Despite some heat from a 40 Year-Old Virgin and Rachel McAdams this weekend, the box office continued to struggle through what's been a long, not-so-hot summer. The good news this weekend is that we have opener strength from two flicks with no stars; the bad news again is that second weekend holdovers with some decent names provide no backup strength to lead this year over last year. Looking forward to next weekend is becoming a large, desperate pattern that has ruled summer box office this year. However, if The 40 Year-Old Virgin can hold well next weekend and combine with what may be a decent opening from The Brothers Grimm, the box office will certainly win a weekend in the next frame.
Hot Virgin Can’t Save Box Office
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for August 19-21, 2005
By John Hamann
August 21, 2005
The number one film of the weekend is The 40 Year-Old Virgin, which used great reviews and smart marketing to land the number one spot – despite not having the pedigree of a big opener. The Steve Carell comedy grossed a fantastic $20.6 million for Universal this weekend from only 2,845 venues, giving it an excellent venue average of $7,224. Made for only $25 million, Virgin came within a few million of making its production budget back over opening weekend, something we haven't seen a lot of this summer. The opening will make a star out of Steve Carell, known mostly for supporting roles in films like Anchorman and Bruce Almighty, and most recently for headlining the Americanization of the British comedy series, The Office. Also rising up the Hollywood food chain will be Virgin's director, co-producer and co-writer Judd Apatow, whose Apatow Productions also carries a production credit, along with Universal. Previous credits for Apatow include the cult-hit TV series Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. The 40 Year-Old Virgin should have excellent word-of-mouth. Critics loved it and audiences seem to be agreeing with them. At RottenTomatoes, 108 reviews were counted, and only a very slim 12 were of the negative variety leading to a very fresh rating of 89%, one of the best scores for a wide release this summer. As Tim Briody reported yesterday, Virgin opened to $7.3 million on Friday, which means it had a weekend multiplier (Weekend gross divided by Friday gross) of 2.8 – a stellar multiplier for an R-rated comedy. The multiplier indicates the film had good momentum throughout the weekend and that the comedy didn't play solely as a Friday night date movie. For Universal, the red-hot Virgin heats up what's been a slow summer for the studio since Cinderella Man crashed and burned in June. Let's see if good word-of-mouth spreads next weekend and Virgin holds much like New Line's Wedding Crashers.
Second spot this weekend goes to Red Eye, Rachel McAdams' follow up to The Wedding Crashers and The Notebook, and Cillian Murphy's follow up to Batman Begins and 28 Days Later. The DreamWorks terror-in-the-air flick grossed a decent $16.5 million this weekend from 3,079 venues, giving Red Eye a venue average of $5,358. This one had many similarities to The 40 Year-Old Virgin. It cost a similar $25 million to make, and like the Universal comedy, the thriller had some of the best reviews of the summer. With 102 positive reviews out of a possible 122, Red Eye earned an 84% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes. For DreamWorks, the thriller will remove some of the bad memories of The Island, the studio's domestic disaster that improved slightly with some international success. For rising star Rachel McAdams, Red Eye will keep her career moving at a blistering pace. With some good holds, Red Eye could be a big hit a la The Notebook ($81 million total) and Mean Girls ($86 million total), and make her one of the big stars of the summer, as she also appeared in Wedding Crashers ($177.9 million and counting).
Falling to third this weekend is Four Brothers, Paramount's urban drama starring Mark Wahlberg. Brothers grossed $13 million in its second weekend, dropping an okay 39% from its first place $21 million opening last weekend. This was a good bet for the folks at Paramount, as the drama carried a production budget of only $45 million, and has so far earned $43.6 million. It could finish with as much as $75 million in the Paramount kitty.
Holding in fourth despite some decent competition is Wedding Crashers, New Line's latest lottery win. Still in the top five after six weekends of release, the Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn comedy earned another $8.3 million this weekend, as it continues to climb towards $200 million. Wedding Crashers dipped 30% despite losing 211 venues to competition. Its total now sits at an amazing $177.9 million, and will reach at least $210 million.
The Skeleton Key dips to fifth as the Kate Hudson horror flick falls hard in its sophomore frame. The Universal thriller grossed $7.4 million, down a hard 54% compared to last weekend. The $45 million flick has now earned $30.1 million, and will most likely top out around $55 million. Again, if second weekend films could have a little retention, headlines wouldn't be repeating the box office blues.
Speaking of retention, March of the Penguins continues to hold amazingly, as drops for the doc are almost non-existent. The Warner Independent Pictures release earned another $6.7 million, dropping only 3%. The studio added another 39 venues this weekend to bring the total up to 2,102; it earned an average of $3,177 – the fourth best in the top ten. The question now is where is this one going to end up. It's still fairly hard to say, but $75 million is a lock at this point, with $100 million not completely out of the question. It currently sits with $48.6 million.
Way back in seventh is the animated Valiant, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out the distributor wasn't exactly enamored by the product they were selling. Produced on the cheap by Vanguard Entertainment for distributor Disney, the animated pigeon flick opened to a poor $6.1 million, but the writing was on the wall. Disney came up with only 2,014 venues for this release, which led to an average of $3,023. With that kind of release pattern and date, one can tell that hopes were low for this one. Disney also forgot to market Valiant, leaving it to fend for itself this weekend. Horrible reviews followed, making the theatrical release just an advertisement for its eventual home video release. The good news here is that Valiant was made for less that $40 million, thanks to a new animation process concocted by Vanguard, who has a multi-picture deal with the Disney Corporation. Maybe next time the distributor will support the project.
The Dukes of Hazzard is quickly becoming a great example of how a movie can implode after a successful opening weekend. After opening to more than $30 million, The Dukes fell a hefty 58% last weekend, and the news only gets worse in this frame. The Dukes of Hazzard grossed an ugly $5.7 million, down a surprisingly bad 56% in its third frame. Once thought to be a $100 million winner, Dukes now sits with $68.8 million, and will be lucky to get $85 million.
Ninth this weekend is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as Tim Burton's adaptation of the Roald Dahl story probably spends its last weekend in the top ten. Charlie earned another $4.5 million, off 39% from last weekend. The $150 million WB release has now earned $192.7 million and should cross the $200 million mark in a weekend or two.
Tenth is Sky High, a Disney product the studio had a little more faith in. Sky High grossed $4 million in its fourth weekend, off 37%. The $35 million Kurt Russell comedy has now earned $50.8 million, and should make it to $65 million.
Not making the top ten this weekend is opener Supercross, which finished way back in 15th. It had a weekend gross of $1.3 million and has earned $2 million since opening Wednesday. Also not in the top ten is Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, as it fell 63% this weekend, dropping from fifth to 11th.
Overall, despite from strength from two openers, the box office still can't keep up with a slow weekend last year. The top ten this weekend grossed about $92.8 million, off from last year's totals of about $96.1 million. I guess there's always next weekend.