'Stranger' Calls Dibs on Box Office Top Spot

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for February 3-5, 2006

By Tim Briody

February 5, 2006

Why do you keep asking me if I like Wallace Fennel?

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While Super Bowl Sunday isn't a good day at the box office, the weekend itself isn't so bad anymore. Witness last year's Boogeyman, earning $19.5 million. Even You Got Served opened to $16.1 million in 2004. And now that Hollywood's Cheap Horror Remake Machine is running at full steam, we have the first film to earn $20 million during the weekend of the Super Bowl.

The number one movie of the weekend, unsurprisingly, is When A Stranger Calls, earning $22 million. A straight remake of the 1979 film of the same name that gave us the famous "the calls are coming from inside the house!" line, it's yet another cheaply made horror film that finds itself earning over $20 million on its opening weekend.

When a Stranger Calls opened strongly with $9.4 million Friday as John Hamann reported, giving it a 2.34 weekend multiplier, to be expected on Super Bowl weekend. Super Bowl Sunday is a notorious box office dead zone. It's good to know that with all the crazy box office anomalies, some traditions still hold true.


Of all the Cheap Teen Horror films to come down the pike over the last year, When A Stranger Calls is really more of a thriller rather than a horror film, as the focus wasn't the gore, like it was in last month's Hostel. Also different than other remakes the Cheap Teen Horror machine has turned out is its focus on just one primary character (the previously unknown Camilla Belle), instead of multiple attractive, soon to be dead, teen characters. That said, it should still behave like all the others, with massive declines from here on, and the film will just be a memory in a few weeks.

Second place goes to last week's champ, Martin Lawrence's Big Momma's House 2. The comedy sequel took a big hit in weekend number two, down 51.8% from last weekend to $13.3 million. Big Momma's House fell just 32.9% in its second weekend back in 2000, meaning there's no danger of the sequel surpassing the $117.5 million gross of the original at this point. Still, the fat suit has been kind to Martin Lawrence, as Big Momma 2 passes its reported $40 million production budget and now stands at $45.4 million after ten days. Perhaps it won't take nearly six years for a Big Momma's House 3.

Nanny McPhee takes third this weekend with $9.9 million off a mere 31.7% from last week. The Emma Thompson character had some staying power with families this weekend, and since the domestic box office is basically gravy for Universal, it might just be a franchise starter after all. Even with Curious George out next weekend, it should still be a solid family option over the next several weeks. Nanny McPhee has now earned $26.6 million in two weekends.

Riding high on its eight Oscar nominations, Brokeback Mountain lands in fourth place with $5.7 million, off a scant 12.8% from a weekend ago. We can blame the Super Bowl on this one too, as the film has regularly been posting mid and high 3 weekend multipliers, but only managed a 3.15 this weekend. As the favorite to win many major categories, especially Best Picture and Best Director, Ang Lee's drama should be a mainstay in the top ten all the way through the Academy Awards ceremony. Brokeback Mountain has now earned $59.8 million.

The Weinstein Co's Hoodwinked places fifth this weekend with $5.3 million, off 29.1% from last weekend, and now stands at $44.1 million after four weekends. Who would've figured that would be almost three times its production budget? Though it's far from the likes of a Pixar release, Hoodwinked, now a lock for $50 million domestically, will be one of the more important computer animated films ever made.

Underworld: Evolution falls to sixth in its third weekend, down 55.2% from last weekend with $5.1 million. The Kate Beckinsale sequel has now earned $52.7 million, just ahead of the $51.9 million total gross of Underworld. A final total of $60-65 million seems like a safe bet, more than enough to greenlight a third entry in the series, provided Kate Beckinsale can stay interested.

Way back in seventh is the weekend's other new release, Something New. The romantic comedy starring Saana Lathan failed to counterprogram the Super Bowl, earning just $5 million. Even with a 1,266 screen count, it's still a disappointing opening, and will only fade fast from here, especially with four wide releases next weekend.

Eighth place goes to Annapolis in its second weekend, down 54.7% from last weekend with $3.5 million this weekend. The Naval Academy drama has earned $12.9 million in two weekends, which is still more than I thought it would make. Fortunately, we never have to mention it again after this weekend.

Expanding back to 1,577 theaters in anticipation of Oscar nominations that never came, Walk The Line nonetheless returns to the top ten with $3.4 million, a 12.7% increase from last week. It did score the expected acting nominations for its leads Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, but surprisingly did not get a Best Picture nomination, nor a directing nod for James Mangold. With Witherspoon being the odds-on favorite to win Best Actress, expect another slight bump if she wins, but this is basically the last hurrah for the Johnny Cash biopic. Walk the Line has very quietly earned over $20 million since its last appearance in the top ten over the weekend of December 16th - 18th, passing the $100 million mark two weeks ago. It has earned $110.7 million since its release back in November.

Glory Road rounds out the top ten with $3 million, a 43.7% drop from a weekend ago. The basketball drama has performed admirably over the month of January, and has earned $39 million in four weekends.

Even with the strong opening of When A Stranger Calls, the box office was still down from this weekend a year ago. This weekend's top ten films earned $76.2 million, as opposed to last year's top ten, led by The Boogeyman, which earned $82.6 million.

Top Ten for Weekend of Februrary 3-5, 2006
of Sites
Percentage Drop
Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 When A Stranger Calls 2,999 New 22.0 22.0
2 Big Momma's House 2 3,261 -51.8% 13.3 45.4
3 Nanny McPhee 2,145 -31.7% 9.9 26.6
4 Brokeback Mountain 2,089 -12.8% 5.7 59.8
5 Hoodwinked! 2,907 -29.1% 5.3 44.1
6 Underworld: Evolution 2,870 -55.2% 5.1 52.7
7 Something New 1,266 New 5.0 5.0
8 Annapolis 1,607 -54.7% 3.5 12.9
9 Walk the Line 1,577 +12.7% 3.4 110.7
10 Glory Road 2,141 -47.3% 3.0 39.0



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