War of the Worlds Dominates Box Office

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for July 1-4, 2005

By John Hamann

July 4, 2005

Psychiatry...why do we have to talk about pyschiatry?

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Heading into the long weekend, it looked like the long losing streak at the box office might be over with the release of War of the Worlds. It looked like Tom Cruise/Steven Spielberg film could end the 18 consecutive weekends of bad news at the box office, but this weekend's top ten failed to end that streak again. Not only did the weekend not break the streak, the long weekend totals were about $50 million behind last year's four-day totals. Again, we will put our hope in next weekend, when the sure-to-be-huge Fantastic Four hits theatres July 8th.

The number one film of the weekend is Paramount's War of the Worlds, as the Steven Spielberg sci-fi flick grossed a so-so $64.5 million over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the weekend. The blockbuster earned $77.6 million from Friday-to-Monday and $113.3 million since opening on Wednesday. Released to a massive 3,908 sites, the retelling of the classic story earned a venue average of $19,856 over the four-day weekend. If War of the Worlds is considered a July opener (even though it opened on the last day of June), the three-day is a slightly disappointing fourth best open ever behind Spider-Man 2's $88.2 million, Goldmember's $73 million and Planet of the Apes' $68.5 million. As BOP's Tim Briody reported on Saturday, War of the Worlds had a Friday gross of about $23 million, which means the film's internal three-day multiplier came in at about 2.8, not far ahead of the Spidey sequel's 2.71. War of the Worlds seemed to have everything going for it - a somewhat quiet weekend in the last frame, a fantastic release date, and better-than-average reviews. Holding it back was Saturday's Live 8 concerts, which cut into sales on what should have been a stronger day than it was. At RottenTomatoes, 166 reviews were counted, and 119 were fresh, leaving the blockbuster with a fresh rating of 72% - not quite Spidey 2's 93%, but still very good. Word-of-mouth seems to be a bit of the love it or hate it variety, but the internal multiplier suggests good word may be spreading. For Tom Cruise, this is by far his biggest three-day gross, leaving Mission Impossible 2's $57.8 million in the dust; however, for Steven Spielberg, The Lost World remains his biggest, as it opened to $72.1 million in 1997. While $100 million plus over its first six days is great, the three-day gross still falls behind 1996's Independence Day, which earned an inflation adjusted $68.5 million over its first Friday to Sunday. This is indicative of this summer's woes at the box office, and is becoming a very large trend.

War of the Worlds is being released domestically by Paramount, and is the studio's first film to have three-days above $50 million, easily making it their biggest opener ever. It's also Paramount's second big hit of the summer, as The Longest Yard still has a top ten position this weekend. War was a co-production between Paramount, DreamWorks, Amblin Entertainment (Spielberg's company) and Tom Cruise's Cruise-Wagner Productions. The blockbuster cost between $128 and $135 million, but the price goes up because of Cruise and Spielberg's back-end deals. War of the Worlds should have been exactly what the box office needed in Summer 2005, a huge, star-driven event film that could have provided a solid base while other big films opened in July. Next weekend could be interesting. War of the Worlds should have a second weekend of about $35 million, and if Fox's Fantastic Four opens to $60 million, the bad news box office streak could end at 19.

A world away in second this weekend is Warner Bros' Batman Begins. Thanks mostly to the Independence Day weekend, Batman Begins holds decently. The WB prequel pulled a three-day gross of $15.7 million, dropping 43%, and earned a four-day gross of $18.7 million. The decent hold in its third weekend is great news for the return of the Caped Crusader, although percentage drops will be on the lower side this weekend due to the holiday Monday. However, if Batman Begins can continue to hold similarly, the superhero flick could earn $200 million domestic. It now sits with $154.1 million after three weekends of release.

