DreamWorks Hot at the Box Office

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for July 8-10, 2004

By John Hamann

July 10, 2004

Will Ferrell and friends pay a little visit to any critics who had bad things to say about their mov

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All eyes were on the Spider-Man sequel this weekend, as the weekend drop-off would help determine where the Sony film would end up in terms of total box office. First place was a given with a lock for Spidey 2; the question was how far behind Will Ferrell’s Anchorman would finish. The answer to that one is: Closer than I expected but not completely, due to a breakout performance by Ron Burgundy.

Spider-Man 2 is the number one film of the weekend, grossing $46 million from 4,116 venues. To determine the drop off, we have to look at the three-day performance of Spider-Man 2 last weekend, during the long July 4th holiday frame. Over the July 2nd - 4th portion of the long weekend, the Sony sequel grossed $88.2 million. That puts the drop for Spidey 2 at 48%, higher than the original’s 38% second weekend drop, but better than the usual summer sequel plunge. What is surprising, though, is that the Friday number for Spidey 2 ($14.0 million) was yards behind the second Fridays of Shrek 2 ($20.2 million), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ($19.2 million) and the original Spider-Man ($19.9 million). Why is a film that set records for opening day, five-day weekend and six-day take lagging so far behind on its second Friday night? Spider-Man 2 set a record for fastest film to reach $200 million on Wednesday on only its eighth day of release. After eight days, the films I mentioned above were between $40 and $50 million behind the total of Spider-Man 2 because Spidey 2 had more of an opportunity to engage audiences over a shorter period of time, like the long weekend, and summer days where many people are on vacation. After 12 days of release, the estimated total for Spidey 2 stands at a powerful $257.3 million; over the same period of time Shrek 2 had grossed $236.9 million and Return of the King had $222.3 million, so you can see Spider-Man 2 has a large edge over these films that nosed ahead only for a moment. However, the drop does indicate that Spidey 2 will have to hold strongly next weekend if it wants to earn as much as the original Spider-Man film ($403.7 million). Shrek 2 took 18 days to make $300 million; let's see if Spidey can beat that.

Keeping the overall box office strong this weekend is the debut of Will Ferrell’s Anchorman. Ferrell, coming off a very funny supporting turn in Old School and a popular starring turn in Elf, could have made a movie about making toast open above $10 million. Anchorman kept Ferrell’s hot track record alive, grossing $28 million over its first three days, a similar take to that of Elf, which opened to $31.1 million. Debuting at 3,091 venues, Anchorman had a fantastic venue average of $9,058 – just behind that of Spider-Man 2, which had an average of $11,041 from 4,166 venues. The Friday gross for Anchorman came in at $11 million (only $3 million behind Spidey 2). With a weekend gross of $28 million, the internal multiplier ends up at 2.54, which tells us that Anchorman was a big date movie on Friday, and then dropped off precipitously the rest of the weekend. Anchorman will not have the legs that Elf did (final gross $173.4 million) but it should be DreamWorks’ second $100 million earner in only three months. In fact, if The Terminal had been stronger, the studio could have had five consecutive $100 million films: Shrek 2, The Terminal, Anchorman, the upcoming Collateral with Tom Cruise, and the computer animated Shark Tale. DreamWorks has definitely turned a corner; it’s too bad their seven pre-Shrek 2 films averaged a total gross of only $18.8 million.

Third spot this weekend goes to what has to be called the loser in a group of strength, although the loser will probably end up in the profit column for its studio. Buena Vista released Jerry Bruckheimer's King Arthur to the masses this weekend. The film had a three-day gross of $15.2 million and has $23.6 million in the kitty since its open on Wednesday. The good news ends there. The film cost the studio more than $100 million to make and most likely another $40 million to market, but won’t make more than $60 million stateside. Reviews were terrible for King Arthur; of the 123 reviews counted at RottenTomatoes, only 37 were fresh, resulting in a 30% fresh rating. International sales will help the overall success of the movie for Buena Vista, as stars Clive Owen, Ioan Gruffudd and Keira Knightley are better recognized in Europe than in North America. After having two $300 million plus earners released consecutively last year (Finding Nemo and Pirates of the Caribbean) followed by a $100 million plus earner (Freaky Friday), Disney has now released 19 consecutive films that have failed to reach $100 million. That streak should end with either The Village or The Princess Diaries 2, both of which are set to open in the next 30 days.

