What a difference a year makes. A year ago the box office was in a funk. March and April had been brutal, with big disappointments in films like Miss Congeniality 2 (amongst many others). This year things are different. Franchises like the Scary Movies and Ice Ages worked to meet or exceed expectations, and the smaller films like The Benchwarmers and this weekend's big opener Silent Hill also have worked. And while the top ten at the box office failed to crack the $100 million mark this weekend, the box office is still hot when we consider the usual fare given by Hollywood in these late April weekends.
Silent Hill Tops; American Dreamz Flops
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for April 21-23, 2006
By John Hamann
April 23, 2006
The number one film this weekend is Silent Hill from Sony Tri-Star and Davis-Films, the video game horror flick with Radha Mitchell and Sean Bean. The horror flick got off to a decent start this weekend with a $20.2 million gross, exceeding expectations of tracking and the studio. Released to 2,926 venues, Silent Hill had a venue average of $6,903. In BOP's Friday Update, Kim Hollis reported that SH grossed $8.2 million over its first day of release, which gives the Christophe Gans-directed film a weekend multiplier of 2.5, which is fairly standard for the video game/horror genre. It's a better opening than Resident Evil saw in 2002 ($17.7 from 2,528 venues), but inflation and the difference in venues probably make up the difference. Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf) and writer Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction) teamed up to produce a film that the core audience wanted to see. It certainly wasn't what critics wanted to see, as it garnered only a 31% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes. On the other hand, users at RottenTomatoes are the total opposite at 78%. Whatever the case, Sony now has a $50 million film that opened above $20 million and probably won't gross enough domestically to match its budget. Doesn't matter- this type of opening means franchise, and auxiliary products galore.
Number two this weekend is Scary Movie 4, which took it in the kisser itself this weekend as it was forced to face off with a frame last weekend that contained a Friday off for all. The horror spoof ended up dropping a huge 58%, and had a second weekend gross of $17 million from 3,674 venues. That doesn't compare well with its compatriots in their second weekend, as the original Scary dropped only 38%, Scary Movie 2 fell 53% (from a much lower open of $20.5 million), and Scary Movie 3 fell a similar 58%. Often with franchises, the higher the number of the sequel, the higher the second weekend drop. The Weinsteins shouldn't cry too much, as their $45 million film has now reached $67.7 million after ten days of domestic sales.
Third spot goes to The Sentinel from Fox and New Regency, and starring Michael Douglas and Kiefer Sutherland. After the success of Ice Age 2, I feel like Fox dropped the ball on this one, as these two names opened this one to only $14.7 million. The Sentinel debuted to 2,819 venues and had a solid venue average of $5,196. For Douglas, this is his first thriller since 2001's Don't Say A Word, which opened to $17.1 million. Sutherland is currently featured in Disney's under-performing animated feature The Wild. I think that Fox caught on to the fact that this one was a stinker (30% fresh at RT), and killed the marketing budget.
Ice Age: The Meltdown slides to fourth this weekend, and the drop again this weekend is considerable. Ice Age: The Meltdown grossed $12.8 million in its third weekend, and was off 36% from its sophomore weekend. While sequel-itis is definitely in play here, Ice Age 2 is definitely in a better position now than if The Wild had actually done some business. Ice Age 2 still has a shot at $200 million, as its domestic gross now sits at $167.9 million.
Surprisingly, The Wild finishes fifth this weekend and the only good news this Disney release has had its that its second weekend drop is better than respectable. The Wild grossed $8.1 million from 2,854 venues this weekend, off a tiny 17% from its soft debut in the last frame. So far, the expensive Disney production has now grossed only $22 million.
Sixth this weekend is The Benchwarmers as Jon Heder is managing to keep this one going. Still on 3,094 screens, The Benchwarmers grossed $7.3 million in its third frame. The comedy was off only 26%, and now sits with $47.1 million in domestic grosses. Shockingly, this one could gross as much as $70 million.
Take the Lead finishes seventh this weekend, as the Antonio Banderas dance film never found an audience beyond opening weekend. Lead finished the weekend with a gross of $4.3 million, off 37% from the previous frame, and now has earned $29.6 million domestically.
Eighth goes to American Dreamz, the promising-looking comedy from Paul Weitz, which unfortunately flopped this weekend. Dreamz grossed only $3.7 million from a mistakenly shallow venue count of only 1,500. Dreamz looked promising when the marketing started; it was an interesting idea, had a good cast, and was getting some decent early reviews. When the majority of the reviews came in, though, things took a nasty turn, and the satire ended up with only 49 positive reviews out of a possible 108. Now America has voted, and American Dreamz has been voted off the island, and this isn't a non-elimination round. Too bad, but it'll make a great rental.
Ninth this weekend is Inside Man, as the Man slowly makes its way toward the exit of the top ten at the box office. This Spike Lee Joint has done exceedingly well, this weekend in ninth with a gross of $3.7 million. That's off 43% from last weekend, and the movie now carries a gross of $81.2 million.
Tenth goes to our last new wide release, Friends With Money. After not making the top ten on Friday, Friends With Money had a good enough Saturday and Sunday to squeak into the top ten. Friends, with Jennifer Aniston and Catherine Keener grossed $3.6 million this weekend from 991 venues, giving it a venue average of $3,583. It has a running total of $5.3 million.
Overall this weekend, things are still quite healthy at the box office, but not as dynamic as they were in the last two weekends. Over the April 21-23, 2006 weekend, the top ten grossed about $95 million. Last year, with The Interpreter on top, the box office rose to only $78 million.