Rock’s Gridiron Gang Tops Another
Slow Frame at the Box Office

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for September 15-17, 2006

By John Hamann

September 17, 2006

Keep that hand above my shoulder, bub

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Despite another quartet of new releases at the box office this weekend, viewer apathy continued to reign, and we are left with another low-grossing frame. New films resembled those of recent weekends: A football movie starring The Rock; another CG-animated kids' film in Everyone's Hero; an anticipated-but-blah murder mystery in The Black Dahlia; and a genre-crossing film for young adults in The Last Kiss. Again, studios seem to be over-thinking green-lights, leaving us moviegoers to stay home and wait for better flicks.

The number one film of the weekend is Gridiron Gang, our second football movie in only a few short weeks. Not surprisingly, the Sony release opened in the same ballpark as Invincible, our last football drama which is still in the top ten. Gridiron Gang grossed a decent $15 million over its first three days, from a quite wide 3,504 venues. Because of the large venue count, Gridiron had to settle for second in terms of venue average, coming in at $4,280. As I said a few weeks ago with Invincible, these sports movies generally open in the same range - between $13 and $18 million - and then show decent legs due to their formulaic endings, which are then followed by decent word-of-mouth. Where Gridiron Gang lags behind its compatriots is in the review department. The Rock's effort received only 31 positive reviews out of a possible 72, leaving it with a Rotten rating of 43%. On the other hand, Mark Wahlberg's Invincible was 70% Fresh, and will most likely see better legs than Gridiron Gang. For star The Rock (AKA Dwayne Johnson), this open is right on par with his usual openings; however, this may be his first film to show some legs after open. The Rock managed to get both Doom and Walking Tall to open to $15.5 million, but Doom finished poorly with $28.2 million, and Walking Tall finished decently with $46.2 million. For Sony, this is no Ballad of Ricky Bobby, but it does wash some of the pain of Zoom and Crossover from the studio's collective mindset. Next weekend Sony serves up an early Oscar contender in All the King's Men, starring Sean Penn and Anthony Hopkins. The best news for Gridiron Gang may be held for The Rock, as it proves he can still open a film over $10 million, even when not holding a gun.

Second spot this weekend goes to The Black Dahlia, the long-awaited adaptation of the James Ellroy whodunit. While it was long-awaited and highly anticipated, the Universal release still had to settle for second this frame. The Black Dahlia grossed a somewhat disappointing $10.4 million in her debut weekend, maybe proving once and for all that Josh Hartnett had only one good role in him, that being Trip Fontaine in Sofia Coppola's Virgin Suicides. Universal rolled out their $70 million production to only 2,226 venues this round, leaving it with the best venue average in the top ten at $4,654. That middling venue count will either give The Black Dahlia room to grow next weekend or it will save Universal some funds on prints. This was BOP's number one pick for the fall season, but despite its awesome cast (Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Hillary Swank and Aaron Eckhart), viewer apathy relegated this one to the cheap seats this weekend. Reviews didn't help. The Brian De Palma flick gathered mostly mixed to negative reviews, and by Friday had the worst reviews of the opening films. At RottenTomatoes, only 34 reviewers out of a possible 109 liked it enough to give it a positive review, leaving it with an awful 31% rating. Personally, I didn't like Universal's choice of Hartnett or De Palma (the director hasn't made a truly good film since 1993's Carlito's Way), and the release date didn't bode well for film quality either. Chalk it up as another good idea gone wrong, and we're back to the drawing board.


There's a large tumble in box office receipts as the drop off from second to third is precipitous this weekend. Third spot goes to Everyone's Hero, Christopher Reeve's CG-animated film from 20th Century Fox. Everyone's Hero was not everyone's first choice this weekend, as the baseball flick sold only $6.2 million worth of tickets. It debuted on Friday with 2,896 venues, and carried a sad sack average of $2,123. This is another CG product in a sea of CG products over the last month-and-a-half, and Mom and Dad simply can't afford or don't have the time to take in all of these animated films. This one didn't even review very well, with only a 45% Fresh rating at RT. Everyone's Hero will most likely disappear quickly from movie theatres and then reappear quickly at Blockbuster, where it will find much better success.

