On Thursday, the MPAA released their annual report, and it said box office admissions were down a large 9%. I wonder why. This week we have four new releases at movie theatres: remakes in The Hills Have Eyes and The Shaggy Dog, the comedy Failure To Launch, and Johnny Depp's The Libertine. Of these new releases, there were 342 reviews counted at RottenTomatoes, and of those, only 120 reviews were positive. That equals a 35% positive score, good for a D- where I went to high school. How long can a business continually give their customers bad product without seeing a result? Box office is down wildly again this weekend, as the bad movie trend continues.
Bad Movies Fail to Launch Box Office
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for March 10-12, 2006
By John Hamann
March 12, 2006
The number one film of the weekend is the one that is the broadest demographically, and it's also the one with the worst reviews. Failure To Launch, the comedy starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey, is somehow the number one film of the weekend by a landslide. Failure grossed $24.6 million this weekend from 3,057 venues, as audiences were obviously desperate for something to make them laugh, or at least attempt to make them laugh. Failure had a venue average of $8,047, and got started on Friday with a gross of $8.5 million. Word spread as the weekend continued and the comedy finished the weekend with a so-so weekend multiplier of 2.89. From Tom Dey, the director of the Eddie Murphy/Robert DeNiro classic Showtime, critics assaulted this one, with Roger Ebert calling the characters "stupid". On the box office side, this is a win for production partners Paramount and Scott Rudin, as well as for the actors. For McConaughey, it's his biggest opening yet, beating out another classic in How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, which opened to a very similar $23.8 million a few years back and somehow went on to earn over $100 million. For Parker, this is an excellent transition from Sex in the City to films with her name above the title, after a letdown in The Family Stone. After a string of forgettable releases for Paramount, including Last Holiday, Aeon Flux, Get Rich or Die Trying and The Weather Man (The open for Failure equals the box office totals of Freedomland and The Weather Man), Failure to Launch is a nice change. It's also Paramount's last release until Mission: Impossible III in May, so they are guaranteed to have at least two consecutive hits, something that hasn't happened at Paramount since 2004.
Second spot this weekend was tight between two remakes with distinctly different audiences: The Hills Have Eyes and The Shaggy Dog. The Shaggy Dog claims second by a nose, but I think questions will be asked at Disney as to why this one didn't do better. The Tim Allen comedy grossed $16 million this weekend from a huge 3,501 venues, giving it a so-so average of $4,576. Allen was almost finished after a tough 2001 and 2002, where he appeared in three consecutive flops, Joe Somebody, Big Trouble and Who is Cletis Tout. None of those films opened to more than $3.5 million, but Allen was able to make a comeback with a Santa Clause sequel, and somehow fooled people into seeing Christmas With the Kranks. Now we have The Shaggy Dog, whose opening resembles 1997's Jungle 2 Jungle, the equally forgettable family film that debuted with $12.8 million and issued the comedian's decline. One has to wonder if the legs of the other Disney dog film, Eight Below, had an impact on the success of The Shaggy Dog.
Third this weekend goes to The Hills Have Eyes, which had a disappointing debut compared to other recent horror flicks, as this one was a little bit different. The Hills Have Eyes grossed $15.5 million from 2,620 venues this weekend, giving it an average of $5,916. It had an opening night gross of $5.6 million, and a weekend multiplier of 2.76, which isn't bad for this type of film. Hills was different because it actually had somewhat better reviews than other Cheap Teen Horror flicks we've seen over recent months. The other thing this one had working against it was the R rating. Hollywood has recently taken the R out of horror (at the expense of the genre) and has had some big box office successes via awful movies. When a Stranger Calls got off to a much better start ($21.6 million) because of its PG-13 rating. While no budget data is available, we know Hills cost a bit more than the usual horror flicks, as this one actually had some names in it, like Kathleen Quinlan and Lost's Emilie de Ravin. While the opening weekend is a little disappointing, Fox Searchlight has to be happy, as this is their biggest opening weekend ever, ahead of fellow horror flick 28 Days Later, which opened to $10.1 million from only 1,260 venues.
16 Blocks is our highest non-opening film at fourth, as the Bruce Willis film holds better than expected. 16 Blocks grossed $7.3 million this weekend from 2,706 venues, off 38% from last weekend. This will still end up a little bit better than the usual forgettable Bruce Willis actioner, as the gross after two weekends sits at $22.7 million, and could go as high as $50 million. Excluding Sin City, the last time Willis had a $50 million picture was 2000, with Unbreakable.
Madea's Family Reunion falls dramatically again, as this one fails to cross over into a different demographic. The Tyler Perry flick grossed $5.8 million this weekend from 1,812 venues, and dropped a rather large 54% in its third weekend. While a disappointing drop, there is a lot of good news this weekend for Madea. The total for the sequel to Diary of a Mad Black Woman surpassed that of the original this weekend. Madea has now earned $55.8 million versus $50.4 million for Diary. Also, don't forget that Madea cost Lionsgate only $6 million to make, and the film will be at ten times its production budget by the end of next weekend.
Eight Below falls to sixth this weekend, as The Shaggy Dog took some of the holding power out of the Disney dog sled movie. Eight Below grossed $5.4 million this weekend, dropping 47% compared to the last frame. The Paul Walker flick has now grossed $66.4 million, and no longer looks like a $100 million film.
Aquamarine finishes seventh this weekend, as the teen girl flick remains too far under the radar. In its second frame, Aquamarine grossed $3.7 million, down an ugly 51% from last weekend. The Fox film has now grossed $12.2 million.
Way back in eighth is last weekend's number four film, the awful Ultraviolet. The Milla Jovovich flick tumbled hard, earning only $3.6 million, a nasty 60% drop from its debut last weekend. Now the futuristic fanboy extravaganza has earned $14.8 million, much more than it ever should have, and is destined to earn less than its $30 million production budget domestically.
Ninth goes to The Pink Panther, the Steve Martin film that refuses to go away. The Sony film grossed $3.6 million in its fifth weekend, off 48% compared to last weekend. Now, the $80 million remake has earned $74.6 million.
Tenth goes not to The Libertine (which finished 11th) or Dave Chappelle's Block Party (which finished 12th, off 68% from last weekend); it goes to Date Movie. Date Movie grossed $2.5 million this weekend, off 51% from the previous frame. The $20 million picture has now earned $44.3 million.
The Libertine fails to make the top ten as it finishes in 11th this weekend. The Johnny Depp flick grossed $2.2 million from 815 venues this weekend. It had the fifth best venue average, though, at $2,710. The Weinstein Co. film has now earned $2.3 million, and will most likely disappear after this weekend.
Overall, things were extremely ugly again this weekend. The top ten grossed about $88 million, way behind last year's top ten tally at $101 million. Will V for Vendetta help pick things up next weekend? Will the R rating keep it from breaking out? Was scheduling it during the first weekend of NCAA March Madness foolhardy? We'll know next weekend.