While the calendar disagrees, Labor Day weekend has traditionally marked the end of the summer box office campaign. The first Friday of the fall proves this with box office receipts best described as pathetic.
Friday Box Office Analysis
By David Mumpower
September 9, 2006
The Covenant, a teen-marketed supernatural action thriller, is the big winner this weekend in the same way that winning a free lotto ticket makes a lottery player a winner. Its meager take of $3.2 million makes it the strongest earner on Friday by almost 70%. Yes, that is every bit as sad as it sounds. Even worse, The Covenant is certain to be front-loaded, meaning that the number one film this weekend is likely to have a tally around $8.2 million. Welcome to fall, folks.
The second best opener this weekend is Hollywoodland, our #3 selection in the BOP 25 of Fall. Apparently, North American audiences were less excited by the premise than our staff was. The murder (?) mystery managed a paltry $1.9 million on its first day. Using Friday's box office as an extrapolation tool, we are looking at a $6.1 million weekend. Even allowing for the modest venue count of 1,548, this is still only a per-venue average of under $4,000. Obviously, even with a selective release targeting the strongest potential markets, Hollywoodland simply lacked for mass audiences. Make no mistake on the point. BOP is very disappointed in all of you.
The Protector aka Tom Yum Goong failed to kick the crap out of the competition, earning only $1.8 million. The good news for Tony Jaa fans is that The Protector is likely to make as much in its opening weekend, let's say $4.6 million, as Jaa's breakout movie, Ong Bak, made in its total North American run. The Protector is already an international phenomenon and while the $8 million budget is one of the largest ever in Thailand, it's considered miniscule here. The Weinstein Company acquired North American distribution rights in a savvy transaction with an eye toward its DVD release. Back in May, the fledgling company announced a new arm, Dragon Dynasty. This DVD label is designed to handle all of the Asian martial arts releases the company has acquired. The Proctector and Ong Bak 2 were two of the initial titles mentioned as linchpins of Dragon Dynasty, a strong indicator that any money made in theaters is gravy while the studio continues to build Jaa's reputation in the western hemisphere.
Adding to the humdrum nature of the weekend are the mediocre performances of two of last weekend's openings. Crank fell 58% to $1.4 million while The Wicker Man fell 56% to $1.2 million. It's one thing for films with $40 million openings to fall this amount in weekend two. It's something else altogether for films with weaker first Fridays to still get wiped out on day eight. Crossover, a blip on the box office radar last weekend, has disappeared altogether as expected. The only title that showed any staying power on Friday was The Illusionist, earning $1.3 million. This is a Friday-to-Friday decline of 20% in actual box office and 40% in terms of per-venue average, a very solid showing. The Illusionist should wind up with $4.5 million for the weekend, making it the "hit" of early Fall thus far.