While there was no excitement in terms of hugely popular films at the box office this weekend, it did turn into an exceptionally close race. We knew it was going to be tight between Bruckheimer's Glory Road and Queen Latifah's Last Holiday. What most didn't realize was that the independently animated Hoodwinked, distributed by the Weinstein boys, would give the new live-action films a run for their money. Movies had to compete against some big NFL games, and the results were on the low side of mediocre.
Hoodwinked Steals a Win at the Long Weekend Box Office
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for January 13-16, 2006
By John Hamann
January 16, 2006
After a very close race, the number one film of the weekend (but only by $100,000) is Hoodwinked, something no one saw coming. Hoodwinked grossed $16.6 million over the four-day weekend, well above expectations, and maybe more importantly, above its production budget. Out to only 2,394 venues, it earned a very nice venue average of $6,942. Hoodwinked is a very rare commodity. It's a CG animated film, but unlike all others is independent, and this opening could rock the industry. How is that possible? How could a film that opened to $16 million have an effect on an animation genre that makes hundreds of millions a year? The average production cost for the last three Pixar films was $100 million, while Hoodwinked was made for only $15 million, as it was produced mostly in Asia, using over-the-counter animation software. Suddenly, we have a film that isn't forced to earn $30 million in its first weekend to be any kind of success, and can be shopped to any of the studios, big or little. Last year over the long weekend, there was a similar film to Hoodwinked in the easily forgettable Racing Stripes from WB. Racing Stripes grossed $18.9 million over its first four days, and went on to earn about $50 million domestically and $85 million worldwide. It cost WB only $30 million to produce, twice what Hoodwinked cost. Hoodwinked is being distributed by The Weinstein Co., their seventh release and their widest so far. Eventually, it will also be its biggest grosser, once it gets by Derailed, which earned $35.7 million on the domestic front. With this opening, expect more independently animated CG product from anyone with a good idea.
The number two film of the weekend - and very close behind Hoodwinked - is Glory Road, which grossed $16.5 million over the four-day weekend. Released to 2,222 venues, the sports drama had a venue average of $7,424. Glory Road is from Jerry Bruckheimer Films, which surprisingly hasn't released a movie since 2004's National Treasure, a project that made almost $350 million worldwide. Glory Road is another true-life sports story from Buena Vista (The Rookie, Remember the Titans) about a basketball team with the first all-black starting lineup and their road to the championship under coach Don Haskins. Last year, over the same long weekend, Coach Carter grossed $29.2 million over four days, leaving Glory Road light-years behind. The difference that hurts most is Glory Road's absence of any type of star. While Samuel L. Jackson might be more B-list than A-list, he's definitely going to get better coverage than Glory Road's Josh Lucas. Sure, Lucas has been in Sweet Home Alabama and The Hulk, but he's definitely not a household name, especially after Stealth, with Lucas and Jamie Foxx, crashed and burned. However, with no big names to pay, that money is either saved or re-circulated into the budget. While no budget information is available, we know that Coach Carter cost Paramount $30 million to make, so Glory Road is no doubt in that ballpark or less. With this opening, domestic box office will most likely be a push, with the spoils coming on home video.
The number three film is Last Holiday, which grossed $15.7 million over the four-day long weekend. Released to 2,514 venues, it had an average of $6,245. Last Holiday, a Paramount film, is going to be another title where the opening gross will be considered "good enough". Compared to other recent Queen Latifah films, Last Holiday opened right on par, but should have better legs. Her last film, Beauty Shop, opened to $12.8 million, and Taxi, in which she co-starred with Jimmy Fallon, opened to $12 million. Both films finished with about $36.5 million, and this one should do slightly better, as the reviews were mixed instead of dreadful. At RottenTomatoes, Last Holiday gathered 85 reviews, 41 of which were of the negative variety, leading to a Rotten rating of 52%.
Finishing fourth this weekend is The Chronicles of Narnia, which had a four-day gross of $12.2 million as it finished above $10 million for the fifth straight weekend. Over the three-day portion of the frame, Narnia grossed $10 million, which was off 36% compared to the previous weekend. Still at 3,224 venues, the Buena Vista release carried a four-day average of $3,793. The blockbuster has now earned $263.4 million, and should finish just short of or right at $300 million.
Fifth place goes to last weekend's number one film, Hostel. The Lionsgate release earned $11.7 million over the four-day weekend, and $9.9 million over the three-day. Most horror films nosedive in their second weekend, dropping by as much as 60%. Hostel fared somewhat better in its second weekend, dropping 49% compared to last weekend. The $5 million film has now grossed $36.8 million domestically, keeping Lionsgate on its blistering pace. Look for Hostel to finish with between $50 and $60 million, although it could get hammered in the next frame by the opening of Underworld 2.
Sixth goes to Fun With Dick and Jane, the Jim Carrey/Tea Leoni comedy. Dick and Jane grossed $10.3 million over the four-day weekend, and $8.7 million over the three-day period. That equals a drop of 27% for the Sony feature when comparing three-day weekends. After four weekends of release, Dick and Jane has now earned $94.2 million. While this one should cross the $100 million mark next weekend, that's what it cost to make, so Sony will have to look for big international grosses and success on home video.
Way back in seventh is King Kong, which limped over the $200 million mark this weekend. Kong grossed $9.2 million over the four-day weekend, and $7.5 million over the three-day. Still on 2,814 venues, the big ape from Universal drew a four-day average of $3,269. Peter Jackson's mega-project now sits with $204.7 million domestically, and is approaching $500 million worldwide. While this will end up a huge win for Universal, it could have been, well, more huge.
Eighth goes to our last opener, Tristan and Isolde from 20th Century Fox. Held back for more than a year, Tristan and Isolde didn't get off to an auspicious start. The period romance earned only $7.9 million over the four days from a slight 1,845 venues. It managed a venue average of $4,254. From Waterworld's Kevin Reynolds, mixed reviews and poor marketing killed this romance. At RottenTomatoes, 80 reviews were counted and a whopping 55 were negative, leading to a quite rotten score of 31%, which will make this one a memory in about a week.
Despite adding 200 venues to Brokeback Mountain's venue count, Focus Features failed to lift their Oscar entry above the lower rungs of the top ten films. Brokeback earned $7.1 million from 683 venues this weekend, good for an average of $10,329. The three-day take of $5.8 million was right on par with last weekend's gross, up about 1%. The Golden Globes tonight could breathe some new life into Brokeback's run as it's up for seven awards. Currently, the cowboy love story that cost Focus $14 million to make has now earned $32.1 million.
Tenth is Cheaper by the Dozen 2, which fell a whopping five spots this weekend. The Steve Martin comedy grossed $6.8 million over the four-day weekend from 2,773 venues. The Fox film has now earned $74.6 million, and will finish well behind the $138.6 million the original made.
Overall, totals for both the three-day and four-day portions of the weekend were well off last year. Over the MLK weekend in 2005, Coach Carter led the top ten to a four-day overall gross of about $136 million. This weekend the top ten over the four-day weekend took in about $114 million. However, note that 19 films grossed more than $2 million over the long weekend. Last year, only 13 films reached that total.