Fourth this weekend is Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore’s anti-Bush documentary. Over the three-day portion of the Fourth of July weekend, Fahrenheit 9/11 grossed $16.2 million. This weekend Fahrenheit grossed $11 million, staying above the $10 million mark for the third straight weekend. The film was down an acceptable 32% - after Lions Gate added 286 venues to bring the overall count up to 2,011, the film had a venue average of $5,469, better than King Arthur. Fahrenheit 9/11 continues to be bounced around in the media, keeping it top-of-mind. Its detractors continue to help market the film - take for example R.L. Fridley who owns a small chain of theatres in Nebraska and Iowa. Mr. Fridley decided to censor Moore by not showing F9/11 in his theatres. However, by banning the film Fridley brought it back into the headlines, and probably ended up helping F9/11 more than he hurt it. Fahrenheit has now grossed $80.1 million, and should have no problem pulling in at least $115 million stateside. The film opened internationally this weekend, after having successful previews in the UK last weekend.

The fifth to tenth spots at the box office were separated by only a little over $2 million, as the top two films dominated the competition. Fifth spot goes to The Notebook, thanks to a remarkable hold. The New Line feature grossed $6.5 million from 2,288 venues in its third weekend, down a tiny 12%. The weeper has now taken in $43.1 million and with holds like this one, could see $70 million in domestic receipts. Budget estimates have the film costing about $29 million, but it's important to remember that The Notebook started shooting in 2002, and costs for the studio to sit on a film for an entire year are not included. For more information on this, check out BOP’s impressive Movieball column.

Sixth this weekend goes to White Chicks, Sony’s surprisingly successful comedy that was critically reviled. White Chicks grossed $6.5 million in its third weekend, somehow down only 25% compared to last weekend. The Wayans Bros. flick has now taken in $57.2 million against a budget of about $35 million.

Anchorman hit the Dodgeball boys in the face this weekend, as the Fox film fell three spots to seventh this weekend. Dodgeball grossed $5.4 million in its fourth weekend, dropping 34% compared to the previous weekend. The Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn comedy has now taken in $97.6 million, and will reach the $100 million mark in the next frame.

Eighth goes to The Terminal, the Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg dramedy from DreamWorks. The Terminal pulled in $5 million this weekend, down 37% compared to the last frame. The Terminal has now grossed $65.3 million in North America, very close to its production budget of about $70 million.

Ninth spot holds DreamWorks’ third film in the top ten, Shrek 2. The big green ogre managed to bump ahead of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, pulling a weekend gross of $4.5 million, down a tiny 23%. Shrek 2 now has an outstanding total gross of $418.6 million.

MGM has another mild loser on its hands with Sleepover, one of those teen-girl movies that are either hit or miss. This one is definitely a miss, as the opening weekend take came in at only $4.2 million from 2,207 venues. The good news for MGM is that production budget is only in the mid-teens (much like the target audience), making it a very safe bet.

A year ago during the same weekend, the box office was being propelled by the opening weekend of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, which was also produced by King Arthur’s Bruckheimer. The top ten movies at the box office last year came in at about $130 million, a number that is very similar to this year’s top ten, which came in at $132.3 million.

Top Ten for Weekend of July 8-10, 2004
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Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 Spider-Man 2 4,166 -48% $46.0 $257.3
2 Anchorman 3,091 New $28.0 $28.0
3 King Arthur 3,086 New $15.2 $23.6
4 Fahrenheit 9/11 2,011 -32% $11.0 $80.1
5 The Notebook 2,288 -12% $6.5 $43.1
6 White Chicks 2,201 -25% $6.5 $57.2
7 Dodgeball 2,444 -34% $5.4 $97.6
8 The Terminal 2,313 -37% $5.0 $65.3
9 Shrek 2 2,142 -23% $4.5 $418.6
10 Sleepover 2,207 New $4.2 $4.2



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