Robot Robust at the Box Office

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for July 16-18, 2004

By John Hamann

July 18, 2004 smell something?

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The dog days of the summer are here and surprise, surprise - we have a Will Smith movie opening this weekend in I, Robot. Back when big opening weekend summer movies were of the $50 million kind, Will Smith was one of the big dogs – he had two consecutive non-sequel $50 million openers way back in 1996 and 1997. In today’s dollars, those hits – Independence Day and Men In Black – would have been $70 million openers. I, Robot was set to test how a Will Smith blockbuster would perform in the new era of opening weekends – could he carry that adjusted $70 million open into 2004?

The answer to that question is no; however, I, Robot is set to be a huge hit. The new number one film opened to $52.3 million from 3,418 venues over the July 16th - 18th frame. The sci-fi thriller drew a hot venue average of $15,277. The film cost 20th Century Fox about $120 million to make, and probably another $50 million to market. The opening weekend suggests that amount will be recouped domestically, with the windfall to come through overseas box office where Smith has seen major successes.

I, Robot is Will Smith’s first non-sequel summer flick since 1999’s The Wild, Wild West, which proved to be a disaster for the star. That film cost $175 million to make (more like $225 million with marketing included) and grossed only $113.8 million domestically. After West, Will Smith made two very safe summer movies in two sequels: Men in Black II and Bad Boys II. MIIB was a huge international hit, pulling in about $440 million worldwide (despite awful word-of-mouth), against a $100 million production budget. Bad Boys II didn’t fare as well, taking in $262 million worldwide against a production budget of $130 million – like MIIB, word was not good about the film during its release, but it still managed to do quite well financially. This time out, Will Smith had a great director in Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City), who was the real star of this flick. Additionally, I, Robot managed a fresh rating at RottenTomatoes. Of the 116 reviews counted at RT, 73 were fresh, leading to a positive 63% fresh rating. Bad Boys II dropped 53% in its second weekend, and MIIB dropped the same, so Fox will be looking to improve on that with I, Robot next weekend.

Second spot this weekend goes - of course - to Spider-Man 2. All eyes were on Spidey’s potential drop this weekend, and for the second weekend in a row, the drop is bigger than expected. Spidey 2 grossed $24.2 million this weekend, down 46% from last weekend. The Sony superhero flick was also chasing Shrek 2 for fastest film to $300 million, a feat Shrek 2 handled in only 18 days. It looks like Spidey 2 will come up one day short of the Shrek 2 record, as the film now has $301.7 million after its first 19 days. When comparing Shrek 2 to Spider-Man 2 we are seeing much better legs in the CGI kids film; in its third weekend, Shrek 2 was down 47%, but its gross for the weekend was $37.9 million. Shrek 2 is pretty much a lock now to be the top film of the summer, as its total stands at $424.8 million.

A Cinderella Story, Hillary Duff’s latest teen girl fluff piece and Duff’s latest volley versus Lindsay Lohan, takes the third spot. Cinderella Story grossed a decent $13.8 million this weekend from 2,625 venues, it had an average of $5,257. That’s about where the good news ends for the WB flick. After a Friday opening of $5.5 million, the film fell hard on Saturday, dropping 20% to $4.5 million. The film ended the weekend with a not-so-great weekend multiplier of 2.5 – a number usually reserved for poorly-made sequels. Reviews were nothing short of brutal. Only seven reviewers out of a possible 68 liked the film enough to give it a thumbs up, resulting in a dreadful 10% fresh rating. This one will disappear faster than the $2 million Duff was paid to star in this trash.

Fourth spot features the first of last week’s openers, both of which fell dramatically. Will Ferrell’s Anchorman is fourth this weekend, grossing $13.4 million from 3,104 venues. The comedy was down a nasty 53% in its second weekend, but could still have enough gas to make it to $100 million. The film currently sits with a total of $56.5 million.

Michael Moore continued his attack on the box office as Fahrenheit 9/11 finishes fifth in its fourth weekend. F9/11 grossed $7 million over this July frame and carries on its assault on George W. Bush. The film was down 37% and now has a total of $93.8 million as it continues to head toward $100 million.

King Arthur lands in sixth, as the expensive Jerry Bruckheimer film continues to flail. The Touchstone film grossed $6.9 million this weekend, down a nasty 54% compared to last weekend. The $120 million film has now grossed $37.9 million, and is going to have to work very hard to earn half of its production budget back domestically.

The Notebook takes seventh as the leggy weeper begins to lose screens. The film grossed $5.5 million in its fourth weekend, down a tiny 17% despite losing 199 venues this weekend. Made for $30 million, the New Line chick flick has now grossed $53.7 million.

White Chicks manages to onto a top ten spot this weekend, as the Sony film somehow continues to make money. White Chicks grossed $3.4 million and now has a total of $63.4 million.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story finishes in ninth after crossing the $100 million mark a few days ago. Dodgeball grossed $3.2 million this weekend, down 44% from a weekend ago, and now has a tally of $104.6 million after five weekends of release.

Tom Hanks’ The Terminal finishes in tenth this weekend, just managing to hold off Shrek 2 for the last spot on the chart. The DreamWorks film crossed the $70 million mark this weekend, pulling in a weekend take of $3.1 million. It was down 38% compared to last weekend, and has a total domestic gross now of $71.1 million.

Last year, the box office was quite strong with the opening of Bad Boys II and the second weekend of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Over the July 18th weekend last year, the top ten took in about $135 million. This year, much like last weekend, the top ten estimates were quite close compared to last year with $132.8 million.

Top Ten for Weekend of July 16-18 2004
of Sites
Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 I, Robot 3,420 New $52.2 $52.2
2 Spider-Man 2 4,058 -46% $24.2 $301.7
3 A Cinderella Story 2,625 New $13.8 $13.8
4 Anchorman 3,104 -53% $13.4 $56.5
5 Fahrenheit 9/11 2,004 -37% $7.0 $93.8
6 King Arthur 3,086 -54% $6.9 $37.9
7 The Notebook 2,089 -17% $5.5 $53.7
8 White Chicks 1,730 -45% $3.4 $63.4
9 Dodgeball 1,945 -44% $3.2 $104.6
10 The Terminal 1,804 -38% $3.1 $71.1



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