This is Sony's second big miss of the year following XXX: State of the Union; that one cost between $90 and $115 million and grossed only $26 million domestically. I expect a similar gross for Stealth, which would make the film one of the biggest losers ever for the folks at Sony.
Fifth this weekend is another small surprise in Must Love Dogs, the rom-com starring John Cusack and Diane Lane. The crash of Stealth enabled Must Love Dogs to open higher than $10 million, as the WB flick had a first weekend gross of $13.1 million. The summer so far has been devoid of rom-coms, and obviously, the target audience was desperate for something gooey and nice, despite reviewers telling them to avoid it. Released to only 2,505 venues, Must Love Dogs scored a not-bad venue average of $5,209, about $1,200 per venue higher than Stealth. For Cusack, the opening fits with his recent projects like The Runaway Jury ($11.8 million open), Identity ($18.2 million open) and Serendipity ($13.3 million open). For Lane, the result is similar to that of Cusack's, as her most recent openings include Under the Tuscan Sun ($9.8 million open) and Unfaithful ($14.1 million open). Made for $30 million, Must Love Dogs will easily equal that amount, and could best it by $20 million with little romantic comedy competition on the horizon.
The really nasty side of this weekend's box office starts in sixth with The Fantastic Four. The not-so-fantastic film grossed $6.8 million in its fourth weekend, down 46% from the previous frame. That drop follows drops of 59% and 45% as the comic book flick loses viewers quickly. So far, the Fox film has grossed $136.1 million, and it should finish just beyond the $155 million mark.
Seventh goes to last weekend's big loser in The Island, as the news for DreamWorks only got worse in the second weekend. The Island plunged 55% this weekend, grossing only $5.6 million, an especially bad drop considering the low $12.4 million gross in its opening frame. The $130 million Island has now grossed $24 million, and could be the beginning of the end for DreamWorks as sales talks to NBC have already begun.
Eighth goes to War of the Worlds, the Tom Cruise Steven Speilberg spectacle. Worlds grossed $5.4 million this weekend, down 39% from last weekend. The sci-fi flick has now earned $218.3 million domestically and is approaching $300 million from overseas markets.
Landing in ninth and having as much trouble as The Island is the Bad News Bears. The remake had its own big plunge this weekend, earning $5.4 million and falling 52% compared to its debut frame. Luckily for Paramount, this one cost only $35 million to make, and has earned $22.5 million after two weekends.
Spending a second weekend in tenth is March of the Penguins. Warner Independent Pictures added 83 venues to the doc's run, and the popular flick was able to fend off Hustle and Flow for tenth spot. March earned $4.1 million, a drop of only 6%, and now has a stunning total of $16.4 million, with more to come next weekend as the distributor takes the film to wide release. March of the Penguins is now the third biggest documentary of all time, passing Madonna: Truth or Dare and aiming next for Bowling for Columbine's $21.6 million total.
Overall this weekend, box office was down, down, down. The top ten was just able to keep its nose above $100 million this weekend, earning about $105.4 million. Last year, the top four films, The Village, The Bourne Supremacy, The Manchurian Candidate and I, Robot grossed $105 million. The top ten total last year was about $137 million, leaving 2005 in the dust once again.