Thrid spot goes to Mr. & Mrs. Smith, which had a remarkable hold this holiday weekend. After finishing third last weekend with $16.8 million, the Doug Liman directed film earned $10.2 million over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the weekend, earning a not-bad drop of 39%. The four-day estimate came in at $12.7 million. Now in its fourth weekend, the Smiths have earned $146.1 million and should reach $175 million or better by the end of their domestic run, making the movie one of the bright spots in a summer of lower grosses.

The news isn't nearly as good for Nicole Kidman's Bewitched, as the second weekend of the comedy was right on par with Kidman's Stepford Wives. Bewitched, from Sony's Columbia Pictures, earned a not-so-great $9.1 million from Friday-to-Sunday, down a nasty 55% from the previous frame. The four-day gross came in at $10.8 million The comedy has a current total of $40.3 million versus a production budget of about $80 million. At least the second weekend drop for Bewitched was a little better than The Stepford Wives. Kidman's last attempt at comedy fell 59% in its second weekend. Bewitched should finish with about $65 million, well off its production cost.

Fifth this weekend is Herbie: Fully Loaded, which had a better weekend compared to its disappointing opening figure of $12.7 million. The Lindsey Lohan feature grossed $8.7 million over three days this weekend, dropping a decent 32%. The family flick earned $10.5 million over four days, as estimators expected a busy day today due to the holiday. The $50 million Disney movie has now earned $36.8 million, and should easily meet its production figure domestically.

Madagascar ends up sixth this weekend, and had the lowest percentage drop in the top ten. The DreamWorks Animation movie grossed $5.4 million over three days in its sixth weekend and $7 million over four days. The kid flick dropped only 27% using the three-day figure. Since dropping 40% in its second frame, weekend holds have only gotten better for this one, and Madagascar's total has now reached $172.4 million at the domestic box office. It should finish just shy of $200 million.

Martin Lawrence's Rebound finished a disappointing seventh this weekend, well back of $10 million. Rebound, which is distributed by Fox, earned a slight $5 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period from 2,464 venues, and $6 million since opening Friday. It had a sad three-day venue average of only $2,029. Next up for Lawrence is an unnecessary sequel to Big Momma's House, the $117 million hit also distributed by Fox.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith ends up eighth this weekend. The final piece of the Star Wars saga earned $4 million over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the weekend, and $5 million from Friday-to-Monday. Using the three-day figure, Revenge of the Sith dropped 34%. The domestic total for Sith has now reached $366.5 million, but it is still stuck in tenth on the all time biggest domestic films list, as it waits to pass Passion of the Christ at $370.7 million. Internationally, Revenge of the Sith is approaching $750 million in worldwide box office.

Ninth goes to The Longest Yard, the Adam Sandler movie that just won't quit. Over three days, Yard earned $2.9 million and over four, $3.5 million. The Paramount/MTV Films co-production now has a total of $148.2 million, as it pushes towards $160 million.

Somewhat of a disappointment is the fall of George Romero's Land of the Dead from fifth last weekend to tenth this weekend. Over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the long weekend, Land of the Dead earned just $2.7 million in its second weekend, down a harsh 73%. The good news for the Universal release is that this one was cheap to make at $15 million, and has a current total of $16.7 million.

Overall, things are not so great at the box office. Over the four-day weekend, the top ten films at the box office earned about $155 million, well back of last year's totals. The top ten for the same long weekend last year earned about $206 million, well back of this weekend in 2005.

Top Ten for Weekend of July 1-4, 2005
of Sites
Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 War of the Worlds 3,908 New $77.6 $113.3
2 Batman Begins 3,765 -32% $18.7 $154.1
3 Mr. and Mrs. Smith 2,985 -25% $12.7 $146.1
4 Bewitched 3,188 -46% $10.8 $40.3
5 Herbie: Fully Loaded 3,521 -17% $10.5 $36.8
6 Madagascar 2,526 -6% $7.0 $172.4
7 Rebound 2,464 New $6.0 $6.0
8 Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith 1,759 -18% $5.0 $366.5
9 The Longest Yard 1,790 -36% $3.5 $148.2
10 Land of the Dead 2,253 -68% $3.2 $16.7



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