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Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for November 12-14, 2004

By John Hamann

November 14, 2004

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Estimates were right on target for the most part this week, but after an exceptionally close race for fourth, we do have an order change.

The Incredibles estimate of $51.0 million did get downgraded to $50.3 million, however that does not bring the weekend to weekend drop above 30%. Newcomer The Polar Express came in at an actual $23.3 million compared to yesterday's estimate of $23.5 million. In third, After the Sunset moved to $11.1 million versus the estimate of $11.5 million.

The big change comes as Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason was downgraded to fifth spot, with an actual weekend number of $8.7 million versus the estimated $8.9 million. That slight drop let Seed of Chucky move up a spot to 4th, but its estimate of $8.8 milllion remained there.

While the column below continues to reflect weekend estimates, the column at the bottom has been updated to show actual figures.


Much has been made about the box office showdown between Pixar’s The Incredibles and Tom Hanks’ The Polar Express, however, that showdown wasn’t as close as previously thought. The true showdown this weekend came between the other big openers this weekend. The battle was for third as Pierce Brosnan, Chucky and Bridget Jones duked it out for a top five spot. Overall, six films finished above $8 million, giving the top ten at the box office its best score since July.

The number one film this weekend - for the second frame in a row - is Pixar’s The Incredibles. After a fantastic $70.5 million opening weekend, the bottom was really going to have to fall out of The Incredibles’ success for The Polar Express to take the top spot. It didn’t, and the CGI-animated superhero film is a repeat champion, as it grossed a very powerful $51 million from 3,933 venues this weekend. The $90 million film had a venue average of $12,979. The second weekend drop comes in at only 28%, which is a record in itself, but one that probably won’t be widely reported. The Incredibles has the lowest second weekend drop ever for a film with an opening three days above $70 million. Before The Incredibles came along, the lowest second frame drop for a $70+ million opener (there are 15) was 30%, with the record belonging to Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, last winter’s top dog. ROTK had an opening weekend of $72.3 million and dropped a slim 30% in its second frame, followed by a large 44% drop the next weekend. I don’t see The Incredibles falling that much next weekend. Runners up included Shrek 2 at a 33.2% drop, followed by Finding Nemo at 33.7%. Monsters, Inc., which didn’t open above $70 million, dropped only 27% in its second weekend. However, in its third weekend, Monsters was forced to face-off with the first Harry Potter movie, and lost 50%. Again, I don’t see that happening with The Incredibles versus SpongeBob SquarePants, so look for the superhero family to easily outgross Monsters Inc.’s $255.9 million finish. The big second weekend for The Incredibles almost guarantees a $300 million finish, but before we certify it as that level hit, let’s wait and see what happens next weekend. Whatever the case, Pixar has a great entity in The Incredibles, one that seems primed for sequels, TV spin-offs and direct-to-video specials. Brad Bird and the Pixar team could have their biggest hit yet with this one, putting pressure on the team working on Cars, Pixar’s follow-up to The Incredibles. Currently, the total for The Incredibles stands at $144.1 million, as the film crossed the $100 million mark on Friday, its eighth day of release.

Second spot this weekend goes to the first of four openers, The Polar Express. The WB release got off to a decent but not rock-star opening of $23.5 million. The Christmas flick starring Tom Hanks in a handful of roles opened on Wednesday at 3,650 venues - quite wide considering The Incredibles is on almost 4,000 screens and After The Sunset and Seed of Chucky take up almost 5,000 more. The Polar Express had an opening weekend venue average of $6,438, again, probably not the average Warner Brothers and Playtone (Hanks’ production company) were looking for. Is The Polar Express, with its reported $165 million production budget, going to be considered a disappointment? Not yet. If the film chucks large next weekend, WB could have a mess on its hands, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Surprisingly, reviews were not of the stellar variety. At RottenTomatoes, the results are almost shocking. Of the 138 reviews counted, only 79 are fresh, leading to a rotten rating of 57% (65% or less equals a rotten rating). The best word to encapsulate the reviews is mixed, as notices were of the ‘love it or hate it’ variety. Reviewers, much like BOP’s David Mumpower and Kim Hollis, had trouble getting by the features of the animated humans, and more than one reviewer referred to the dead eyes in the characters. Still, none of this is going to matter to the eventual success of this film. The folks that greenlighted the project were quite smart; The Polar Express will play nicely leading up to Christmas 2004, a la Elf. It will probably find its way into stockings next year, and over the years to come, people will watch their DVD or catch it on TV. This film will literally play forever, becoming one of those titles (Grinch) that people go back to year after year. Since its Wednesday opening, The Polar Express has amassed $30.8 million. Check back next weekend to see how this one performs versus week three of The Incredibles and the opening frame of SpongeBob SquarePants.

