Box Office Killing For Bill 2

John Hamann's Weekend Wrapup

April 18, 2004

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The Bride came back to the box office this weekend -- and Miramax made a killing.

At least Michael Eisner has Miramax. After two large, expensive misses with The Alamo and Home on the Range, Miramax, a Disney offshoot, trumped both of those films with a huge opening weekend for Kill Bill Vol. 2. Alamo and Home on the Range cost the Disney folks about $200 million to make combined. How much did Kill Bill Vol. 2 cost? Believe it or not, after the release of the first film, basically nothing. Also out this weekend is the Marvel product The Punisher, another low budget superhero movie that should have taken lessons from Hellboy.

The number one film of the weekend is Kill Bill Vol. 2 from Quentin Tarantino, Lawrence Bender and the Weinstein boys over at Miramax. Vol. 2 grossed an outstanding $25.6 million in its first three days, higher than what Vol. 1 did about seven months ago when it opened with $22.1 million. Kill Bill Vol. 2 was already gravy for Miramax. The original took in $70 million domestically, and a knockdown $180 million worldwide against a production budget of only $55 million for both films. If we add an additional $50 million for marketing the two Bills, costs end up in the $110 million range, and increase due to the length of time between shooting and release (filming started in June 2002). If we guess and say that studios keep about 50% of the profits from a theatrical release, Vol. 2 would still have some work to do theatrically to recoup all of the costs. However, DVD sales for Vol. 1 have been through the roof, selling over two million copies during its debut on Tuesday, so really, any revenue from the theatrical release of Vol. 2 has got to be gravy for the franchise, with much more loot left to score. Tarantino really built Miramax up with Pulp Fiction, and now he’s doing it again with the Kill Bill franchise.

How did the follow-up compare to the original over opening weekend? As Tim Briody reported yesterday, the Friday result for KB2 was $10.7 million, well ahead of the $8.1 million the original generated in its first day. Vol. 1 carried a weekend multiplier of 2.7, and if we divide the $25.6 million gross by the Friday total for KB2, we see the internal multiplier come in at about 2.4. The low multiplier indicates how front-loaded the film is, and suggests that the extreme violence in the first film may have turned some people off (the violence is reduced greatly in the second film). Tuesday’s DVD release of Vol. 1 may still help the legs of this film. As Kill Bill hysteria continues, more people are sure to hop on the bandwagon, so we’ll have to see if Vol. 2 can increase on the overall take of the original. It is a much better film, although critics lined up pretty much according to how they liked the first one; of the 149 reviews gathered for Bill 2, only 21 were negative, leading to a fresh score of 86%. For Bill 1, 199 reviews were counted, with 32 negative votes, and it finished with a fresh 84%.

Second spot this weekend goes to The Punisher, and had it not been such a god-awful weekend for movies, this would have finished much further down the list. The Punisher stars newly-monickered Tom Jane as the title character, and the Lions Gate release pulled in an okay $14 million over its first few days of release. I thought the marketing and casting left something to be desired here, but Marvel and Gale Ann Hurd’s Valhalla Motion Pictures made it work, as the film cost only about $33 million to make. While the start was good, critics weren’t impressed, so legs could be a big question. Of the 105 reviews gathered at Rotten Tomatoes, only 28 gave it a thumbs up, resulting in a rotten 27% rating.

Johnson Family Vacation pulls up in a surprising third spot this weekend, and is actually one of the real standouts from the last two box office weekends. JFV grossed $6.4 million this weekend from 1,326 venues, giving it a venue average of $4,845. The film was down only 31.5% from last weekend. The other good news for Fox Searchlight is that Johnson cost only $12 million to make, would have had a tiny marketing budget, and has now made $21.5 million. Disney, are you listening?

Fourth goes to Hellboy, Sony’s shot at your comic book dollar. Hellboy finished the weekend with $5.7 million, down a hefty 47% from last weekend. The $65 million project has now grossed $50.4 million domestically.

In fifth is Disney’s Home on the Range, which after placing sixth last weekend moves up a spot on the chart, mostly because the choices are so poor for movies this weekend. The traditionally animated feature grossed $5.4 million this weekend, down a manageable 33%. The Disney feature has a current gross of $37.7 million against a production budget of about $100 million – not including marketing. With Easter and Spring breaks behind us, $45 million is a long way off for this one.

Sixth spot goes to Scooby Doo 2, as the WB sequel begins to lose some steam. Scooby grossed $5.1 million this weekend, down 36% from the last frame. The film now has a total gross of $72.2 million, with another $50 million coming from overseas sales. I wonder how many more of these Scooby sequels families will have to sit through. Too many I’m afraid.

Seventh this weekend goes to The Rock and Walking Tall. The MGM remake pulled in another $4.6 million this weekend, bringing its total up to $36.6 million. Walking Tall cost MGM about $45 million to make, so it will have some work to do overseas and on home video.

Ella Enchanted ends up in eighth this weekend. Ella had the lowest drop in the top ten this weekend, as it fell only 28%, pulling in a gross of $4.4 million. The $35 million project now has a cume of $13.8 million, and will most likely be a huge hit on home video and DVD.

After finishing in top spot over Easter weekend, The Passion of the Christ fell back to earth with an expected mammoth drop. The Passion fell 72% compared to its holiday gross last weekend, pulling in $4.2 million. What it did do was shimmy past the original Jurassic Park film, which grossed $357.1 million back in 1993. The Mel Gibson flick now has a combined gross of $360.9 million.

Pulling up in tenth is the other Disney disaster, The Alamo. This one, unlike Home on the Range, is really going to hurt the Disney folks. The Alamo grossed $4.1 million this weekend, down a hurtful 56% from last weekend, and now has a pitiful total of $16.3 million. Its no secret that the production budget on this one was between $95 and $115 million, and I can’t see an American history movie selling too well overseas. Also, Home on the Range will do decently on home video, where the Alamo most likely won’t. All of a sudden, Disney has Ishtar on its hands, and a lot of it.

The other wide release, Connie and Carla from Universal, failed to make the top ten. The Nia Vardolos/Toni Collette comedy grossed only $3.3 million, good for 13th overall.

Overall, box office was down compared to last year. The top ten estimates for this year came in at a low $79.5 million, down 4% compared to last year, when the top ten grossed $85.7 million.

Top Ten for Weekend of
of Sites
Changes in
Sites from
Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 Kill Bill Vol.2 2,971 New $25.6 $25.6
2 The Punisher 2,649 New $14.0 $14.0
3 Johnson Family Vacation 1,326 +9 $6.4 $21.5
4 Hellboy 2,897 -146 $5.7 $50.4
5 Home on the Range 2,735 -323 $5.4 $37.7
6 Scooby Doo 2 2,810 -320 $5.1 $72.2
7 Walking Tall 2,444 -392 $4.6 $36.6
8 Ella Enchanted 1,939 +8 $4.4 $13.8
9 The Passion of the Christ 2,848 -392 $4.2 $360.9
10 The Alamo 2,609 no change $4.1 $16.3
11 The Whole Ten Yards 2,654 no change $3.7 $12.6
12 The Prince and Me 2,059 -652 $3.5 $24.4



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