The box office had its hopes pinned on the boys from Hazzard this weekend. An opening in the low 30s was the only thing that was going to save the overall box office from falling behind a decidedly weak weekend last year. However, for the first time in a while, an arthouse film solidified the top ten totals, as March of the Penguins finished sixth. Also, Wedding Crashers had another fat weekend, keeping its depreciation percentage slim, as the box office made its way ahead of last year's totals.
Dukes, Crashers, Penguins Propel Slow Box Office
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for August 5-7, 2005
By John Hamann
August 7, 2005
The number one film of the weekend is The Dukes of Hazzard, as the remake of the CBS TV series grossed an estimated $30.6 million from a quite wide 3,785 venues. The comedy had a venue average of $8,077. Duke Boys Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott (well known, but relatively inexpensive), and Jessica Simpson must have hit the teen demographic nicely, combining that group with fans of the TV show, which ran from 1979-1985. As Tim Briody reported yesterday, The Dukes grossed $12.5 million on Friday (just a few hundred thousand off the total gross of fellow TV remake The Honeymooners); it had a built-in, fanboy, date movie multiplier of 2.4, as fans dwindled come Sunday as most figured out that Cooter was right - this movie just plain sucks. Could the Dukes of Hazzard opened bigger? Absolutely. Any hope of a breakout weekend dwindled as Friday approached last week, as reviews were downright terrible, not that the core audience of this one was going to care too much. Of the 111 reviews at RottenTomatoes, only 20 were positive, leaving the Dukes with a downright rotten rating of 18%. The Dukes compared well to other TV remakes; it finished with the sixth biggest opening weekend - fourth without sequels. For the film's stars, this is a fantastic debut for Jessica Simpson, and it's Seann William Scott's biggest away from the American Pie Sequels. Speaking of Scott, is this kid a good bet or what? He's had only one role out of 12 where the opening gross was less than $10 million - Bulletproof Monk opened to $8.7 million. For Boss Hogg Burt Reynolds, he is going to be the star of the summer. After appearing in May's The Longest Yard, which opened to $47.6 million and currently sits with about $156 million, now he's got Dukes which has the potential (but maybe not the word-of-mouth) to reach $100 million.
Second place goes to those wacky Wedding Crashers, who after rising to first last weekend, drop softly back into second. Once again, the legs for Crashers is almost the story of the weekend. The Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy grossed $16.5 million in its fourth weekend, down an indescribably slim 18%. I wrote last weekend how I didn't think Crashers was quite There's Something About Mary, but this weekend's take pretty much seals the deal. Sure, Mary had drops of 9%, 13% and 12% in its three follow up weekends, but those were with grosses of $12.5, $10.9 and $9.6 million respectively. Crashers has had drops of 24%, 22% and now 18%, but those associate with weekend grosses of $25.7, $20, and now $16.5 million. At this rate, Crashers should best Mary's overall gross of $176 million in three weekends, and should be looking at $200 million by the end of its run. Currently it sits with $144.1 million, not bad for a $40 million production.
Third is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which has a better hold in its fourth weekend. The Tim Burton/Johnny Depp children's movie grossed $10.6 million, down 36% from the previous frame. Charlie's total now sits at $169 million, and could reach $200 million. This one needs all the help it can get, as it cost WB $150 million to make.
Fourth spot goes to Sky High, as the Disney movie reminds Sony's Stealth that bigger isn't always better. Sky High finished its second frame with $9 million, down a not bad 38% from the previous frame (I have to wonder if Disney expected any weekends above $10 million). This one had a budget estimated at $40 million, has now grossed $32.1 million and should hit at least $60 million. It will take about $63 million to move past the much more ballyhooed Herbie: Fully Loaded.
Must Love Dogs moves ahead of the dreaded Stealth this weekend, even if it didn't have the great hold that Sky High had. The Diane Lane/John Cusack rom-com grossed $7.4 million in its second frame, down 42% from its debut. While it didn't have the hold of Sky High, it didn't have the budget either. Must Love Dogs cost WB only $30 million to make and the harmless picture has now earned $26.3 million. That's why you hire a TV Guy (Gary David Goldberg) to direct your movie: cheap schmaltz instead of expensive schmaltz.
Sixth goes to March of the Penguins, Warner Independent Picture's new cash cow or I guess, bird. Actually, the $8 million production is already the studio's biggest of their five releases, and it's already beaten an Ethan Hawke film (Before Sunset) to become their highest grossing picture. March of the Penguins took in $7.1 million this weekend, its first frame with more than 1,000 venues. Out to 1,867 venues, the documentary scored an average of $3,821. The little film that could has now earned $26.4 million, moving past Bowling for Columbine for second place on the biggest (non-musical) documentary of all-time list.
Stealth falls to seventh, and boy, did this one get burned coming back to earth. Stealth dropped a nasty 56% this weekend, grossing a small $5.8 million in its second weekend. Destined now to be one of the big, big flops of all time, Stealth will struggle to get to $35 million, as its sits with only $24.5 million. Even with foreign markets, DVD and the rest of the ancillaries, the $130 million budget (plus marketing) is really going to hurt the books at Sony.
Fantastic Four manages to hold on to the eighth spot. The Fox film grossed $4.1 million in its fifth weekend, down 41% compared to the previous frame. It has now earned $143.8 million at the North American box office, about the cost to produce and market this comic book title.
Ninth is War of the Worlds, the Tom Cruise/Steven Spielberg alien invasion movie. Worlds took in $3.6 million in its seventh weekend, down 35% from the previous frame. The $128 million production has now grossed $224.6 million domestically and is approaching $550 million worldwide.
Tenth is the other huge flop in the top ten, The Island. The Michael Bay miscue earned $3.1 million this weekend, down 48%. The domestic total now for The Island sits at $30.9 million, a poor showing against a budget of $130 million.
Overall, we have a very narrow victory over last year that may change tomorrow when actuals are released. The top ten at the box office this weekend totalled about $97.7 million versus a slow weekend last year when the top ten brought in about $94 million. Last year, Collateral finished on top with $25 million, but the box office was hurt by the drop of The Village, which fell 68% in its second weekend.