Four more new releases hit theatres this weekend, and while Oliver Stone's World Trade Center made all the headlines prior to opening, it will be Buena Vista's Step Up making them follow its lead. Ricky Bobby and Talladega Nights looked to have smooth sailing this weekend after dominating the last frame, but a strong showing from the no-name dance picture gave the Sony comedy a run for its money. Pulse and Zoom, the other new releases this weekend, both proved to be roadkill in a busy marketplace.
Step Up Gives Ricky Bobby a Run For
His Box Office Money
Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for August 11-13, 2006
By John Hamann
August 13, 2006
The race to number one this weekend was very close between Sony's Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and Buena Vista's Step Up. The winner was Will Ferrell and Talladega Nights but it was certainly closer than anyone expected. The Ballad of Ricky Bobby grossed $23.0 million this frame, which is a solid score; however, the weekend-to-weekend drop came in at 51%, higher than expected given the positive reviews and word-of-mouth. Still out to a huge 3,803 venues, it carried a venue average of $6,041, well back of Buena Vista's Step Up. For Will Ferrell, the big drop may not be a big surprise. Anchorman, which was also well-reviewed, also dropped 51% in its second frame after opening to $28.4 million. The good news for Sony is that their $75 million film has now grossed $92.2 million and will cross the $100 million mark next weekend. How it fares after that is still anyone's guess, but a total gross of around $135 million isn't out of the question. With the opening and the potential finish, Will Ferrell is the new Adam Sandler, with only room to improve.
Second spot is Step Up, the Buena Vista film that actually finished ahead of Talladega Nights on Friday by over $1 million. Step Up failed to hold the lead over the rest of the weekend, though, as it finished with $21.1 million. While it placed second, theatres that showed Step Up rather than Talladega Nights were actually better off. Step Up was released to only 2,467 venues (about 1,300 fewer venues than Ricky Bobby had) and had a venue average of $8,538, significantly higher than that of Talladega Nights. Legs, however, may be a different story.
Step Up started with a very strong $8.6 million gross, but faded as the weekend continued. The weekend multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross) came in at 2.45, which means that it worked as a date movie on Friday and then was abandoned as the weekend wore on. The frontloading could also be due to the connection with MySpace.com, where that community may have rushed out to see it right away, leaving few interested over the rest of the frame. It could mean that audiences liked it as much as critics did, which wasn't much. Of the 71 reviews counted at RottenTomatoes, only 14 gave it a thumbs up, leaving the dance film with a dreadful 20% fresh rating. For Buena Vista, legs at this point probably aren't a huge concern. This film most likely cost very little to make, as it stars are little known and production values are very slim. Having most likely outgrossed the budget after only three days, anything else is gravy, so this will be a big checkmark for the folks at Buena Vista.
Third this weekend goes to World Trade Center, Oliver Stone's ode to the heroes of 9/11. After getting off to a strong start on Wednesday, the Paramount release didn't pick up over the weekend and finished the Friday-to-Sunday portion with $19.0 million. Released to 2,803 venues, the Nicolas Cage film had a venue average of $6,430. It was a tough week for the producers of this film. Prior to Wednesday, their biggest concern was whether or not it was too early for this type of film. After Wednesday, they had to deal with audience reminder of terrorism, via the air threat in Britain. Those events may have increased the "is it too early?" argument, and hindered the potential success of this film. World Trade Center had great reviews; it was 72% fresh at RottenTomatoes, with 114 of 158 critics liking it enough to give it a positive review. However, United 93 reviewed even better than World Trade Center and still only managed a $31.5 million gross after opening to over $11 million. According to IMDb, WTC cost Paramount $63 million to make, and after five days it has a gross of $26.8 million. It will need much better legs than United 93 if it hopes to turn a profit for its studio.
For director Oliver Stone, World Trade Center is his biggest opening to date. His last two films, Alexander and Any Given Sunday, were his prior biggest openers. Both films opened to about $13 million, and Any Given Sunday found some modest success, but Alexander was a historic flop. For star Nicolas Cage, WTC gives him some much-needed relief at the box office. His last three films were big disappointments, as The Ant Bully, The Weather Man, and Lord of War all crashed and burned. Cage is up again in early September with The Wicker Man, which will be followed by Ghost Rider in early 2007.
The Barnyard hangs on to a top five position this weekend, as the animated flick held fairly well. After finishing second last frame with a $15.8 million gross, this Paramount release dropped a respectable 36%, grossing $10.1 million. That's a better second weekend drop than The Ant Bully (53%) and Monster House (47.5%), so at least Paramount has won that battle. Currently it sits with $34.1 million after two weekends of release.
Opening in fifth this weekend is the poorly-reviewed horror flick, Pulse. From the Weinstein Company, Pulse grossed $8.5 million from 2,323 venues this round, giving it a venue average of $3,640. Pulse is the opposite of last weekend's horror flick, The Descent, as Pulse got almost universal negative reviews. It was also cheap to make, costing only $7.5 million to produce.
Sixth this weekend is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, as Johnny Depp and company continue to roll toward $400 million. In its sixth big frame, Dead Man's Chest pulled in another $7.2 million, and was off a respectable 35%. Pirates has now earned $392.4 million, and should cross the $400 million mark next round. If it can do it by Friday, it will match Shrek 2 as the fastest film to reach that mark, at 43 days.
The "why was this made?" award of the weekend goes to Sony's Zoom, which flopped badly. The Tim Allen flick grossed only $4.6 million this weekend from 2,501 venues, giving it a sad venue average of $1,839. Obviously, the child superhero genre has been brutalized, and this entry was much too little, way too late. This one will be in the Wal-Mart $5.99 bin by Christmas.
Sadly, The Descent ties for seventh this weekend, as too many chose new release Pulse instead of this great film. The Descent grossed $4.6 million for Lionsgate, off 48%, which is actually better than usual for a horror flick. This Alien-like entry has now grossed $17.5 million, and will unfortunately be a memory by next weekend. Hopefully it will find cult status on DVD.
Miami Vice continues to be tossed to the side, as it finishes ninth this weekend. Miami Vice grossed only $4.6 million in its third frame, dropping 56%. That drop comes on the heels of last weekend's 60% plunge, and now the film that opened to over $25 million, sits with only $55.1 million earned so far. Don't forget that this Michael Mann flick cost Universal $135 million to make, so it will certainly hurt the studio's bottom line when it finishes with only $70 million in domestic ticket sales.
Sony's Monster House finishes tenth this weekend. The first of the three animated features earned $3.3million in its fourth weekend, off 46% from the previous frame. The $75 million picture has now earned $63.7 million for Sony, Hanks, Zemeckis and Spielberg.
Overall this weekend, box office did not reach the heights that it did last weekend with the huge gross from The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, but it was still respectable. The top ten this weekend earned $105.9 million, which is slightly above last year's take of about $100 million, when Mark Wahlberg's Four Brothers finished on top. Next weekend should be interesting, as Samuel L. Jackson's Snakes on a Plane opens amidst some serious buzz.