The battle for third spot this weekend was a showdown between a heist film with almost 3,000 venues, and a sequel with 500 venues. The winner was the New Line film After the Sunset, the poorly-marketed thriller starring Pierce Brosnan, Woody Harrelson, and Salma Hayek. After the Sunset brought in $11.5 million this weekend from 2,819 venues, picking up an average of $4,079. The production budget of Sunset is estimated at around $60 million, so this Brett Ratner film is going to have to be touched by god to reach its estimated production budget. Reviews were horrid: of the 91 reviews counted at RT, only 16 were positive, leading to an extremely negative rating of 18%. The biggest mistake here is from distributor New Line. After the Sunset should have had a different release date – in either August or February, so it could have avoided the rush of the busy November movie season. It seems that if you’re not unique in November, your movie is finished.

Fourth this weekend is another head scratcher, the ‘word-of-mouth’ release of the sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Released in only 530 venues, Bridget succeeded nicely, but Universal’s strategy could end up costing them. The Edge of Reason grossed $8.9 million this weekend and had an extremely strong venue average of $16,705 ($4,000 better than The Incredibles). For a word-of-mouth platform release, one might think reviews would be good, but they are definitely not. So far at RT, 95 reviews have been counted and only a slight 27 were positive, leading to a very rotten rating of 28%. The first film was much more liked, as it carries a 75% fresh rating at the review compilation Web site. Every time I see a clip for this movie, it’s the same two males who vied for Bridget’s heart the first time around, and just like the first film, they are fighting around a fountain, so my first question is whether there’s anything new here or not. The good news for Universal is that their $70 million film has $9 million in the bank before it has a wide release; the bad news is that potentially poor word-of-mouth is already out there in urban markets. The Edge of Reason will be a very interesting entry to watch next weekend, when it expands to 1,800 plus venues.

Finishing in a disappointing fifth spot this weekend is Rogue Pictures’ Seed of Chucky. Was another Chucky movie really necessary? Viewers voted with their wallets this weekend, and the answer seems to be no, as Seed of Chucky grossed a lower than expected $8.8 million. Chucky was released to 2,061 venues this weekend and the horror flick earned a decent venue average of $4,253. Probably the best news here is that we most likely won’t see another theatrical Chucky, as this one will be banished from theatres by the end of November. The production budget for Seed came in at around $30 million and it looks like foreign rights have been sold off, so no one should get offed financially by Chucky.

Universal’s Ray takes sixth spot this weekend, as a busy marketplace can’t stop this great film. Ray grossed another $8.4 million in its third weekend from 2,474 venues. The biopic dropped 39%, and had a venue average of $3,379. Ray’s total has hit $52.5 million

The very popular Grudge with Sarah Michelle Gellar finishes seventh this weekend, as one of the big surprises of 2004 continues to perform admirably after four weekends of release. Despite losing 520 venues over a busy weekend, The Grudge still held decently, grossing $7.1 million from 2,816 venues. The Grudge was down 44% from its $12.7 million gross last weekend, and now has grossed a remarkable $99.3 million versus a production budget of only $10 million. Look for at least $125 million before The Grudge has had the last word.

Eighth is Saw, as the low-budget horror flick got the big buzz cut this weekend. By far the grittiest film in play this November weekend, Saw grossed $6.4 million from 2,467 venues. Down 42%, Saw and The Grudge were hurt by Seed of Chucky and the distance from Halloween. It’s of no matter, as the $1.3 million feature has now grossed an outstanding $45.7 million.

Ninth and tenth go to the romantic comedies left in the dust by Bridget Jones. Shall We Dance? grossed $4.1 million this weekend, down 28% and carrying a cume of $48.7 million. Alfie got the tenth spot, grossing $2.8 million. Down a nasty 55% through its second weekend, the Jude Law film has now grossed a weak $11.1 million.

In limited arthouse release this weekend, two films got off to a fabulous start, while the other platformer continues to excel. Finding Neverland, starring Johnny Depp, grossed a wonderful $241,000 from only eight venues, earning an average of $30,125. Kinsey, starring Liam Neeson, grossed a sexy $175,000 from an even smaller five venues, earning an average of $35,000. Sideways, the fantastic-platforming release from Alexander Payne grossed $1.4 million from 144 venues, giving it a venue average of $9,722. And that's in its fourth weekend of release.

Overall this weekend, box office was up significantly over last year, when The Matrix Revolutions sputtered in its second weekend, dropping 66%. Last year, the top ten grossed about $117 million. This year, top ten estimates grossed a powerful $132.5 million, leaving 2003 in the dust.

Top Ten for Weekend of November 12-14, 2004
of Sites
Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 The Incredibles 3,933 -28% $50.3 $143.3
2 The Polar Express 3,650 New $23.3 $30.6
3 After the Sunset 2,819 New $11.1 $11.1
4 Seed of Chucky 2,061 New $8.8 $8.8
5 Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason 530 New $8.7 $8.7
6 Ray 2,474 -39% $8.4 $52.5
7 The Grudge 2,861 -44% $7.0 $99.2
8 Saw 2,467 -42% $6.4 $45.8
9 Shall We Dance 2,065 -28% $4.0 $48.7
10 Alfie 2,215 -55% $2.7 $11.1



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