Weekend Wrap-Up

Box Office Rings Up Third $100 Million Earner

By John Hamann

May 28, 2007

Biggest box office stars in North America, Asia, and Geoffrey Rush's living room.

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That's really where the good news ends this weekend. Shrek the Third got dealt a body blow this weekend that I didn't see coming, and I don't think DreamWorks saw coming, either. The entire Shrek franchise has always opened the weekend prior to Memorial Day, opening large, and then following that large opening up with an equally great weekend over the Memorial holiday frame. The first Shrek opened to $42 million the weekend prior to the holiday and then scored another $42 million the weekend after. Shrek 2 earned a huge $108 million over its first Friday-to-Sunday and then followed that up over the long weekend with $72.2 million. Shrek the Third opened to $121.6 million last weekend, and for the three-day period dropped 56%, earning $53 million, despite expectations (based on past performances) hovering around the $80 million mark. Simply put, this franchise is running out of gas (however financially beautiful it is). Without the holiday, this would have been very much akin to Spidey 3's plunge of 62%. However, I don't expect to see a 50% drop next weekend for Shrek; I'm looking for something more in the range of 40%. I still see Shrek the Third having no problem reaching $300 million, but I don't see Shrek the Fourth setting any opening weekend box office records. The shine has come off somewhat, but when your total after ten days sits at $219.4 million, you have absolutely nothing to complain about - especially when the budget for this one was $160 million.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. It was a only a few weeks ago that Spider-Man 3 goosed box office records with a haul of $151.1 million. We all know it slipped badly in its second weekend when it lost a shocking 62% of its opening weekend figure. It went on to drop another 50% last weekend and the bleeding still hasn't stopped. Over the four-day portion of the weekend, Peter Parker and friends earned a slim $18 million. After its second weekend, I laid out a worst case scenario for Spidey 3, and that scenario hasn't missed a beat. The Sony/Marvel release crossed the $300 million mark on Sunday, its 24th day of release. That means that the biggest opener ever drops to a tie for sixth in terms of crossing the $300 million mark the fastest - currently the second Pirates of the Caribbean film is the fastest at only 16 days. Currently, Spider-Man 3 sits with $307.6 million, and it will finish very close to $330 million, a little over two times its opening weekend figure.


The next seven films in the top ten barely edged the total for Spider-Man 3. Fourth this weekend goes to Bug, the Lionsgate release that got forgotten and stomped on. Bug, a horror film I guess, earned $4.2 million from only 1,661 venues this weekend. Bug was not good counter-programming, as it competed with a similar audience as Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Expect this one to do a Casper impression for a few weeks, and then head off to cheap bin at Wal-Mart for the DVD.

Fifth goes to Waitress from Fox Searchlight, an excellent film that would have worked even better had Fox Searchlight let audiences know they were putting it out to 510 venues. Waitress earned $4.0 million over the four-day portion of the weekend. This film has gained a following not only because it's good (90% fresh at RottenTomatoes), but also because its writer and director, Adrienne Shelly, was murdered last year. Keri Russell is likely to gain the most traction out of this film's performance. Once a flavor of the month with Felicity, she's had smaller parts in Mission: Impossible III and The Upside of Anger, but her star was waning until Waitress came along. After a few weekends playing beautifully in limited release, Waitress has now earned a total of $6.5 million, with potentially another $10 million to come.

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