Weekend Forecast for March 18-20, 2005

By Reagen Sulewski

March 18, 2005

You stay away from that Dakota Fanning girl. She's bad news.

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The sequel to one of the more popular horror films of the last five years leads off the new releases this weekend and promises to jump start the spring box office that has been just lukewarm so far.

The Ring opened to little fanfare in October of 2002 on less than 2,000 screens, its star known only to David Lynch (and Tank Girl) fans. What it did have was an effective trailer and a spooky viral marketing campaign, revolving around a mysterious video tape that was purported to kill anyone that watched it. That’s not even to mention an extremely creepy tagline, “Before you die, you see the ring.”

Opening to $20 million, the film quickly caught on thanks to a kicker of an ending, and finished up with $129 million. Ever the trend spotters, Hollywood jumped on the Japanese origins of the film and started planning a bunch of “J-horror” remakes, the most recent of which was last year’s The Grudge. A Ring sequel was inevitable, and Dreamworks went the extra step of bringing in the Japanese original’s director for this one.

However, early word has that this unusual faith to the spirit of a project has actually resulted in a pretty tepid film. Watts’ performance in the first film, which we at BOP actually gave her an award for, has faded in retrospect based on her roles since then. That’s not so much the problem as the revelations that the film simply isn’t scary. As one of the most easily sold sequels this year, that’s not likely to be an issue on opening weekend. Look for The Ring Two to open to about $48 million, when the court of public opinion will take over.

The pre-teen girls demographic is one that has seen a ton of interest from Hollywood in the past half-decade, with at least a few films every year catering to what might have been considered under-served. This extremely narrow demographic has routinely come out in force for the few films it’s been given. However, in the case of the latest one, Ice Princess, I have a feeling they’re not going to be quite as supportive.

The films for this demo have been primarily romances, and while the wish-fulfillment angle of Ice Princess is promising, the figure skating angle is likely to skew much younger. Michele Trachtenberg has some cachet with this age group, who probably know her as Harriet the Spy or Dawn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but also may have outgrown being a fan of hers.

Disney promotion is strong but not particularly inspired, leaving this one to fall flat, even though reviews are generally polite. On a decent release of 2,501 theaters, Ice Princess should earn about $7 million.

Last week’s number one was Robots, which has to be considered an underperformer at $36 million, though this is only $6 million less than Shrek opened to just a few years ago. How things have changed for this genre, where excellence is expected. Like Shark Tale last fall, this is another nail in the coffin of CGI animation as an automatic money maker. It shouldn’t do too badly this weekend, around $24 million, but is probably not going to be the windfall Fox was hoping for.

Disney has been aggressively promoting their brand of late, as opposed to their Touchstone arm, with this week’s Ice Princess and the number one of two weeks ago, The Pacifier. The Vin Diesel family comedy (bet you never thought you’d hear those words) has earned around $60 million so far after two weeks, and looks headed for a sure $100 million. Legs aren’t strong, but aren’t terrible either and it should bring in another $10 million this frame.

There’s a duel to the bottom between Be Cool and Hostage, which both ended last weekend at just over $10 million. Be Cool suffered a massive 56% drop in weekend two and Hostage seems to have made no impact on anyone. Both are good for around $5 million this weekend. They’re both likely to drop behind Hitch, still running quite strong in its sixth weekend. It’s beaten the $150 million during this week and should add another $6 million to that total.

Expanding some in limited release is The Upside of Anger, which pulled a massive $23,000 per screen on nine screens. The Joan Allen/Kevin Costner weeper jumps to 153 screens this weekend, and should bring in $1.5 million at this level, with more expansions quite probable.

Forecast: Weekend of March 18-20, 2005
Number of
Changes in Sites
from Last
Gross ($)
1 The Ring Two 3,332 New 48.4
2 Robots 3,776 0 24.3
3 The Pacifier 3,181 +15 10.7
4 Ice Princess 2,501 New 7.5
5 Hitch 2,703 -272 6.1
6 Hostage 2,183 +60 5.5
7 Be Cool 2,660 -556 5.1
8 Million Dollar Baby 2,210 -165 3.9
9 Diary of a Mad Black Woman 1,279 -326 2.3
10 Constantine 1,670 -500 2.0



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