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Box Office Estimates Report for April 8-10, 2005

Sahara Leads Dry Box Office

By Tim Briody

April 10, 2005

I go out with you because you wear kicky hats like these.

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Two new films entered theaters this weekend, each looking to repeat the success Sin City found last weekend by becoming the third highest April opener ever.

April has never really been a big month for blockbusters, with only two films topping the $30 million mark. Instead, the studios tend to view it as a month to prepare audiences for the big summer films that are released weekly from May through August. Last year began to challenge that notion, as five films (from five distinctly different genres) saw openings above $20 million. The trend continued into 2005 with Sin City's $29.1 million opening, and based on the opening weekends of last year's 13 Going On 30 and Hellboy, conventional wisdom suggested that each of these films would likely break or approach $20 million, with the sports-themed romantic comedy Fever Pitch leading Generic Action Movie Sahara.

In a bit of an upset, Sahara is the number one film this weekend. Earning $18.5 million for the weekend, the Paramount film shows us the value of advertising during the Super Bowl. Even as underwhelming as the trailer was, the heightened awareness eventually paid off. Audience were probably hungry for something in the National Treasure vein after the last several weeks of horror and comedies.

The bad news for Sahara is $18.5 million on 3,154 screens translates to a poor per-screen average of $5,865 per site. Combined with its 42% Fresh rating at review-tracking site Rotten Tomatoes, its future doesn't look too hot. The additional bad news is that with a reported $130 million production budget, Sahara has literally zero chance at making that back without some absolutely unheard of legs, and there doesn't appear to be anything special about this film to make that happen.

Sin City falls to second place with $14.1 million. That's a 51.4% decline from last weekend, and it certainly could've been much worse considering its 61% Friday to Friday drop. We can attest Sin City's fall to its opening weekend rush factor and the diversity of opinions. It's clearly a "love it or hate it" film and unless the great majority love it (ala The Matrix), legs are middling to non-existent. After ten days in release, Sin City's total stands at still solid $50.7 million.

Much like perennial also-rans (until this year) the Boston Red Sox, Fever Pitch places third for the weekend with $13 million. Starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore and directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly, the romantic comedy appeared to have some momentum heading into the weekend based on its subject matter, cast and mostly positive reviews. But perhaps the first two things I mentioned hurt the adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel more than they helped. First, it's about baseball, a sport that immediately interests most men. Plus, it had Drew Barrymore, who also immediately interests most men. They needed no help in going to see Fever Pitch.

Women, on the other hand, if they aren't interested in baseball had only Jimmy Fallon remaining as their hook. Therein lies the problem: you need to attract the women if you're going to have a successful romantic comedy.

As the widest release of the weekend with 3,267 screens, Fever Pitch ends up as a disappointment. We can compare it to previous films made from Hornby novels. High Fidelity opened to $6.4 million in 1,183 theaters five years ago en route to $30.2 million, while About A Boy earned $8.5 million off of 1,207 screens in 2002 on its way to $40.5 million. With a reported budget in the $30 million range, Fever Pitch should end up being a profitable venture for Fox in the long run, but much like
Sahara shows us the benefits of a Super Bowl ad, Fever Pitch shows us the danger of casting Jimmy Fallon.

Guess Who and Beauty Shop tie for fourth place with $7.1 million. Guess Who, the loose remake of Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, falls 44.1% in its third weekend as it crosses the $50 million mark with $51.1 million. Its weekend decline is a tad higher than last weekend, which can probably be attributed to Fever Pitch being chosen as a date movie over Guess Who (but when forced to choose between Jimmy Fallon and Ashton Kutcher, does anyone really win?). The comedy, which also stars Bernie Mac, could have a final total in the $70-75 million range.

Beauty Shop slips 44.5% from its opening weekend to also earn $7.1 million. The decline could've been higher for the Queen Latifah comedy, which is ostensibly a sequel to the Barbershop films. The two weekend total for the MGM production is now $26.4 million.

Sixth place goes to Robots, the computer-animated comedy from Fox that continues to hang on. With another $4.6 million this weekend, it's finally starting to show its age as it drops 52.6% from last week. After five weekends, it's earned a respectable $111 million, and $125 looks to be its final milestone.

The Sandra Bullock disappointment Miss Congeniality 2 takes seventh with $4.1 million. Off another 49.2% from last weekend, the tired-looking sequel has only earned $37.4 million after three weekends in theaters. Still in over 3,000 theaters, $50 million is a bit of a long shot as it should start to give those up rapidly from here on out.

With Hitch finally departing the top ten, Vin Diesel's The Pacifier becomes the elder statesman of the box office chart. Down two spots to eighth place with $3 million, the family comedy (I still can't believe I typed those words) hit the $100 million mark in its sixth weekend. The Disney flick still has a little steam left in it, and the $110-115 mark looks like a good finishing point for The Pacifier.

Horror sequel The Ring Two clings to ninth place this weekend with $2.9 million, off 48.2% from last weekend. After a big opening weekend, the Naomi Watts-starrer died off quickly, though its total stands at $72.3 million in four weekends. The Ring Two should make its way to the $80 million mark before it's done.

New Line's The Upside of Anger stays in the top ten this weekend with $2.6 million, off just 35.2% from last weekend, the best in the top ten. After five weekends in release and only two in wide release, the Kevin Costner/Joan Allen drama has earned $12.3 million.


Top Ten for Weekend of April 8-10, 2005
Rank
Film
Number
of Sites
Percentage Drop
Estimated
Gross ($)
Cumulative
Gross ($)
1 Sahara 3,154 New 18.5 18.5
2 Sin City 3,230 -51.4% 14.1 50.7
3 Fever Pitch 3,267 New 13.0 13.0
4 Guess Who 3,064 -44.1% 7.1 51.1
5 Beauty Shop 2,659 -44.5% 7.1 26.4
6 Robots 2,713 -52.6% 4.6 111.0
7 Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous 3,011 -49.2% 4.1 37.4
8 The Pacifier 2,375 -47.7% 3.0 100.4
9 The Ring Two 2,407 -48.2% 2.9 72.3
10 The Upside of Anger 1,151 -35.3% 2.6 12.3
11 Hitch 1,478 -41.3 1.7 173.7
12 Ice Princess 1,419 -46.8% 1.4 20.8

     


 
 

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