Weekend Wrap-Up

Ultimate Bourne Sends Simpsons Packing

ByJohn Hamann

August 5, 2007

Matt Damon discovers the glory of scotch tape.

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Another wild weekend at the box office has come and gone, as we have another third in a franchise film dominating the overall box office. This weekend's three-quel, The Bourne Ultimatum, got off to an excellent start, leading the box office to another big win over last year. Last weekend's champ, The Simpsons Movie, got dealt a death blow, as did newcomers Bratz and Hot Rod. However, thanks to Jason Bourne, this is a time to celebrate if you are a theater owner.

The number one film of the weekend is The Bourne Ultimatum, as Matt Damon scores another huge win as super spy Jason Bourne. The Universal flick grossed an awesome $70.2 million over its first three days, a figure earned from 3,660 venues. It had a theater average of $19,175.

The Bourne franchise has steadily seen its fortunes increase over its respective opening weekends. The first film, The Bourne Identity, opened to $27.1 million in June of 2002, and never saw the number one position at the box office throughout its run. During its opening weekend, it faced off against the first Scooby-Doo movie, and was trounced badly as Scoob and the gang earned over $54 million that frame. The Bourne Identity finished with about $121.5 million domestically, against a production budget of about $60 million. The second film, The Bourne Supremacy, opened to $52.5 million in late July of 2004, and went on to earn about $176 million (and another $100 million from foreign shores), against a production budget of $80 million. For The Bourne Supremacy, the stakes were even higher with a budget of about $125 million, but as a growing franchise with the same director and stars aboard, Universal would have to be crazy not to get this moving forward. The result is bliss for the studio, as the opening weekend is excellent for the first weekend in August, as it beats Rush Hour 2 ($67.4 million) for the biggest August opening ever.


What may be even better news for Universal is the passionate welcome that critics are giving The Bourne Ultimatum and its director Paul Greengrass. This Bourne was super-fresh, with a sizzling 120 positive reviews out of a possible 128. That's an astounding 94% fresh, and joins what seems to be an endless list of well-reviewed summer films, something so unusual that I feel like I'm living an episode of the Twilight Zone. The Bourne films have reviewed well, but not this well. The Bourne Identity, from Go director Doug Liman, earned a fresh rating of 83%, but at that point director Paul Greengrass took over the franchise, adding his frenetic style to a similarly frenetic main character. The Bourne Supremacy earned a fresh rating of 82%, but set up the franchise for a home run with the third film. Paul Greengrass is quickly becoming a director to watch, as his United 93 was fantastic, as was Bloody Sunday, a docudrama from 2002 that earned a 92% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes.

For Universal, The Bourne Supremacy will take some of the pain away that Evan Almighty ($200 million budget, $97 million gross) caused the studio. The Bourne success joins Knocked Up in Universal's successful summer, as that film cost the studio about $30 million and has raked in almost $150 million domestically. Universal's other release, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, is also heading for $100 million. The other winner here is of course Matt Damon, who has already had a $100 million plus film this summer in Ocean's Thirteen (earning about $115 million domestic). Next up for Damon is a non-lead role in Margaret, from You Can Count On Me's Kenneth Lonergan.

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