Good vs Evil at the Box Office

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for January 28-30, 2005

By John Hamann

January 30, 2005

I *will* have more Oscars than you. I will!

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The post-Oscar nomination weekend at the box office brought the obligatory expanding quality films, and something we’re seeing more and more of in January, truly hideous films. Hide and Seek and Alone in the Dark opened this weekend, with one making a large impact, and one drowning in its incompetence. Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator and Sideways all benefited from their Oscar nomination successes, and continued to pull their grosses skyward compared to previous weekends.

The suspense-horror flick is becoming a January staple. Last year, The Butterfly Effect opened to about $17 million and made $58 million by the end of its run. Final Destination 2 found similar success towards the end of January 2003. This year, White Noise has already found success, and with Hide and Seek’s non-stop marketing, it was also bound to be a hit. Are studios putting cheap, lowbrow horror films out into the marketplace as counter-programming against Oscar? January used to be an excellent place to ‘dump’ a film, now it seems we just get dumpy films. So far through the first month of the year, we have a very close race between five films for next year’s Razzies. Films that have received lower than a 20% fresh score (positive reviews divided by total reviews) at RottenTomatoes include Are We There Yet? (12%), White Noise (10%), Elektra (6%), and now Hide and Seek (18%) and Alone in the Dark (2%). The sad thing is that more than half of these films will most likely be profitable for their respective studios so look for more sad Januarys to come in our future.

Yes, the number one film of the weekend is Robert ‘show me the money’ De Niro’s Hide and Seek, also starring devil-child Dakota Fanning. Hide and Seek was released to 3,005 venues this weekend, and made a more-than-expected $22 million over the three days. The Fox release had a venue average of $7,321. The horror film opened on Friday to $8.1 million, so it had an internal multiplier of 2.7, which means that maybe word is getting around on this one. The opening weekend for Hide and Seek is more than the total for De Niro’s last horror flick, Godsend, which finished its run with a little over $14 million. So why the big difference between Hide and Seek and Godsend? One difference would be the marketing, as TV ads were non-stop for this for the 2005 release. The other would be De Niro, who is coming off a huge turn in Meet the Fockers, rather than coming off Analyze That for the release of Godsend.

Last week’s number one film, Are We There Yet? (or Are We Far Enough Away From Oscar Yet?) finishes second this weekend, but only because it’s the closest thing to a family release in the top five. The Ice Cube comedy pulled in another $17 million this weekend, after winning the race last weekend with an $18.6 million take versus playoff football and a blizzard in the Northeast. The drop was an extremely healthy 9%, and the Sony/Revolution flick had a decent sophomore weekend venue average of $2,710. The total now for the $50 million production sits at $39.1 million, and it should easily finish with as much as $75 million domestic.

Our first film to benefit this weekend from a batch of Oscar Nominations in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby. The Best Picture contender, which stars Eastwood, Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank, has played a small run of theatres for six weeks. This weekend Warner Bros widened the film dramatically, bringing the venue total from 147 venues all the way up to 2,010. The move worked for the studio, as the weekend gross came in at $11.8 million and Baby carried a venue average of $5,883. The relatively low budget film ($30 million) has now grossed $21.1 million, and with seven Oscar nominations, the sky is the limit for potential box office from this one.

It was a close battle for the last two top five spots in the top ten, as three films all finished close to $6 million. Fourth goes to Coach Carter, Samuel L. Jackson’s hit about a basketball coach. Coach Carter grossed $8 million in its third weekend of release, down only 24% from the previous frame, as a lack of football on Sunday may have helped the Coach out a little. The Paramount film, with its small $30 million budget, should gross $70 million domestically, as it sits currently with $53.6 million.

Fifth this weekend is Meet the Fockers, which is enjoying its sixth weekend in the top ten. The star-studded film grossed $7.6 million from a still ultra-wide 3,001 venues. The Universal release dropped a small 22%. Fockers passed some big Pixar films on the all-time list this weekend, including Monsters, Inc. and The Incredibles (who would’ve thought Fockers would outgross The Incredibles… sad). The other Robert De Niro movie in the top ten now sits with an absolutely huge $257.9 million.

Sixth is The Aviator, the biggest winner of Oscar nominations with 11. Miramax added about 250 venues to The Aviator’s run this weekend, and the Leo DiCaprio flick increased heartily compared to last weekend. The Aviator grossed $7.5 million this weekend from 2,503 venues; the biopic had a venue average of $3,000, and increased versus last weekend by 55%. While this is great news for the studios behind The Aviator, this was a very expensive production, coming in at over $100 million. The domestic gross sits at a healthy $68.2 million, but is going to have to tread water for a while if it wants to be a factor after the Oscars are given out.

Sideways finally finishes in the top ten after 15 weeks of release (the film had four weekends in 11th), as it celebrates a batch of Oscar nominations as well (although someone should be sacrificed for not nominating Paul Giamatti for a best picture Oscar). Business-wise, Sideways had its best weekend yet, and is at its widest release point. The wine-soaked drama earned $6.3 million from 1,694 venues. The film more than doubled its score compared to last weekend, and earned a venue average of $3,733. The total now for the $16 million-budgeted Alexander Payne film sits at $40 million – with hopefully a lot more to come.

In Good Company falls to eighth this weekend, after finishing fourth in the last frame. The comedy with Topher Grace and Dennis Quaid held solidly, despite the drop in ranking. In Good Company earned $6.2 million this weekend from 1,963 venues – giving it the fifth best venue average in the top ten at $3,155. Universal has platformed this film out quite well (it dropped only 23%), making it somewhat of a unique product in the marketplace. The truth is in the earnings, as In Good Company has now earned $35.9 million.

Buried back in ninth is Racing Stripes, most likely drowned out by chants of Are We There Yet? Racing Stripes earned $6.1 million in its third weekend, down a solid 11% from the previous weekend. The total for the zebra racing film sits at $34.6 million.

It was a close race for tenth between the mishandled Assault on Precinct 13, the Oscar-less Phantom of the Opera, and the stinky bad horror films White Noise and Alone in the Dark. The winner was Assault on Precinct 13, which finished with $4.2 million, a drop of 35%. Thankfully, Alone in the Dark, the $20 million dollar horror film from Lions Gate finished outside the top ten with $2.5 million. Whew.

Overall, box office 2005 stayed ahead of 2004. The top ten for this weekend pulled in about $97 million, well ahead of last year’s $67 million. Look for another busy weekend coming up, when the PG-13 rated horror film Boogeyman hits North American screens.

Top Ten for Weekend of January 28-30, 2005
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Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 Hide and Seek 3,005 New $22.0 $22.0
2 Are We There Yet? 2,710 -9% $17.0 $39.1
3 Million Dollar Baby 2,010 New $11.8 $21.1
4 Coach Carter 2,574 -24% $8.0 $53.6
5 Meet the Fockers 3,006 -22% $7.6 $257.9
6 The Aviator 2,503 55% $7.5 $68.2
7 Sideways 1,694 New $6.3 $40.0
8 In Good Company 1,960 -23% $6.2 $35.9
9 Racing Stripes 3,185 -11% $6.1 $34.6
10 Assault on Precinct 13 2,297 -35% $4.2 $14.7
11 Phantom of the Opera 1,511 -12% $4.0 $38.9
12 White Noise 2,125 -45% $2.8 $53.6



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