We knew heading into this weekend at the box office that Hollywood was going to have some bad news come this Sunday morning; the question was how bad it was going to be. New releases last weekend didn't work. The Fog managed a number one spot over Wallace and Gromit, but it definitely wasn't a world-mover. Elizabethtown and Domino were large disappointments (so bad that Domino doesn't even make a top ten appearance in its second frame). This weekend things don't get any better. Doom is this weekend's Fog, and it is joined by Dreamer and North Country, films that look good (if you're a 'tween girl or a rural coal miner), but obviously won't have too much impact on the box office. The result: more of the same.
Another Ugly Weekend at the Box Office; Doom Number One
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for October 21-23, 2005
By John Hamann
October 23, 2005
The number one film of the weekend is Doom, the first person shooter video game that was all the rage in the mid-'90s. The game-to-film adaptation that cost $80 million to make did manage a gross above $10 million, earning $15.4 million from 3,044 venues this weekend. That gives it an average of $5,053, and after its opening day number of about $6 million, Doom is left with a weekend multiplier of 2.56. The weekend multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross) gives us an indication of how the film played over the weekend. A multiplier higher than 3.0 would suggest that the film did very well after its Friday opening, and may play well in the week's ahead. A number well below 3.0 indicated big trouble for a film's producers. Multipliers well below 3 can indicate front-loading, meaning that a large percentage of a film's audience sees the film on opening night, and numbers trail off from there. It can also be an indication of whether a film is any good or not. Take for example video game-based Resident Evil. The Milla Jovovich splatter fest had an opening weekend gross of $17.7 million and an opening Friday take of $6.7 million. That left Resident Evil with a weekend multiplier of 2.63, typical of a front-loaded film with a large built-in audience. Its sequel had an even poorer multiplier of 2.47.
Doom stars The Rock, who was the King of the wrestling world not long after Doom's reign of top video game. The Rock aka Dwayne Johnson has made some excellent choices as to what films he chooses. Doom is his sixth project, and the star has yet to appear in a film that earned less than $10 million over opening weekend. The wrestler started his acting career the right way, appearing in The Mummy Returns, which opened to over $60 million and finished with over $200 million. Since then, he's opened The Scorpion King ($36.1 million open), The Rundown ($18.5 million open), Walking Tall ($15.5 million) and Be Cool (which is really a Travolta title but I'll include its $23.5 million open). Coming up for The Rock are Southland Tales with Seann William Scott and Sarah Michelle Gellar and Gridiron Gang, directed by Phil Joanou.
Second spot this weekend goes to Dreamer, the Kurt Russell/Dakota Fanning manipulator about a race horse saved from death by a little girl. Color me surprised that the manipulative trailer and TV ads didn't sell more tickets to the movie-of-the-week audience. Still, Dreamer grossed a solid $9.3 million this weekend from a small 2,007 venues, giving it a fair opening weekend average of $4,633. It's certainly no Seabiscuit (that one opened to a little over $20 million); however, Dreamer probably cost a quarter of Seabiscuit's $86 million production budget. This is another good choice for Kurt Russell, who most recently starred in the low budget but very successful Disney movie Sky High, which opened to almost $15 million and finished above $60 million. This will be Russell's third consecutive family hit after appearing in Miracle, Sky High and now Dreamer. Next up for the former Snake Plissken are a small role in Munich, Steven Spielberg's drama about the Munich Olympics, and then Poseidon, a remake of the 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure. As for Dreamer, this one should be a big success for DreamWorks, as its budget was most likely around $25 million, it got good enough reviews (65% fresh at RottenTomatoes), and should be a strong selling family title on DVD.
Third spot this weekend is Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit ,which drops only one spot from its second place finish last weekend. W&G dropped only 25% this weekend, grossing a healthy $8.7 million. So far, the DreamWorks/Aardman animated flick has grossed $44 million against a production budget of only $30 million, making this a huge hit for DreamWorks. The studio must be very happy to have the numbers two and three spots in the top ten after three weekends of release for W&G.
Fourth this weekend is The Fog from Revolution and Sony, and it actually held a lot better than I predicted it would. The John Carpenter remake grossed $7.3 million in its sophomore weekend, down an excellent-for-horror 38%. The other good news for these two companies is that The Fog cost only $18 million to make, a figure it should easily make from home video sales. Its domestic box office figure sits at $21.5 million.
Fifth goes to North Country, the new Charlize Theron flick from Warner Bros. Despite a strong marketing campaign, North Country failed to live up to expectations, grossing $6.5 million from 2,555 venues this weekend. It had a venue average of $2,532 and a weekend multiplier of 3.4 – which also helps define Doom's 2.5 multiplier. North Country also reviewed fairly but certainly was no Whale Rider (both North Country and Whale Rider were directed by Niki Caro). Of the 116 reviews counted at RottenTomatoes, 83 were positive, leading to a 72% fresh rating for the film. As a studio, you can market the heck out of something like this, but if reviews and word-of-mouth aren't there, we're going to see a quick exit. Let's see how this one holds next weekend.
Sixth goes to Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown, and unfortunately we'll have to wait another couple of years for the next film from the director of Say Anything... and Almost Famous. Elizabethtown did not hold well in its second weekend. The Orlando Bloom/Kirsten Dunst feature grossed $5.7 million this weekend, off a severe 46% from last weekend. That leaves the Paramount release with a domestic total of $19 million, and $50 million is probably out of reach.
Flightplan lands in seventh this weekend, as the Jodie Foster film has shown some legs in the autumn months. Flightplan grossed $4.7 million in its fifth weekend and drops 27% from the previous frame. The thriller has now grossed $77.3 million, and while $100 million is probably out of the question, $90-95 million certainly isn't.
Eighth goes to In Her Shoes, the Cameron Diaz feature that didn't quite work. The Fox release earned $3.9 million this weekend, off 36% from last weekend. In Her Shoes has earned $26.2 million since its release.
A History of Violence lands in ninth, earning $2.7 million. The Viggo Mortensen flick has been hanging on, dropping only 25% this weekend. The $30 million New Line release has now earned $26.3 million.
Tenth is Two for the Money, as the Al Pacino feature narrowly beats out Domino. Two for the Money earned a not-very-good $2.4 million this weekend, and sits with $20.7 million.
Overall, box office totals are simply embarrassing this weekend. Last year the top ten films earned about $96.5 million. This year, the top ten earned about $66.5 million, meaning that 2004's films simply left 2005's entries in the dust.