Last year it was Hitch grossing $43 million over the pre-Valentine's Day weekend, the year before it was 50 First Dates grossing almost $40 million, and the year before that was Daredevil somehow finding $40 million. All three films blew out their respective pre-Valentine's Day weekends at the box office, marking it as a potentially huge weekend for studios and exhibitors. This year, there were no big romantic comedies and no young, A-list stars to anchor the box office, just older A-listers Steve Martin and Harrison Ford. There is good news at the box office this weekend, though, but in these days of the turn 'em-and-burn 'em movie release schedule, five films above $10 million isn't the news that it once was. However, it may help to make February a decent month at the box office.
Final Destination 3 Gets Pink Slip at the Box Office
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for February 10-12, 2006
By John Hamann
February 12, 2006
After taking second spot when Friday's box office results were reported, The Pink Panther somehow stormed back to win the weekend. Yes, the number one film of the weekend goes to the remake of The Pink Panther, which like last weekend's Cheap Teen Horror, has Cheap Recycled Classic as its sub-genre (there are few new, good ideas any more). The Pink Panther grossed $21.7 million this weekend from 3,477 venues, giving it a venue average of $6,241, the second best in the top ten. To say I'm surprised by this is an understatement. This is a bastardization of a classic, but an inept built-in audience keeps the open above $20 million, and will keep more Cheap Recycled Classics in the Hollywood system. Once upon a time, The Pink Panther was an MGM film, but became a Sony film after the buyout of MGM and its library. Shot way back in 2004, The Pink Panther was supposed to be released last August, but Sony held it back due to some questionable reviews. After managing reviews earlier in the week, Rotten Tomatoes ended the week with a 20% rotten rating for what Sony literature calls a "prequel" to the classic. What drives me the most crazy is why anyone would let Shawn Levy, whose credits include Cheaper by the Dozen and Ashton Kutcher's Just Married, direct this film? Was everyone else busy? Did he offer to do it for free? Did MGM know they were never going to release this one? As much as I don't like this idea, moviegoers did. The Pink Panther had a fantastic Saturday gross, leaping into first place ahead of Final Destination 3. It ended the weekend with a solid 2.93 weekend multiplier, which may bode well for the future of this film.
In second, When a Stranger Calls has been removed this weekend, only to be replaced with another Cheap Teen Horror Movie in Final Destination 3. Yes, Final Destination 3 is, somehow, the number two film of the weekend, almost equaling the $21.7 million open of When a Stranger Calls in the last frame. Final Destination 3 grossed $20.1 million this weekend from 2,880 venues, giving it a venue average of $6,987 (the best in the top ten). As BOP's Tim Briody reported yesterday, FD3 got off to a great start on Friday, grossing about $7.4 million; however, its genre of Cheap Teen Horror limited its success, and The Pink Panther was able to get ahead on Saturday and Sunday. These types of movies are always front-loaded, and with this one a sequel, the front-loading gets even worse. The internal multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross) for FD3 came in at 2.7, a poor multiplier that tells us FD3 will most likely be a memory in about three weekends. The one thing working for it – and even this is a bit of a stretch – is the fact that it has gotten better reviews than the usual Cheap Teen Horror. Some reviewers (and a majority of teens I bet) have been impressed with the stylish slashings in this horror flick, which may provide some decent, albeit limited, word-of-mouth. The first Final Destination opened to just over $10 million, and finished with a very solid $53 million in domestic sales. The second had a higher opening weekend ($16 million), but lower domestic total ($47 million). Both films also scored well overseas, with the first scoring almost $60 million from international sites, and the second film finding about $43.5 million. This opening is the largest so far for the series, and for the distributor New Line, the key word in Cheap Teen Horror is Cheap. FD3 cost only $25 million to make (only $2 million more than the original), making the opening even more solid.
Third this weekend goes to Curious George, which, in my opinion, Universal forgot to market. Curious George grossed a not bad, but not great, $15.3 million this weekend from 2,566 venues. It had a venue average of $5,969. Here we had a classic character (there are few new, good ideas any more) that had at least a parental built-in audience (although it may have been grandparental). Universal's lack of marketing to anyone over the age of eight failed them, despite having Will Ferrell and Drew Barrymore as cast members. This 2-D animated flick does nothing to prove there is more to feature animation than CG product, as the much-lesser Hoodwinked (with no built-in audience) opened to $12.4 million. The one thing that Curious George has going for it is that it looks like the filmmakers actually made an attempt to make a good movie. Reviews were mostly solid, with 47 reviewers out of a possible 68 giving this a thumbs up. I wonder how that pre-school word-of-mouth is these days, as the $50 million production figure is still a long way off in terms of domestic gross.
Harrison Ford desperately needs to do Indiana Jones 4. His Firewall opened this weekend, and despite getting a majority of the marketing this week, has to settle for fourth. Firewall opened with $13.8 million from 2,840 venues, and had a venue average of $4,869. Ford hasn't had a hit since What Lies Beneath in 2000, and has since appeared in two big misses, Hollywood Homicide and K-19: The Widowmaker. Firewall garnered the worst of the reviews this weekend, pulling an awful 18% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Landing in fifth is When a Stranger Calls, last weekend's number one Cheap Teen Horror. In its second weekend, Stranger grossed $10 million, off an expected 54% from last weekend (yawn). This $15 million film (yes, it was most likely profitable after about a week of release) has now grossed $34.8 million, which means these things will keep on coming. Call me old-fashioned, but a movie that gets a 10% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes should never have been made in the first place.
Speaking of high-quality entertainment, Big Momma's House 2 finishes sixth this weekend. In its third frame, the Martin Lawrence comedy grossed $6.8 million, off 50% compared to last weekend. This one cost Fox $40 million to make, has earned $54.8 million, and had a rotten rating of 6%.
Nanny McPhee finished in seventh this weekend. Nanny McPhee, the $35 million product from Great Britain, grossed $5.2 million this weekend. That's down 47% from the previous frame, mostly due to the entry of Curious George, and brings Nanny's domestic total up to $33.2 million.
In eighth, Brokeback Mountain grossed $4.2 million this weekend and was down a higher-than-expected 30% from last weekend. The only Best Picture nominee in the top ten (we obviously dig quality films) Brokeback Mountain has now earned $66.6 million, against a budget of only $14 million.
Ninth goes to Hoodwinked, which like Nanny McPhee felt the impact of Curious George this weekend. Hoodwinked grossed $2.5 million, down a huge 53%. The Weinstein Group film has now grossed $47.4 million domestically with the CGI-animated film.
Tenth goes to Underworld: Evolution, which hangs onto a top ten spot by its fingernails. Underworld 2 grossed $2.5 million this weekend, and now has a gross of $57.2 million.
Overall this weekend, and thanks to a stronger-than-expected Saturday at the box office, the top ten managed to surpass Hitch's strong performance over the same weekend last year. The top ten this weekend earned $102.2 million, while last year's performance came in at about $98.5 million.