'Emily Rose' Exorcises Box Office Demons

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up For September 9-11, 2005

By Tim Briody

September 11, 2005

Wait. I'm in a horror movie?

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As time goes on, the notion of box office dead zones on the calendar is further diminished. January used to be a dumping ground for films and while in a sense it still is, this past January saw three $20 million openers. The weekend after Thanksgiving isn't the nightmare that it used to be for any film released on that weekend. Gradually, the studios are catching on to this idea, realizing that audiences will flock to a film they want to see regardless of when it's released. Another traditional slow period, besides the Labor Day holiday weekend itself (which also sees its share of breakouts nowadays) is the weekend that follows that holiday.

This particular weekend in past years has seen such stellar releases as Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (which topped the box office with $6.6 million), Swimfan and The Watcher. But last year saw the release of Resident Evil: Apocalypse to $23.7 million, the third highest September opener ever.

This year brought us two new releases, one of which was pegged as DOA from a mile away and the other didn't really seem poised to break out, what with the four-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States, the continuing cleanup in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and, of course, the start of the NFL season. But something funny happened on the way to the second-run theaters, and we have a new member of the $30 million opening in September club.

The number one film of the weekend is The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Turns out audiences love a good exorcism, as it opened to the tune of $30.2 million, far surpassing the expectations of many analysts, including the author. Despite largely negative reviews, audiences clearly responded to the marketing, which was extremely similar to January's White Noise (that voice guy deserves a raise). As BOP's Kim Hollis reported, Emily Rose opened with $11.6 million Friday and managed a 2.6 multiplier for the weekend, right in tune with what a horror film should do in its first three days. It now stands alone as the third highest September opener, behind Rush Hour and Sweet Home Alabama.

Costing less than $20 million to make, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is already a profitable film for Sony. It might tail off quickly from here as films of this genre are wont to do (Last year's Exorcist: The Beginning opened to $18 million and finished with $41.8 million), but the studio's execs have every reason to be ecstatic about this opening.

Holding in second place for the second weekend in a row with $7.9 million is The 40 Year-Old Virgin, the Universal comedy starring Steve Carell and written and directed by Judd Apatow. Off 40.6% from last weekend, the sex comedy now stands at $82.3 million after four weekends. Its $100 million prospects took a little bit of a hit this weekend, but Virgin should have enough steam to finish just a bit over that landmark.

Falling from first to third is action sequel The Transporter 2, which falls a predictable 56.4% from its three-day total from last weekend. Earning $7.2 million, the Fox flick now stands at $30.1 million in ten days, already surpassing the $25.2 million The Transporter earned in its entire run. It's also ahead of its reported $30 million production budget as well.

Fourth goes to The Constant Gardener, Focus Features' first Oscar contender this year. Down 44% from last weekend with $4.9 million, those aren't the kind of numbers that hold the interest of the Academy for very long, but if it can stabilize from here (weekend declines tend to inflate a little after holiday weekends, even Labor Day), it can stay in the race. The Constant Gardener has earned $19.1 million to date.

Red Eye hangs in fifth place with $4.6 million, off 39.5% from a weekend ago. The Wes Craven thriller starring photogenic up-and-comers Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy is holding very well amidst the end of the summer and early September releases. It's nearly doubled its reported $26 million price tag, as Red Eye has now earned $51.3 million in four weekends. The $65 million mark looks to be the likely destination for the DreamWorks production.

Sixth place goes to the weekend's other new opener, The Man. With a meager $4 million, the unfunny-looking comedy starring Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy managed to perform even worse than many analysts thought it would. Released in only 2,040 theaters, New Line knew they had stinker on their hands and more or less buried it this weekend. The Man may not even earn $10 million in theaters, which is rather impressive considering how films like The Cave can even reach that total without too much trouble. There's just nothing worse than a comedy that isn't funny.

Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm hangs in seventh with $3.3 million, down a dreadful 54.4% from last weekend. With $33.3 million after three weekends in theaters, the $90 million negative cost is a long, long way off. The Matt Damon/Heath Ledger (the box office poison of the new generation of movie stars) film looks to finish its theatrical run with less than $40 million.

The Wedding Crashers lands in eighth and crosses a major milestone in the process. With $3.2 million (down 32.6% from last weekend), its total now stands at an even $200 million after nine weekends. If there was a summer hit that wasn't on anybody's radar just a few months ago, this was it. The Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn comedy has a few more million left in it before enjoying a long life on DVD. New Line needs all the help it can get after the abysmal performance of The Man this weekend.

John Singleton's Four Brothers clings to ninth place with $2.9 million, down 41.2% from last weekend. The Paramount release has earned a solid $68.2 million in five weekends at the box office. Figure around $75 million for a final tally for the urban revenge drama.

Lastly, the penguins that just won't go away finish tenth. March of the Penguins, the second-highest grossing documentary of all time added another $2.5 million to its total, bringing it to $56.8 million. It's off 38.4% from last weekend and still has some life left in it, so look for around $65 million as a final total.

The top ten films this weekend finished well above last year, mostly thanks to the mammoth opening of The Exorcism of Emily Rose. The top ten films earned $74.5 million, up 24.5% from a year ago when Resident Evil: Apocalypse led the pack.

Top Ten for Weekend of September 9-11, 2005
of Sites
Percentage Drop
Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 The Exorcism of Emily Rose 2,981 New $30.2 $30.2
2 The 40 Year-Old Virgin 2,976 40.6% $7.9 $82.3
3 The Transporter 2 3,320 56.4% $7.2 $30.1
4 The Constant Gardener 1,381 44% $4.9 $19.1
5 Red Eye 3,076 39.5% $4.6 $51.3
6 The Man 2,040 New $4.0 $4.0
7 The Brothers Grimm 2,750 54.4% $3.3 $33.3
8 Wedding Crashers 2,181 32.6% $3.2 $200.0
9 Four Brothers 2,093 41.2% $2.9 $68.2
10 March of the Penguins 2,403 38.4% $2.5 $56.8



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