One has to give Disney some credit for scheduling Chicken Little to open the weekend before Veteran's Day. It opened well out of the way of Harry Potter, but is still positioned to reap the rewards from the long Thanksgiving weekend, and what turned out to be the long Veteran's Day weekend as well. After a huge sophomore Friday (this Friday's gross was actually bigger than its first), Chicken Little stomped Zathura and left Jarhead in the dust.
Sky Does Not Fall on Chicken Little at the Box Office
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for November 11-13, 2005
By John Hamann
November 13, 2005
Veteran's Day has quietly become a force to be reckoned with at the box office. Veteran's Day 2004 landed on a Thursday, and The Incredibles grossed over $11 million, with The Polar Express following close behind with a huge $4.7 million. Almost $10 million was spent on Elf and Brother Bear (which placed third that day) over Veteran's Day 2003 (a Tuesday). In 2001, when Vet's Day was on a Sunday, Monsters, Inc. grossed $2.5 million more on the last day of the weekend than the first day. Last week, I gave a small rant on how Chicken Little was going to cluck in its second weekend, but I forgot about Veteran's Day in the US and Remembrance Day in Canada. Because of the long weekend, the box office is remarkably strong this weekend, but it still wasn't enough to beat last year's totals.
So, because of Veteran's Day, but also completely on its own power, Chicken Little is the number one film for the second consecutive weekend. Out to 3,658 venues, the little Chicken that could grossed a quite nice $32 million. It had a venue average of $8,755, and an internal multiplier of 2.8, which was skewed completely by the holiday on Friday. The animated film drops only 20% in its second frame, but is now really set up for a tough fall come next weekend. The $60 million production ($70 million if you include 3-D setup costs) has now earned $80.8 million after only ten days. The drop will be nasty next weekend, but at least on paper, Disney has a huge hit in this one, considering it's averaging almost $8 million per day through its first ten days. The Incredibles was at $143.3 million after ten days, and Monsters, Inc. was at $122.2 million after the same amount of time. On paper, the Chicken Little score so far looks great, but when you look at the influence of Veteran's Day, you have to adjust your thinking somewhat. Let's wait and see what happens next weekend.
Well back in second spot is another kid's flick, but this one aimed at the young teen set and directed mostly towards boys. Zathura is our runner-up, and its $14 million gross this weekend probably won't endear the production to its parent, Columbia Pictures/Sony. Released quite wide to 3,223 venues, Zathura, the semi-sequel to Jumanji, had an opening weekend venue average of $4,343. While $14 million is nothing to sneeze at, it's not much more than the $11 million that Jumanji opened to ten years ago, and that one had Robin Williams instead of Tim Robbins. Jumanji was a word-of-mouth Christmas movie. It opened around the middle of December and had ten consecutive weekends earning more than $1 million. It dragged itself kicking and screaming over the $100 million mark, which in 1995 was still saying something. This one will have to work a lot harder to reach that mark, as Jumanji used Christmas week to push its total above $100 million. Reviews were actually better for Zathura, but it's a different era at the box office.
The biggest surprise from an opener this weekend comes in the form of Derailed, the Jennifer Aniston/Clive Owen flick that took a beating from critics. Despite playing under the radar, moviegoers sought out the stars this weekend and the thriller earned a higher than expected $12.8 million from 2,441 venues. That gives it a decent average of $5,243 – about $1,000 better than Zathura. Derailed was originally a Miramax pickup from Di Bonaventura Pictures (Constantine, Doom and the upcoming Transformers feature) but is now considered a Weinstein Company release. Whatever the case, the start for Derailed is huge, as a film like this could have easily been left behind, but Jenifer Aniston's relationship troubles may have given this one an opening weekend lift. I still don't think Clive Owen is a big draw – yet – but a couple of more films like this one, and the Sin City star will be given more headlining roles (except Bond, somebody already blew it on that one). Look for Derailed to fade quickly, but still be a feather in the cap at the Weinstein offices.
For the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the weekend, Get Rich or Die Tryin' has to settle for $12.5 million and fourth spot, but it has earned $18.2 million since its open on Wednesday, which isn't bad at all. Released to a smaller-than-expected 1,652 venues, Get Rich had a winning venue average of $7,566. Was Paramount expecting the $50 million open that Eminem and his 8 Mile enjoyed? I hope not, because that was Universal marketing at its best, and Get Rich failed to get the critical notices that 8 Mile had. For Get Rich, reviews were downright awful. Only 16 reviewers out of a possible 88 gave this one a thumbs up, leading to a nasty average of 18%. So, while reviews were Glitter-ish, box office was not, which should give Paramount some relief.
Falling from second last weekend to fifth this weekend is Jarhead, Sam Mendes' crack at the first war in Iraq. After opening to a fantastic $27.7 million last weekend, Jarhead got shelled a bit this weekend, as it lost a large 56% of its audience, grossing $12.3 million. The holiday didn't help Jarhead or the other adult films too much, so the Jake Gyllenhaal flick was apt to fall down the rungs somewhat. Still, the $70 million production has now earned $47.1 million, but I think the questionable word-of-mouth is holding it back a bit.
Saw II lands in sixth this weekend, but the news is actually pretty good for the horror sequel. For the second weekend in a row, the drop isn't all that bad for the Lions Gate release. Saw II grossed $9.4 million over its third weekend of release, a drop of only 44%. Again, I say only because this is the third weekend of a horror sequel, when the news usually goes from bad to worse. However, with this one, we have a $31 million open, a 47% drop to $16.9 million last weekend followed by another $9.4 million this weekend. Don't forget that Saw II cost a tiny $4 million to make, so as it steams toward $100 million one has to wonder where this will end up in the most profitable films of all time category. Currently Saw II sits with $74.2 million. Who thought a Donnie Wahlberg/Shawnee Smith film could gross $100 million?
The Legend of Zorro finishes seventh this weekend, as the Sony release begins to fade. Zorro earned $6.6 million this weekend, and also got a little help from Veteran's Day as the drop came in at 34%. So far the $80 million production has grossed $39.5 million, but it has also earned over $70 million in overseas business.
Eighth goes to Prime, as the Meryl Streep/Uma Thurman flick held well again this weekend. Prime grossed a little under $4 million in its third weekend, and after being almost discarded after its $6 million open, the film has now dropped 17% last weekend and 23% in this frame. Currently, the comedy sits with $19 million, almost as much as its $20 million production cost.
Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story is ninth this weekend, and despite its ranking, had another good frame. The Dakota Fanning/Kurt Russell movie earned another $3.8 million this weekend, down only 21% from the previous frame. Dreamer has now earned a serous $28.9 million, and will now will most likely be a bigger hit on video shelves because of its theatrical performance.
Tenth is another big surprise. Despite being at only 215 venues, Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley, managed a gross of $2.8 million this weekend. That's a huge average of $13,041 and the opening gross pushes other art films like Good Night, and Good Luck (11th with $2.6 million) and Shopgirl (12th with $1.8 million) out of the top ten. BOP will have more on Pride and Prejudice in the weeks to come.
Overall, again thanks to the Veteran's Day holiday, the top ten films at the box office managed to gross about $110 million. While a great score, last year had the second weekend of The Incredibles ($50.3 million), and the opening of The Polar Express ($23.3 million), making last year a tough weekend to beat. Last year's top ten earned about $130 million, so the trend versus last year continues this weekend.