Transporter Rules Labor Day at the Box Office

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for September 2-5, 2005

By John Hamann

September 5, 2005

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Ahhh, Labor Day Weekend. Infamous for being a weekend where leftover films are dumped onto unsuspecting audiences, those audiences seem to be slowly getting wiser with their moviegoing decisions (at least until Kangaroo Jack 2 is released). The $80 million production Sound of Thunder opened this weekend and failed to make the top ten films of the weekend, along with the also critically reviled Underclassmen. However, The Transporter 2 got off to a decent start for Fox and The Constant Gardener made the top three, but only earned a little over $6 million. The good news about Labor Day Weekend 2005 is that we have an opener over $10 million – a feat last year's crop couldn't accomplish last year over the first three days of that holiday frame.

Obviously, there was more on North America's collective minds than movies this weekend (thank goodness). The tragedy in Louisiana and surrounding areas is much more important than going to the movies, or analyzing how much those films earned over the weekend. Let me remind you that BOP's Kim Hollis has all the information on how you can help in her blog post from Friday. Here's the link:

The number one film over the four-day holiday weekend is The Transporter 2, Fox's rehashing of their cult hit 2002 release. Over the four-day holiday weekend, The Transporter 2 grossed $20.3 million from 3,303 venues. The Jason Statham actioner had a venue average of $6,130. 20th Century Fox obviously wanted to earn what they could before audiences abandoned this sequel, indicated by the huge venue count for this middling release. The first Transporter wasn't all that, at least at the domestic and overseas box office. The original film grossed $25.3 million – overall, not over its opening weekend – and earned less than $20 million from overseas markets. The studio did earn $45 million in international receipts from a production budget of around $20 million (no lottery win there for Fox); however, the greenlight of the sequel has to be due to huge home video sales and rentals. The original had no legs and the star hasn't had a huge hit since the original was released (Statham is currently shooting Uwe Boll's Dungeon Siege, not really a choice of a star on the rise). A big reason for the opening weekend success is that a coupon went out with the recent special DVD edition of The Transporter, so expect a plunge of dramatic proportions next weekend. The Transporter 2 cost Fox about $30 million to make, and even with this opening weekend, it will not perform that much better than the original.

Second spot this weekend goes to the 40 Year-Old Virgin, which is spending its first of three weekends outside of the top spot. The Universal release grossed $16.6 million over the long weekend (an increase over last weekend of 2%). Now on 2,901 venues (33 more than last weekend), the Steve Carell comedy had a four-day venue average of $5,704. The comedy now has a cume of $71.9 million and looks to finish with at least $100 million, if not a lot more. The 40 Year-Old Virgin cost only $26 million to make, so DVD sales and rentals alone would make this Virgin a winner.

Third this weekend is new release The Constant Gardener, released in North America by Focus Features. The Ralph Fiennes/Rachel Weisz action/drama earned $10.8 million over the four-day weekend and $12.5 million since opening last Wednesday. While not a knock out of the park, remember that the film was released to only 1,346 theatres, so it had a long weekend venue average of $8,026, easily the best in the top ten. The film has been getting great reviews, so an expanding pattern would not surprise. At RottenTomatoes, 113 reviews were counted, with 90 critics giving the film a thumbs up, which could give the film some momentum heading through September. However, that sadly didn't work for Bill Murray's Broken Flowers (also from Focus Features), which has failed to break into the top ten over its first five weeks of release, despite excellent reviews.

Landing in fourth is Red Eye, Wes Craven's thriller in the air. In its third frame, Red Eye grossed $9.3 million from 3,134 venues over the four-day weekend. It was down 10% from last weekend, and had a venue average of $2,967. The thriller, starring Cillian Murphy and Rachel McAdams, has now grossed $45.4 million. It should make it to $65 million before having a happy existence on DVD as part of DreamWorks' library. Like the 40 Year-Old Virgin, Red Eye cost only $25 million to make, and was an excellent investment for the studio.

Way back in fifth is last weekend's number two film, The Brothers Grimm. The Brothers, Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, didn't have the same great weekend they had in their first frame. After opening to over $15 million last weekend, The Brothers Grimm earned $7.9 million over the four-day weekend, and even with an extra day, the film was down a terrible 48%. It now looks like the Grimm boys will struggle badly to earn half of their $90 million production budget back. The Dimension Films release has now earned $27.6 million.

Sixth spot goes to Four Brothers, Paramount's urban mini-hit. The Mark Wahlberg action flick grossed $5 million in its fourth weekend over three days and $6.4 million over four, down 37% from the previous frame based on the three-day number. Four Brothers was made for a smart $45 million, and has now earned $64.4 million.

Wedding Crashers fell to seventh this weekend, as it seems North America was less in the mood for funny this weekend, which is not a surprise at all. Over the first three days of the long weekend, Wedding Crashers earned $4.5 million in its eighth weekend of release ($5.8 million over four days). Based on the three-day figure, Crashers fell 26%, as the drop should have been padded by the long weekend; with the extra day, the drop was reduced to 5%. New Line's hit of the summer reached a cume of $195.8 million, and will reach $200 million next weekend.

Landing in eighth is March of the Penguins, another of summer 2005's batch of smaller word-of-mouth hits. In its seventh weekend of wide release, Penguins grossed $5.4 million, and with the extra Monday it was actually up a strong 14% from the previous frame. The Warner Independent Pictures release has now earned $63.4 million.

Kate Hudson's Skeleton Key finishes in ninth as the horror flick crumpled after an opening weekend above $16 million. Over the four-day weekend, Skeleton Key earned $4.1 million, down 11% from last weekend due to the extra day. The good news is that this is another film in this week's top ten where the domestic gross will eclipse the production budget. This Universal film was made for $45 million and has now earned $43.8 million domestically.

Tenth goes to the woeful Cave, and like The Brothers Grimm, fell badly despite the extra day in the weekend. Over four days, The Cave grossed $3.7 million, down 40% from last weekend. After two weekends, The Cave has earned $11.7 million.

Lastly, let me point out that WB's A Sound of Thunder made the sound of nothing this weekend at the box office. The $80 million Ed Burns (or is that Ed Wood?) flick grossed next to nothing this weekend ($1.2 million over four days), finishing well back of the top ten. One of the production companies on Thunder was Crusader Entertainment (a division of Walden Media), who made one of last year's big, big flops in Around the World in 80 Days.

Overall, the top ten earned about $85 million over the four-day holiday weekend, which is surprisingly up over last year. The top ten films over the Labor Day weekend last year earned a very poor $75 million. During tough times North America goes to the movies, and I think that's quite apparent this weekend.

Top Ten for Weekend of September 2-5, 2005
of Sites
4-Day Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 Transporter 2 3,303 New $20.3 $20.3
2 The 40 Year-Old Virgin 2,901 +2% $16.6 $71.9
3 The Constant Gardener 1,346 New $10.8 $12.5
4 Red Eye 3,134 -10% $9.3 $45.4
5 The Brothers Grimm 3,098 -48% $7.9 $27.6
6 Four Brothers 2,435 -19% $6.4 $64.4
7 Wedding Crashers 2,416 -5% $5.8 $195.8
8 March of the Penguins 2,506 +14% $5.4 $63.4
9 The Skeleton Key 2,414 -11% $4.1 $43.8
10 The Cave 2,195 -40% $3.7 $11.7



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