Fourth this weekend goes to our fourth consecutive opener, this time Zach Braff's The Last Kiss. The Paramount release never rose above the radar enough to gain any momentum, and is left with an opening weekend gross of $4.7 million, albeit from only 1,357 venues. Because of that low count, it did have a decent venue average of $3,464 but that's where the good news ends. Like all the openers this weekend, reviews for The Last Kiss weren't close to thrilling, with this supposed rom-com finishing with a Rotten rating of 48%. The Last Kiss is another release that will not help box office fortunes for the rest of the month of September, as weak product is bringing the box office down.

Speaking of weak September product, The Covenant falls from first place last weekend to fifth this outing. Last weekend's "winner" grossed only $4.7 million in its second frame, giving it a hefty drop of 47% (the drop would have been higher had the opening weekend and box office in general been more impressive). The Screen Gems release has now earned $15.7 million, and with three more new releases next round, this one could conceivably finish first one weekend, and be out of the top ten by weekend three. Ouch.

Sixth spot goes to our other football movie in the top ten, Mark Wahlberg's Invincible. The Disney release grossed $3.9 million this weekend and was off 31% from the previous frame, not bad considering the other successful football product. Invincible is our highest-grossing film in the top ten with a current total of $50.9 million.

Still lurking out there is The Illusionist, which finishes seventh this weekend, only one spot off from its last outing. The Illusionist grossed $3.8 million in its fifth weekend, and was off 17% compared to the previous frame. Freestyle Releasing added about 75 venues to The Illusionist's run this round, and the upstart studio has shown some real smarts with the platforming effort for this release. The Illusionist now sits with $23.3 million in the box office kitty, despite not seeing 1,500 venues throughout its run.

Landing in eighth this weekend is Little Miss Sunshine, Fox Searchlight's leggy Sundance pickup. Sunshine rang up $3.4 million at the box office this frame, off only 22% compared to its previous effort. The $10 million pickup has now earned $46.4 million for its studio, and will have no problem making it to $50 million.

The Black Dahlia stuck it to Hollywoodland this weekend, as the studio schedulers continue to show off their ineptitude. Hollywoodland fell from second last round to eighth spot this frame, as similar titles cannibalized each other. The re-emergence of Ben Affleck grossed $2.7 million this outing and was off a nasty 54% from the previous frame. Hollywoodland has now grossed $10.5 million, and will be extremely luck to see $20 million in box office receipts.

Finally in tenth is Crank. The Jason Statham actioner is another film to appear and disappear from the top ten. After debuting in second over the Labor Day long weekend only three frames ago, Crank is now tenth with a gross of only $2.7 million. It dropped 45%, and has a cumulative gross now of $24.4 million. So much for a $10 million-plus opener being a hit, however this one cost Lionsgate only $15 million to make, so there is some upside to this release.

Overall this weekend, the box office continues with its serious case of the blahs. The top ten this outing grossed only $57.3 million, and while that's a bit of an uptick over last frame, it is still a very low score. Last year over the same weekend, the top ten took in $66.5 million. Things should improve drastically next weekend, when Jackass 2 could out-gross last weekend's top ten films.

Top Ten for Weekend of September 15-17, 2006
of Sites
Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 Gridiron Gang 3,504 New $15.0 $15.0
2 The Black Dahlia 2,226 New $10.4 $10.4
3 Everyone's Hero 2,896 New $6.2 $6.2
4 The Last Kiss 1,357 New $4.7 $4.7
5 The Covenant 2,681 -47% $4.7 $15.7
6 Invincible 2,830 -31% $3.9 $50.9
7 The Illusionist 1,438 -17% $3.8 $23.3
8 Little Miss Sunshine 1,436 -22% $3.4 $46.4
9 Hollywoodland 1,551 -54% $2.7 $10.5
10 Crank 2,177 -45% $2.7 $24.4



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