Cars Wrestles with Nacho Libre for Top Spot

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for June 16-18, 2006

By John Hamann

June 18, 2006

Come on, it's a nice day for a White Wedding.

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There was some frenetic action at the box office this weekend, some of it good, some of it bad. Four films opened, putting pressure on some strong holdovers from previous weekends. The average drop for the holdovers ended up at a large 55%, leaving some room for the new films. Heading into the weekend, we knew it was going to be a showdown between openers Nacho Libre and the latest Fast and Furious sequel. However, these two films cannibalized each other to some extent, and last weekend's champ, the Disney/Pixar effort Cars, repeats at number one.

The number one film for the second straight weekend is Cars, John Lasseter's directorial follow-up to Toy Story 2. Cars again did great business; however, its second weekend percentage drop is one of the highest in Pixar history. Cars grossed $31.2 million from 3,988 venues, equaling a loss of 48% compared to its debut frame last weekend. Pixar has always been the definition of box office legs, so let's have a look at how the other Pixar films have performed in their second weekends. The Incredibles, Pixar's last film, dropped 29% in its second weekend, earning $50.3 million after debuting to $70.5 million. In 2003, Finding Nemo dropped 34% to $46.6 million after opening to $70.3 million. Monsters, Inc., whose opening weekend was a Cars-like $62.6 million, dropped only 27% to $45.6 million. Toy Story 2 still has the biggest second weekend drop of all the Pixar films, as it fell some 52% from $57.4 million to $27.8 million. With Toy Story 2, the big drop was expected, as it was a sequel, and frontloading is exacerbated when audiences are familiar with characters and concepts.

The good news for Cars is that it crossed the $100 million mark on Saturday, only its ninth day of release. That's a day later than The Incredibles and Finding Nemo; however, Nemo opened to $10 million more, and The Incredibles had a holiday Thursday prior to its second weekend. Much has been made in the press over the last week about the weekend box office returns for Cars. Right now its total sits at $114.5 million, well behind Nemo's $144 million after ten days, The Incredibles' $143.3 million, and even behind that of Monster's Inc.'s $122.2 million. Next weekend will be key for Cars; The Incredibles and Monster's Inc. dropped quickly after Christmas, with the pair finishing with around $250 million. Finding Nemo, however, is notorious for its legs; it finished with a domestic total of $339.7 million, had six weekends over $10 million and earned over $1 million for 14 consecutive weekends. Unless something very strange happens, that's not going to occur here, especially with Superman Returns coming next weekend. With the big drop this weekend, the domestic box office for Cars should end up somewhere between $220 and $235 million; however, that estimate will be easier to make after facing off against Superman next weekend.

In second spot, Jack Black and the Nacho Libre crew earned an extremely solid $27.5 million, surpassing most analysts' expectations (however BOP's own Kim Hollis and David Mumpower nailed it with an estimate of $27 million). Jack Black's star continues to rise with the release of Nacho Libre, as the versatile comedian proves again that something that maybe shouldn't be funny absolutely can be. Combining the cult power of Black with the cult following of everything Napoleon Dynamite (via director and screenwriter Jared Hess), Paramount has a huge hit on their hands. Nacho was actually the number one film on Friday night (and had it not been for the unnecessary Fast and Furious sequel, it would have won the weekend) with a gross of $10.9 million. Given the weekend estimate, that makes for a not-great weekend multiplier of 2.5. Paramount may have spent more promoting Nacho than producing it, as it cost only $25 million to make. Marketing was of the ambush variety via the TV ad, something we haven't seen with the blockbusters of late (cough cough Mission: Impossible III). The strategy worked well. Black's School of Rock opened to $19.6 million, and Shallow Hal, where he teamed up Gwyneth Paltrow, opened to $22.5 million. Hal finished its domestic run with $70.8 million, and Rock ran up $81.3 million. While reviews are questionable (39% fresh at RT), they are of the love-it or hate-it variety, so this could become another flick that achieves cult status, and enjoys a long run in theatres and on home video.

Third spot goes to Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, the unnecessary, irresponsible third film in the street racing trilogy. Tokyo Drift managed to earn $24.1 million from 3,027 venues, well off the debut figures of its predecessors. Back in June 2001, the first F+F opened to $40.1 million; in 2003, the follow-up improved on that score, grossing $50.5 million over its opening frame. Rather than hanging the big drop from part two to part three on the absence of Paul Walker, let's call this franchise fatigue and move on.

