X-Men Rock Memorial Day Box Office

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for May 26-29, 2006

By John Hamann

May 29, 2006

Stewart, for the last time, stop sniffing my hair!

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Oh boy, are those X-Men big. Over the four-day weekend, X-Men: The Last Stand took in $120.1 million, easily a record for the biggest movie-going weekend of the year. That's a bucket-load more than former record holder The Day After Tomorrow, and X-Men's three-day total falls just $10 million under Spiderman's three-day record of $114.8 million set in 2002. While news for the X-Men and Fox is only good, things aren't as pretty in the rest of the top ten. The Da Vinci Code got buried under the weight of the comic book heroes, and over the first three days of the long weekend, it lost 56% of the opening weekend audience.

As mentioned above, X-Men: The Last Stand is far and away the number one film of the weekend, pulling in an exciting four-day gross of $120.1 million from 3,689 venues. That equals a stunning average of $32,554, a number that exhibitors will find relief in, especially after a very strong frame last weekend. As BOP's Tim Briody mentioned on Saturday, The Last Stand got off to a very good start on Friday, grossing $44.5 million (only about $3 million short of M:iIII's three-day total and at about 400 less venues), giving it a long weekend multiplier of 2.7, which is somewhat troubling. With a four-day weekend, the goal is to get your multiplier as close to 4.0 as possible or over. With The Last Stand being a sequel, we knew it was never going to get to that 4.0 as there were some midnight screenings on Thursday night, and a rush of fanboys seeing it opening day.

David Mumpower reported a Saturday gross of $32.1 million, a significant drop from the Friday figure, when usually the Saturday number is the big figure for the weekend. Sunday's gross has been estimated at $25.5 million, and Monday estimated at about $17 million. The total for the weekend comes in $35 million shy of the domestic total of the original X-Men flick, which finished with a domestic gross of $157.3 million. This four-day gross is also bigger than the domestic totals for some very big films. The Last Stand's first four days beat the domestic totals for Van Helsing ($120.2 million), Fahrenheit 9/11 ($119.1 million) and Walk the Line ($119.5 million). The Memorial Day Weekend will be forever changed by this tally, as it shows what films have the potential to gross over the long weekend in May, and what films can gross over any given weekend.

Reviews for this X-Men were not as kind as those directed by Bryan Singer, but obviously they had no impact this. At RottenTomatoes, 154 reviews were counted, and 82 came in as fresh, and 72 not so fresh. The first two X-Men flicks were decidedly fresh, with the original garnering an 80% fresh rating and the sequel an 87% fresh rating. What does this mean for the third film in the series? Most likely very little; however, it could be hurt in the legs department if fans agree with critics even in the smallest sense (read below for an example with the Da Vinci Code). The first film in the series had an open-to-domestic total multiplier of 2.9, the second a hair above 2.5, as sequel-itis outweighed the reviews. If this one has a open-to-total multiplier of around 2.3, it will finish with around $300 million, not bad for a film with so-so reviews. With a film like X-Men: The Last Stand, everything is extremely dependent on the opening weekend gross, and this X-Men has come and conquered.

On a personal note, I hope this gross will open people's eyes to what the box office can be when audiences are given something they want to see. A three-day gross of $47 million for a film like Mission: Impossible III is no longer impressive, and leans more on the flop side of the equation. X-Men: The Last Stand had a lot less manufactured hype than the Da Vinci Code had last weekend, but even the three-day gross finished $25 million ahead of the Tom Hanks film. The Spider-Man record should have been obliterated a few years ago, yet that $114.8 million gross still leaves people panting. The number and size of venues in 2006 is monstrous, and the ability to show a print on more than one screen should be putting the advantage towards the studios. Again, had it not been for studios being extremely out of touch with the audiences, box office would have never dipped over the past year and a half. I still have extreme reservations about what is coming over the rest of the summer, but at least studios and exhibitors have two weekends of bliss over this month of May.

Second place, and maybe more of a victim of the theatre shuffle than the extremely bad reviews, is The Da Vinci Code. The Ron Howard film grossed a less godly $43 million this weekend from 3,754 venues over the four-day weekend. Using the three-day figure of $34 million, that's a monstrous drop of 56% compared to the huge opening weekend when Da Vinci debuted to $77.1 million. Next weekend will be a better indication of where the religious thriller is heading, as screenings of Da Vinci would have been shifted to smaller venues to open up larger venues for X-Men: The Last Stand. The domestic total after two big weekends sits at $145.5 million, not bad for a film that has huge international revenues and a $125 million production budget. Sony and Fox (distributor of X-Men: The Last Stand) will be big winners this summer. As for the rest of the summer crop, I think we are still in a wait-and-see position.

