Weekend Wrap-Up for 6/29/01-7/1/01
Ratatouille: Low for Pixar, Big for Box Office
By John Hamann
July 1, 2007
The pre-July 4th weekend was busy at the box office, as new openers rang up over $80 million dollars in new business, and holdovers didn't completely collapse. The star of the show this weekend was Pixar and Disney's Ratatouille, the story about the French rat that learns to cook. The little blue rat couldn't keep pace with his Pixar brethren, but was still hot nonetheless, and is almost a lock to have excellent legs. Other debuts included Michael Moore's Sicko, which, when combined with Ratatouille, gave the top ten two extremely well-reviewed films this weekend.
The number one film this weekend is Ratatouille, the exciting new release from Pixar. Ratatouille earned an okay $47.2 million from 3,940 venues this weekend, leaving this animated effort with a venue average of $11,987. This is the lowest opening for a Pixar flick since 1998's A Bug's Life, counting back five films in Pixar's history. The typical debut for a Pixar flick is between $60 and $70 million, so this is well below the usual for a Pixar production. On the other hand, for Disney, this is an excellent opening frame. Disney hasn't had an opener this big since last year's Cars, discounting of course the two Pirates of the Caribbean films. While the opening weekend score may be on the lower end of the Pixar stream, the legs here will most likely be fantastic. Reviews for Ratatouille were out of this world, as it secured some of the best notices for any film so far this year. Of the 120 critics that chimed in, only six didn't like it, leaving the animated feature with a little seen fresh rating of 95%. Clearly, that is something to be excited about, and I have no doubt that this little rat will reach the $250 million mark these films usually rise to. Last year, Cars finished its run with about $244 million in domestic sales after opening to $60 million, and it only earned a fresh rating of 76%. Ratatouille will have to deal with a busy July as many films will try to infringe on the Pixar demographic. Transformers gets started on Tuesday (and is also getting good reviews), and will be followed by the next Harry Potter film and The Simpsons Movie on July 27th. Cars didn't face the same competition that Ratatouille will, but was lesser of a movie, and still earned $244 million. I hate to say it, but probably the best comparison for Ratatouille is Finding Nemo, as that film was 98% fresh, and had a father-son theme. What it didn't have was massive demographic competition in its first few weekends of release, which may keep Ratatouille from rising beyond $260 million, which The Incredibles finished with in 2004.
Second spot this weekend goes to another good performer in Live Free or Die Hard, the fourth film in the Die Hard franchise. With Bruce Willis back as John McClane, Live Free grossed $33.2 million from Friday-to-Sunday, and has earned an impressive $48.2 million since opening on Wednesday. 20th Century Fox put this one out to 3,175 theaters, and it found a decent average of $9,727. It's been 12 years since we've had a Die Hard flick in release, as Die Hard: With A Vengeance opened in May of 1995 to about $22 million, or a little over $30 million in 2007 dollars. The opening this weekend tells us the same audience that came out 12 years ago came out again this weekend, and the franchise hasn't missed a beat. Fox may have had a bigger opening this weekend had they waited until Friday to release this one, but with Transformers coming so quickly next week, this is most likely an excellent strategy.