Cars Sputters to Top of Box Office

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for June 9-11, 2006

By John Hamann

June 11, 2006

They just don't make them like they used to.

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There was little question as to which film would be number one this weekend. The only question that remained was how big Cars, the first release under the new agreement between Disney and Pixar, would be. Cars dominated this weekend, but couldn't surpass other Pixar hits like The Incredibles and Finding Nemo, and even the Fox film Ice Age: The Meltdown, at least in terms of opening weekend. Other new films this weekend included the remake of The Omen, which had a huge opening day, and Robert Altman's Prairie Home Companion.

The number one film of the weekend is Cars, the new CG animated picture from Disney and Pixar. Most analysts were predicting an opening above $70 million, however Cars failed to reach that mark, earning $62.8 million instead. It debuted at 3,985 venues and earned an average of $15,759. As mentioned above, this is Pixar's third biggest opening, coming in behind 2003's Finding Nemo and 2004's The Incredibles, both of which opened to $70 million. Cars is surprisingly more in line with Monsters, Inc., which opened five years ago to $62.6 million, and with inflation adjusts to about $67 million. What happened? There are a few things to blame here, but before we go any further, it's suffice to say this is not a disastrous result to say the least, and at most only a slight disappointment.

Other than Shrek 2, the only animated films to gross more over opening weekend are The Incredibles and Nemo, and the surprisingly strong debut of Ice Age 2 ($68 million opening) earlier this year. With the Disney/Pixar brand name, this one could have/should have been bigger. Word-of-mouth was not as hot as it was for Incredibles/Nemo, and reviews indicated a similar story. The Incredibles was an amazing 97% fresh at RottenTomatoes, and Finding Nemo finished even better with a 98% fresh rating. Cars remained in second gear in terms of reviews, garnering 98 positive reviews out of a possible 127, leaving it with a 77% fresh rating. While any other film would be ecstatic with those notices, Pixar has been on a magical streak, and this has to be considered a slight letdown. Did audiences pick up on that? Maybe, but this is still a fabulous start nevertheless. It will be interesting to see if Cars can reach The Incredibles' domestic finish of $261.4 million, or Monsters, Inc.'s $256 million. Another factor for a slightly lower opening may have been the overall business at the box office this weekend. Six films finished with more than $10 million, which puts a strain on exhibitors to devote more and bigger venues to one film, which potentially puts the squeeze on the opening release.

As Tim Briody reported yesterday, Cars got off to a decent start on Friday with a gross of $19.5 million. Nemo had a first Friday of $20.2 million, and The Incredibles got off to a $20.5 million start, and both saw almost $10 million increases on their first Saturdays. Both of these films had a 3.4 internal multiplier. Cars proved to be not as strong on Saturday with a $22.9 million second day, and finished the frame with a more classic Disney-esque 3.2 weekend multiplier (in past June frames, Disney has opened a number of animated films that skewed more toward this trajectory). The future should still bode well for Cars; sure, it gets some competition next weekend from the Garfield sequel, but a good bet says that opening is soft, and is followed by a huge drop the next weekend. Cars will easily be this summer's third $200+ million domestic earner, with $250 million certainly not out of the question.

Second spot this weekend goes to The Break-Up, the Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston anti-romantic comedy that got off to the extremely hot start last weekend. The heat has worn off a bit, as the sophomore gross came in at $20.5 million, equaling a 48% drop. For a romantic comedy, that's a pretty big drop-off; however, considering The Break-Up's big open, the Cars start and the overall heat of box office this weekend, that drop is not that bad of a score. The Universal flick has now made $74.1 million, against a budget of about $55 million. This will easily be a $125 million film, something few would have expected only a few short weeks ago.


X-Men: The Last Stand slides to third, as its march down from glory has been swift. X3 earned $15.6 million, falling a large 54% from last weekend when it fell 67% compared to its awesome opening weekend. The Last Stand crossed the $200 million mark on Sunday, its 17th day of release, becoming the 13th fastest to reach that mark. Considering the size of the opening weekend, that's not much to brag about, but a current domestic gross of $201.7 million, and an international gross over $200 million certainly is.

The Omen limps into fourth spot after having a dazzling opening day last Tuesday. Over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of what is almost an opening week, The Omen earned an okay $15.5 million. However, since its opening on Tuesday, the Fox remake of the horror classic has earned a solid $35.7 million, thanks to a $12.6 million opening day. Yes, hardcore horror fans turned out in droves on 6-6-6, but after that, audiences waned seriously. Critics were hard on The Omen, with only 36 reviewers out of a possible 121 gave this one a positive notice, good for a rotten rating of 30%. This one will most likely disappear quickly.

The DreamWorks/Paramount combo Over the Hedge lands in fifth this weekend, hurt by Cars' large opening. Over the Hedge earned $10.3 million this weekend, off a rather large 50% compared to its $20.6 million haul last weekend. Competition rarely hurts the opening film; it's usually the also-ran that gets hammered when a similarly targeted film opens. The good news here is that Over the Hedge has already earned $130.3 million, with $175 million not out of the question.

Sixth spot goes to The Da Vinci Code, as the blockbuster manages to keep its drop below 50% for the second straight weekend. The Ron Howard flick grossed $10.3 million in its fourth weekend, receiving a drop of 45%. Da Vinci has now earned a stellar $189 million domestically, and will reach $200 million next weekend. The domestic gross isn't what Sony is watching anyway. Their eyes are on the $400+ million overseas gross that is growing quickly.

Robert Altman's latest, A Prairie Home Companion, also got off to a decent start, albeit on a Robert Altman level. The film with a cast of thousands opened to $4.7 million this weekend, however from only 760 venues. That gives it a venue average of $6,146 – the third best in the top ten. Prairie received decent, but not home run reviews, getting a Cars-like 78% fresh rating at RT. Still, for an Altman film this is a great start (its his biggest since Dr. T and the Women's open of $5 million), so there is something to celebrate here.

Mission: Impossible III languishes in eighth spot, as the Tom Cruise film gets buried under the rest of the summer's bonanzas. M:I3 grossed $3 million in its sixth weekend, down 35% compared to the previous frame. So far, the film with the $150 million budget has grossed $127.5 million domestically.

Ninth and tenth go to RV and Poseidon. RV grossed $2 million, was down 38% from last weekend, and now sits with $65 million. Poseidon earned $1.8 million, was down 47% and now has earned $54.9 million, against a huge budget of $160 million.

Overall, there is reason to celebrate. The top ten this weekend earned a combined total of about $146.5 million. That compares favorably with last year's top ten totals of $136.4 million, and falls just short of 2004's top ten haul of $151.3 million over the same weekend.

Top Ten for Weekend of June 9-11, 2006
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Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 Cars 3,985 New $62.8 $62.8
2 The Break-Up 3,073 -48% $20.5 $74.1
3 X-Men: The Last Stand 3,680 -54% $15.6 $201.7
4 The Omen 2,723 New $15.5 $35.7
5 Over the Hedge 3,527 -50% $10.3 $130.3
6 Da Vinci Code 3,319 -45% $10.3 $189.0
7 A Prairie Home Companion 760 New $4.7 $4.7
8 Mission: Impossible III 1,908 -35% $3.0 $127.5
9 RV 1,622 -38% $2.0 $65.0
10 Poseidon 1,724 -47% $1.8 $54.9



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