Over the Hedge, the DreamWorks-produced, Paramount-distributed movie, also had a huge Memorial Day weekend. Over the Hedge grossed $35.3 million over the four-day weekend and $27.3 million over the three-day, Friday-to-Sunday portion of the weekend. Using the three-day figure, Over the Hedge was down only 29% compared to its debut frame, where it grossed $38.5 million. Considering how busy the top three films were this weekend, that's an excellent hold for this animated film. Next weekend will be very exciting, I think, as this well-reviewed kids flick should hold well until Pixar's Cars opens on June 9th. Currently, Over the Hedge sits with a huge $84.4 million in the domestic kitty.


In fourth is Mission: Impossible III, and it will be forever looking up at the huge grosses of X-Men: The Last Stand and The Da Vinci Code. MiIII grossed $8.6 million over the four-day portion of the weekend and $6.6 million over the three-day portion of the weekend. The three-day represents a drop of 41% compared to last weekend, as the Tom Cruise flick quickly rockets down from grace. While not a disaster for Paramount, the domestic total of $115.8 million has to be about two-thirds of what the studio was expecting from this one at this point. This will never be a $200 million earner, and will be lucky to match its production cost of $150 million domestically.

Poseidon sinks to fifth this weekend and the folks at WB have to be extremely worried about their jobs after this absolute train wreck. Poseidon grossed $7 million over the long weekend, and over the three days, grossed only $5.9 million. The three-day gross represents a drop of 36%, and while it isn't a bad drop, it's way too late to save this flop. This $160 million film has now grossed only $46.6 million, and will be extremely lucky to see $70 million at the domestic box office.

RV had another great weekend, as it finishes sixth this frame, and maybe the oddest news is that it could beat both MiIII and Poseidon next weekend. The Robin Williams comedy grossed $5.3 million over the four-day, and $4.1 million over the three-day portion of the weekend. The three-day equals a drop of only 18%, a fantastic score considering the family competition from Over the Hedge. This $50 million film has now had drops of 33%, 10%, 50% and now 18%. Expect another good hold next weekend, and another increase on its current domestic tally of $57.2 million.

See No Evil, the WWE/Lionsgate presentation, got no help this weekend, and continued to slide towards the abyss. Over the long weekend, See No Evil grossed $3.2 million, and over the three-day portion of the weekend, $2.6 million. The three-day represents a drop of 43%, and this horror flick now has a domestic gross of $9.2 million, albeit versus a budget of only $8 million. With the wrestling connection, this one could be popular on home video, and be another good score for the folks at Lionsgate.

Just My Luck continues to flail in the lower regions of the top ten, this time finishing eighth as the shine comes of Lindsay Lohan somewhat. JML grossed $2.3 million (four day) and $1.8 million (three-day), which equals a drop of 46%. Just My Luck has now earned $13.9 million.

Ninth and tenth are hardly worth mentioning. Number nine went to United 93 with $1.1 million over four days, and tenth went to An American Haunting with $900,000 over the long weekend. Better news came in limited release with Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, the much-needed documentary about global warming. Over three-days, An Inconvenient Truth grossed $282,000 from only four venues, giving it an exciting average of $70,500.

Overall this weekend, we don't have a Memorial Day Weekend record, however, thanks mostly to X-Men: The Last Stand, we have a top three that grossed just shy of $200 million. The top ten for the four-day portion of the long weekend pulled in $227 million, which compares nicely with 2005's $224 million, 2004's $237 million and 2003's $189 million and 2002's $181 million. Again, I have serious doubts as to whether this trend will continue, but for now, studios and exhibitors should be very tired after a very busy weekend.

Top Ten for Weekend of May 26-29, 2006
of Sites
Percetage Drop (3-day)
Gross (4-day) ($)
Gross ($)
1 X-Men: The Last Stand 3,690 New $120.1 $120.1
2 The Da Vinci Code 3,754 -56% $43.0 $145.5
3 Over the Hedge 4,093 -30% $35.3 $84.4
4 Mission: Impossible III 3,053 -41% $8.6 $115.8
5 Poseidon 3,245 -40% $7.0 $46.6
6 RV 2,481 -18% $5.3 $57.2
7 See No Evil 1,270 -43% $3.2 $9.2
8 Just My Luck 1,604 -46% $2.3 $13.9
9 United 93 781 -42% $1.1 $29.9
10 An American Haunting 748 -51% $0.9 $14.9



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