Wake me up when it's over. The summer box office ground down to its usual turtle pace to end the sunny season this weekend, with the lowest top ten total in almost a year. Another large batch of releases were flung at the proverbial wall this weekend, including Mark Wahlberg's Invincible, Broken Lizard's Beerfest, Outkast's Idlewild and Walden Media's How To Eat Fried Worms. Six films finished within a million dollars of each other, as moviegoer apathy ran deep in this late August frame.
Invincible Just That at Box Office
Weekend Wrap-Up for August 25-27, 2006
By John Hamann
August 27, 2006
The number one film is Invincible, starring Mark Wahlberg. The football drama from Buena Vista earned an unremarkable $17 million from 2,917 venues. It had a venue average of $5,837. Appropriately timed to usher in the NFL football season, Invincible was the only film to finish above $10 million as most moviegoers grabbed their last chance to visit the great outdoors prior to the fall season. For Mark Wahlberg, this is his second consecutive August success, as last year's Four Brothers was a $74 million late summer hit after opening to more than $20 million. Invincible is your typical sports underdog movie, which has enabled critics to get on board, and which may help this movie's legs as much as the subject matter. As expected, critics at RottenTomatoes were mostly positive. Of the 97 reviews counted, 66 liked it enough to give it a thumbs up, leaving it with a 68% fresh rating.
The weekend total for Invincible was actually fairly predictable. These sports films, especially football dramas, have a tendency to finish an opening weekend between $15 and $20 million. Tops in the category are 2000's Remember the Titans ($20.9 million opening) and 2005's Friday Night Lights ($20.3 million opening). Titans went on to be a $115 million dollar earner, but Lights was still respectable with 3.0+ opening-to-total multiplier. Lesser football dramas include 1999's Varsity Blues ($17.5 million opening), Any Given Sunday ($13.6 million opening), 2003's Radio ($13.3 million opening) and 2000's The Replacements ($11 million opening). All of these films, regardless of quality, have shown better than decent legs. Expect Invincible to churn similarly, and finish strongly.
The number two film is Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, as the Will Ferrell yuckfest continues to perform strongly despite being in release for four weekends. Ricky Bobby earned another $8 million this weekend, off 42% from the previous frame. The Sony flick is still out to 3,370 venues, and carried an average of $2,373. Talladega Nights has now earned $127.7 million, which is very respectable for a Ferrell film after four weekends of release. Anchorman had seen four consecutive 50%+ drops after four weekends, and was earning in the low single digits. Elf had earned $129 million, but was still headed towards Christmas, making it uncatchable by Ricky Bobby. Still, this is a huge coup for Sony, Ferrell, and the rest of the Talladega Nights team. Look for Ricky Bobby to take a victory lap with about $150 million domestic.
All the way up in third place is the arthouse darling in the crowd, Little Miss Sunshine. The Fox Searchlight team has played Miss Sunshine like a poker hand full of aces. In its second weekend of wide release, the Steve Carell/Greg Kinnear road movie grossed $7.5 million. That's an increase over last weekend of 34%, as Fox Searchlight expanded this one from 691 venues last weekend to 1,430 venues this weekend. It had a venue average of $5,244. Little Miss Sunshine was picked up at Sundance by Searchlight for $10.5 million, and has now grossed $23 million domestically.
From fourth to tenth this weekend we have six films that all finished within close to $1 million of each other, something not new to late August box office. This order could easily change dramatically tomorrow when actual figures are released.
Fourth place goes to Beerfest, the latest entry into the very strange résumé of the Broken Lizard troupe. Beerfest, a film that could only be released in late August, grossed $6.5 million from 2,964 venues this weekend. It had a not so good venue average of $2,192. The opening for Beerfest is similar to that of Broken Lizard's 2002 meow film Super Troopers meow, one of the funniest meow films to come out in the last five years. That one opened to $6.2 million, albeit from only 1,780 venues, about 1200 fewer venues than Beerfest. Obviously, this one wasn't going to review well from the beginning, so its 41% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes must be considered a big success. Beerfest is a big step up from their last effort, 2004's Club Dread, which opened to only $3 million, before going on to earn $5 million following a ludicrous 77% drop in its second weekend. Will the same thing happen with Beerfest? It's doubtful, but at the same time, very possible. Word-of-mouth will have to be fantastic to keep this one going; if not, a total of about $15-20 million may be in the cards.
Fifth spot (for now) goes to Accepted, Universal's try at wooing the college crowd. In its second weekend, Accepted grossed $6.5 million from 2,917 venues. It was off a better than expected 35% compared to the previous frame, as usually these types of films crash and burn after their opening weekends. Accepted now has a gross of $21.1 million compared to its budget of about $25 million. The Justin Long comedy should finish with a decent $35 million before going on to huge success on DVD.
After falling on its face last weekend, the news only gets worse for Snakes on a Plane, as it second weekend drop does nothing to indicate it will have legs. Snakes grossed $6.4 million this weekend, off 57% from its $15.2 million debut last weekend. This one has gone from bonanza to bust in only ten days, as it sits with $26.6 million in the domestic kitty against a budget of about $35 million.
Oliver Stone's World Trade Center finishes seventh, as a little of the box office shine comes off this critically adored movie. World Trade Center grossed $6.4 million in its third weekend, dropping a somewhat dramatic 41%. Invincible may have hurt WTC somewhat as the number one opener is the only other drama in the top ten. World Trade Center, from Paramount, has now grossed $55.6 million versus a budget of about $65 million.
Step Up, Buena Vista's other film in the top ten over this late August weekend, finishes eighth. After dropping 51% last weekend, Step Up improved its fortunes this weekend with a gross of $6.2 million, and a drop of 39%. This one is going to be a very big earner for Buena Vista without making any headlines. The production cost for the dance movie was only $12 million, and has now earned $50.4 million domestically.
Idlewild, Universal's musical set during Prohibition, finishes well back in ninth this weekend, mostly due to its limited screen count. Idlewild grossed $5.9 million from only 942 venues this weekend. That gives it a decent screen average of $6,055 – the best in the top ten. The musical, starring rappers Outkast aka Andre Benjamin and Big Boi, cost Universal only $15 million to make, so this will most likely be a wash by the time the dust settles. Critics were mixed on this one, with 44 liking it and 50 not enjoying the film at RottenTomatoes.
Tenth spot goes to Barnyard, Paramount's fairly successful animation project. In its fourth weekend, Barnyard grossed $5.4 million, and was off an okay 28%. The Steve Oedekerk flick has now grossed $54.7 million.
How to Eat Fried Worms was definitely a much bigger hit as a book than as a movie. The Walden Media production grossed only $4 million this weekend, failing to make the top ten.
After eight weekends of release, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest failed to make the top ten for the first time. It did, however, manage to pass the total gross of 2002's Spider-Man, which, until today, was the sixth biggest film of all time with $403.7 million. Pirates now sits with about $408 million, and will finish with about $412 million.
Overall this weekend, things aren't very pleasant. The top ten over the August 25-27, 2006 weekend took in $75.8 million, marking a new low point for the year. The closest figure to that score were the December 2-4, 2005 weekend when the top ten earned about $73.5 million, or the October 21-23, 2005 when the top ten earned about $65 million. Look for more bad news next weekend as we have The Wicker Man, a new Nic Cage movie, and Crank from Lionsgate.