Fireworks for Fockers at Box Office

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for December 31 - January 2, 2005

By John Hamann

January 2, 2005

The whole Focker clan is having a happy new year thanks to people like you.

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With New Year’s Eve taking this weekend’s Friday night, and Sunday being the day before some kids go back to school after Christmas, box office was a little odd this weekend. New Year’s Day is one of the busiest box office days of the winter season, while the day before is quiet with many theatres closed for their latest shows. Sunday doesn’t show the strength we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks – especially for kids films – because of the dreaded return to school. Studios took notice – for new films, only a handful of Oscar appearances debut this week, and none of the previous week's arthouse releases expand too much.

The number one film over the New Year’s weekend is the same as the Christmas weekend - the Meet the Parents sequel, Meet the Fockers. The dominant film over the Christmas season continued to roll this weekend, grossing another $42.8 million, down only 7% from last weekend. After a ‘slow’ New Year’s Eve Friday at $12.1 million, Meet the Fockers had an outstanding first day of 2005 on Saturday, pulling in another $18.2 million. Playing at 3,524 venues, Fockers had a venue average of $12,145. Since opening, the Universal comedy has had only one day where it grossed less than $11 million, that being Christmas Eve when it grossed about $7.5 million. With these heady days, Fockers has already grossed $163.4 million over 12 days, and is already approaching the domestic gross of the original, which finished with $166.2 million. The sequel cost Universal about $25 million more to make than the original, coming in at about $80 million.

For Universal, Meet the Fockers caps what has to be considered a great year for the studio. Sure, the Bridget Jones sequel wasn’t the force some expected it to be, but international grosses made up for any domestic shortcomings. The studio had big wins this year with Along Came Polly (another Ben Stiller film – he led four films over $80 million in 2004), Dawn of the Dead, The Bourne Supremacy, Friday Night Lights, and Ray. The studio did have some big misses as well, like Two Brothers, Thunderbirds and The Chronicles of Riddick – three films that cost $260 million to make and grossed only $83.4 million domestically between the three of them. Fockers will easily top $200 million in domestic sales and become the studio’s biggest hit of 2004.

Pulling up in second with a definitive limp is Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Christmas week saved this film, padding its numbers due to a lack of holiday choices for the little ones. Over New Year’s weekend, Lemony Snicket grossed $14.7 million, up 17% from last weekend’s gross of $12.6 million (which was hurt by Christmas Eve). The Paramount collaboration with DreamWorks had the most venues this weekend at 3,623 venues and carried an average of $4,057. The Jim Carrey flick has now grossed $94.8 million, and is coming close to working its way over the $100 million hump.

The Aviator appears to be endearing itself to audiences, as the Marty Scorsese picture moved from fourth to third this weekend – without adding any venues to its run. Over the Christmas Eve weekend, The Aviator grossed $8.6 million and had a venue average of $4,805. This weekend, the biopic increased on its score by 30%, grossing $11.2 million and pulling a very healthy venue average of $6,258 from those same 1,796 venues. Great reviews and good word-of-mouth are propelling the Oscar worthy picture, made by Warner Bros and Miramax amongst others, and is being distributed domestically via Miramax. Made for $100 million, The Aviator has now grossed $31.1 million and should expand its run further next weekend.

After finishing third last weekend despite opening on Saturday, Fat Albert falls to fourth over the New Year’s frame with three full days of business. The Fox comedy grossed $10.7 million this weekend, up a slight 7% compared to its $10 million opening frame – despite adding 70 new venues. No budget data is available, but it looks to be at the low end of the spectrum, so I bet Fox is somewhat happy with a gross so far of $33.9 million. At the very least, Fat Albert has beat the combined grosses of Leonard Part 6 and Ghost Dad, something we at BOP thought impossible.

Ocean’s Twelve takes fifth place this weekend, and crosses the $100 million mark in domestic sales. The film with all the star power grossed $9.2 million this weekend and is another film to gross more in this frame than over the last one. Ocean’s Twelve increased over last weekend by 10%, and crossed the $100 million mark on Friday. It now sits with a current gross of $106.9 million versus a production budget of $110 million. After a good start, the sequel is no longer enjoying the success of the first Ocean's movie. After the same amount of release time, Ocean’s 11 had grossed $137 million before going on to make about $183 million.

At sixth we have one of the oddest things I’ve ever seen in my years of box office analysis. After finishing out of the top ten last weekend, National Treasure moves back in to the top six with an increase this weekend over last of a stunning 77%. National Treasure grossed $7 million this weekend, well ahead of its $4 million finish over the Christmas frame. The Disney release has now improved its overall total to $154.8 million, against a production budget of $100 million. Congrats to the Mouse House from turning this pumpkin into Cinderella.

Seventh this weekend is Spanglish, another movie that is hanging on due to its solid share of theatres. This weekend, the James L. Brooks dramedy grossed $6.3 million, up 36% from last weekend. So far, the $100 million film desperate for some Oscar recognition has taken in $31.0 million.

One of the few ‘down movies’ this weekend is The Polar Express, as the Christmas movie began to wither. The Polar Express took in an additional $5.7 million but dropped 12%. Look for a steep drop-off next weekend, as the holiday Saturday gross was less than the New Year’s Eve Friday take. The Polar Express has so far earned $155.2 million.

In ninth is WB’s Phantom of the Opera. Phantom grossed $4.8 million this weekend, enjoying a lift of 20%. The musical has a current gross of $16.3 million.

Despite finishing outside the top ten on Friday, Darkness was able to come back on Saturday and stake a claim in a top ten spot. Darkness grossed $4.5 million as the low budget horror film dropped 26% compared to last weekend, the only film to fall significantly this weekend. The $12 million film has now grossed $16.5 million domestically.

Overall this weekend, after a few weeks of the blues to end 2004, box office was at least flat compared to last year. Over the first weekend of the year in 2004, the top ten came in at about $115 million. This year, the top ten estimates total $117 million.

Top Ten for Weekend of December 31-January 2, 2005
of Sites
Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 Meet the Fockers 3,524 -7% $42.8 $163.4
2 Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events 3,623 +17% $14.7 $94.8
3 The Aviator 1,796 +30% $11.2 $31.1
4 Fat Albert 2,744 +7% $10.7 $33.9
5 Ocean's Twelve 3,290 +10% $9.2 $106.9
6 National Treasure 2,282 +77% $7.0 $154.8
7 Spanglish 2,489 +36% $6.3 $31.0
8 The Polar Express 2,513 -12% $5.7 $155.2
9 The Phantom of the Opera 622 +20% $4.8 $16.3
10 Darkness 1,718 -26% $4.5 $16.5
11 The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou 1,105 -5% $4.3 $14.7
12 The Incredibles 1,715 +66% $4.0 $251.5



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