Despite three films earning over $10 million, including two new titles and a holdover with a drop of less than 30%, overall box office continued to stay well behind last year's totals in what has been a brutal year for movies. New films this weekend included a remake of John Carpenter's The Fog, Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown and Keira Knightley's latest in Domino, directed by Tony Scott. With three potentially powerful openers, it's just sad that the top ten box office titles couldn't push their combined totals past $70 million.
The Fog Rises to Top Spot at the Box Office
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for October 14-16, 2005
By John Hamann
October 16, 2005
The number one film of the weekend (at least for now) goes to The Fog, which was wisely held back from critics until they could see it with audiences on Friday. If you hadn't guessed, the top opener this weekend barks like a dog, carrying a 9% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes. The Fog, from Revolution Studios and distributed by Sony, grossed $12.2 million this weekend from 2,972 venues. It had a soft-for-number-one venue average of $4,104. After opening Friday to about $4.1 million, the PG-13 rated horror flick somehow ended up with a weekend multiplier of 3.0, something that never happens for a film of this genre. Usually teen horror opens strong on Friday nights then soften as the weekend continues. Take for example 2004's The Grudge, an October release. That film had a Friday gross of $15.1 million and a weekend gross of $39.1 million, which leads to a multiplier of 2.6. George Romero's Land of the Dead had a weekend multiplier of 2.4. What may have happened is that baseball playoffs may have kept part of the country home on Friday night, leading more people to see the film over the rest of the weekend. My other guess would be that the estimate for The Fog is inflated, or Friday's $4.1 million estimate was low. Whatever the case, the good news for Sony and Revolution is that this one was made for a song, costing only $20 million to make, an amount the teen horror flick should easily earn from DVD sales and rentals.
Second spot goes to Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The Aardman film is a huge success, definitely different from any of the other films in this weekend's top ten list. In its sophomore weekend, Wallace & Gromit performed admirably, grossing $11.7 million, and dropping a small 27% compared to the previous weekend. We have to remember that last weekend had a holiday Monday connected to it, which enhances the Sunday figure and ups the weekend drops for this weekend, however W&G were still able to hold quite favorably. For DreamWorks, this is great news for a number of reasons. First off, the studio is having a horrible year. The Ring 2 didn't find the success of the original, earning only $75.9 million after an opening weekend of over $35 million (you do the math). Next up was Madagascar, which sent the DreamWorks Animation stock reeling despite grossing almost $200 million domestically. The studio did have a part in War of the Worlds, but followed that up with The Island, which grossed less than $40 million domestically before finding some success in international markets. Red Eye worked for the studio, as Wes Craven's air thriller grossed almost $60 million in the domestic market against a budget of only $25 million. The verdict is still out on Just Like Heaven. Wallace and Gromit cost the studio only $30 million to make (according to IMDb), and so far, the animation superstars have pulled in $33.3 million. If the animated feature is able to hold similarly over the next few weekends, Wallace and Gromit could see as much as $75 million (or more) through its North American release alone. The bad news for producer Aardman Animation is that they had a warehouse fire last week that destroyed the history of the animation company, including sets and claymation for their 2000 hit, Chicken Run.
Third spot this weekend goes to Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown, released by Paramount to 2,517 venues. The Orlando Bloom/Kirsten Dunst romantic road movie grossed a slightly disappointing $11 million this weekend, earning a venue average of $4,370 (sadly, the best in the top ten). The question is, how disappointing is this opening? For Cameron Crowe, if you pull out his Tom Cruise movies, this opening is his best so far; however, Almost Famous opened to $2.3 million from only 131 venues. The second weekend of the Patrick Fugit/Kate Hudson flick came in at $6.9 million, this time from 1,193 venues. Almost Famous never saw the 2,517 screens that Elizabethtown did. In fact, Almost Famous didn't get over 2,200 venues until its fifth weekend, way too late to do it any good. Paramount, in Elizabethtown's case, may have gone too far too early. However, with word-of-mouth being questionable, Paramount's best bet may have been to cover as many bases as possible early without going to 3000+ venues. Unlike all of Crowe's other films, critics hated this one. At RottenTomatoes, Elizabethtown got rocked, receiving only 34 positive reviews out of a possible 111, leading to a rotten rating of 31% (by far the best of the new releases).
For Orlando Bloom, I think we can say the shine certainly has come off. Elizabethtown is his follow up to Kingdom of Heaven, Ridley Scott's historical epic that tanked ferociously here at home, but got some fresh life overseas. That's two back-to-back soft openings in movies that could have been huge for the Lord of the Rings star, and I'm sure he's happy that next up is a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, to be followed shortly by another. For Dunst, she's been in a similar position since the Spider-Man movies started in 2002. After the first Spidey movie, Dunst went on to Mona Lisa Smile, which was a quiet $63 million hit but disappointing given the pedigree of the cast, which included Julia Roberts. After that, Dunst teamed with Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which, despite being the best film of the year, earned only $34 million at the box office. Since Spidey 2, Dunst has appeared in Wimbledon, which tanked with a total of only $17 million, and now Elizabethtown. We'll have to wait until next weekend to know the fate of Elizabethtown, but at this point this $60 million film is in some serious trouble.
Fourth this weekend is Flightplan, Jodie Foster's latest. Flightplan continues to hang on nicely, earning $6.5 million in its fourth weekend, down only 40% from the previous frame. Flightplan has now earned $70.8 million, and seeing that Domino presented little to no competition, it should continue to thrive for a few more weekends.
Fifth spot goes to In Her Shoes, the chick flick that should have continued to roll this weekend. Surprisingly, the Cameron Diaz/Shirley MacLaine outing dropped harder than expected, earning $6.1 million and losing 39% of its audience compared to last weekend. So far, the Fox film has earned $20.1 million.
Sixth goes to our last opener, Domino, from New Line Releasing. Domino is our tank of the weekend, as it grossed only $4.7 million from 2,223 venues. After getting a pre-summer bump on the release schedule (which is never good news), Domino opened to zero fanfare and brutal reviews this weekend, and the effort shows at the box office. This one will be on DVD before you know it.
Seventh spot goes to Two for the Money, the Al Pacino/Mathew McConaughey gambling movie that tanked last weekend. In this frame, Money grossed $4.6 million, down 47% from the previous one. It now sits with $16.5 million, so the good news for Universal is that production costs were low here at only $20 million.
Eighth is A History of Violence, which held nicely this weekend. The Viggo Mortensen flick earned $3.6 million from 1,348 venues. The David Cronenberg flick now has $22.4 million in the kitty.
Landing in ninth is Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride. The other claymation title in the top ten earned $3.5 million, down 47% from the previous frame. The Bride has now earned $47.7 million.
Holdovers in the lower rungs got hammered this weekend. Tenth goes to The Gospel, last weekend's surprise hit. The Gospel dropped 58% this weekend, earning $3.2 million. Still, the project has now earned $12.2 million against a budget of only $4 million. Other big drops this weekend included Waiting (52%), Serenity (57%), Into the Blue (64%) and Just Like Heaven (54%).
Overall, box office has seen better days. The top ten this weekend earned a pathetic $65 million, yards behind last year's top ten totals of $86 million. In 2003, the October 17th - 19th weekend earned over $100 million, and in 2002 the October 11th - 13th weekend earned $90 million. Next weekend we get Doom, Dreamer and North Country. Do you think things will change?