The Lake House finishes fourth, as the Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock love story couldn't play with the big boys this weekend. The Lake House debuted with $13.7 million this weekend from 2,645 venues, giving it a solid venue average of $5,166. This is a better start than the Reeves/Charlize Theron nightmare Sweet November, which opened to $11 million in 2001. It is right in the ballpark of 2004's surprise hit The Notebook, which found $13.5 million over its opening frame before going on to earn over $80 million. Legs are less likely to happen here, as this one got worse reviews than the Fast and Furious sequel. Only 28 critics out of 96 at RottenTomatoes liked this enough to give it a thumbs up (29% fresh), however a big thumbs up comes from Roger Ebert, which may fool a few people.

After the romantic film comes the anti-romantic film in The Break-Up, the picture that opened strong for Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. Since that big opening, though, this one has fallen on hard times; this weekend it earned $9.5 million, off a big 53% from the previous frame. Last weekend The Break-Up dropped 48%, so you can see that this one is fading somewhat fast. Still, The Break-Up has a domestic gross so far of $91.9 million, and could cross the $100 million mark next weekend. Not bad for a film that cost only $50 million to make.


Our last opener is Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, the second really unnecessary sequel in the top ten this weekend. The Garfield sequel fared much worse than the Fast and Furious sequel, opening to $7.2 million, which compares poorly with its predecessor, as the first Garfield flick opened to $21 million in June of 2004. One thing we know for sure is that critics really don't like Garfield. Only six reviewers out of 50 found something to like here, giving it an awful rating of 12% (but totally expected) at RottenTomatoes. 20th Century Fox may try to spin that Cars dominated the demographic, but don't believe it. I'd say audiences just didn't want to sit through another one of these pictures. Can we blame them?

X-Men: The Last Stand finishes seventh (although that could change with final numbers tomorrow), and has another huge drop. X3 earned $7.2 million in its fourth frame, down 56% from last weekend. Since its huge $100 million plus opening, X3 has had drops of 67%, 53% and now 56%. The good news is that the domestic gross has reached $215.5 million and the overseas gross is on its way to $200 million. The comic book sequel has dusted its predecessor, X2, as that one finished with $214 million. Domestically, X3 should end up with about $250 million and then have a huge life on DVD, with a Christmas box set is sure to be on the way.

The Omen falls off a cliff, finishing eighth as it gets some horror competition from the Garfield and Fast and Furious sequels. The Omen earned a slight $5.4 million, dropping a huge 67% from the previous frame. IMDb lists a $60 million budget, and with a gross so far of $46.9 million, doesn't look like the domestic gross will surpass the budget by much, despite having a $10 million plus opening day.

Ninth goes to The Da Vinci Code after finishing fifth last weekend. The Tom Hanks/Ron Howard flick grossed $5 million in its fifth weekend, down a large 52% compared to the previous frame. The thriller now has $198.5 million in the domestic kitty, and will cross the $200 million mark sometime next week. Call me crazy, but I think this one could have been bigger domestically. Sony will have to settle with about $220 million domestic, and over $450 million in overseas grosses.

Over the Hedge rounds out the top ten, as the opening of Pixar's Cars has decimated it. The DreamWorks produced, Paramount distributed product earned $4 million in its fifth weekend, dropping a huge 60% compared to the previous frame. Prior to the release of Cars, weekend-to-weekend drops for Over the Hedge came in at 30% and 24%. During the release of Cars, drops went up to 50% last weekend and 60% this weekend. Despite that, this has still been a very successful outing for this animated product, as its domestic total sits at $138.8 million.

Overall, things are up, up, up at the box office. The top ten this weekend earned a combined $134.6 million. That compares favorably with 2005's top ten total of $127.2 million and with 2004's top ten total of $128 million. With what looks like a very good Superman film returning next weekend, the box office could be starting a big roll. Check back next weekend to see how it all unfolds.

Top Ten for Weekend of June 16-18, 2006
of Sites
Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 Cars 3,988 -48% $31.2 $114.5
2 Nacho Libre 3,070 New $27.5 $27.5
3 The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift 3,027 New $24.1 $24.1
4 The Lake House 2,645 New $13.7 $13.7
5 The Break-Up 3,141 -53% $9.5 $91.9
6 Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties 2,946 New $7.2 $7.2
7 X-Men: The Last Stand 2,812 -56% $7.2 $215.5
8 The Omen 2,723 -67% $5.4 $46.9
9 The Da Vinci Code 2,413 -52% $5.0 $198.5
10 Over the Hedge 2,606 -60% $4.0 $138.8
11 A Prairie Home Companion 767 -43% $2.6 $8.8
12 An Inconvenient Truth 404 +16% $1.8 $6.4



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