Borat Make Box Office Boffo

Weekend Wrap-Up for November 3-5, 2006

By John Hamann

November 5, 2006

Sacha Baron Cohen hired a bear when threats of lawsuits became apparent.

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Analysts picked our number two film, The Santa Clause 3: THe Escape Clause, as the supposed number one film this weekend, but it wasn't to be. The Tim Allen franchise took a giant leap backward as the third film in the series grossed $20.0 million, which compares poorly with the second film's opening take of $29 million. It has been a year of scheduling disasters and this is another example of that. Flushed Away, the other new family film opening this weekend, obviously cannibalized the opening of Santa Clause 3. However, this wasn't Disney's fault. The other two Santa Clause flicks all opened on the same weekend, so DreamWorks knew heading into the year that the holiday-themed, live-action flick would debut this weekend.

The first Santa Clause was a pleasant surprise, debuting to $19.3 million in November of 1994. It dropped only 11% to second in its sophomore weekend and returned to the number one spot for two more weekends after that. It went on to earn $144 million domestically. The sequel opened to $29 million in 2002 and dropped only 15% in its second frame. The Santa Clause 2 ended up with $139 million at the domestic box office. The third film won't be so lucky. Throughout its run it will have to deal with Flushed Away, and in two week's time will have to contend with the animated Happy Feet from Warner Bros. Santa Clause 3 will have trouble reaching $100 million this time around, against a budget most likely in the $70 million area. As much as I hate to say it, Martin Short carries the box office curse, and may have been bit with the bug when working with Dennis Quaid on Innerspace in 1987. Since then, he's appeared in many films that should have finished better, like Treasure Planet, The Prince of Egypt, Jungle 2 Jungle, and Mars Attacks!


Flushed Away finishes third this weekend, with a gross that is higher than this analyst expected. Instead of getting crushed by Santa Claus, Flushed Away held up well in the face of adversity, grossing $19.1 million from 3,707 venues. It opened on about 300 more venues than Santa Clause 3, and finished the weekend with a venue average of $5,152. I thought this Aardman production would open lower than their Wallace and Gromit flick, but in reality in opened very similarly to that of The Curse of Were-Rabbit's $16 million. The W&G flick ended quite poorly, finishing with a domestic total of $56 million, something that I doubt will happen with Flushed Away. Wallace and Gromit had a large built-in audience, whereas Flushed Away's is much broader. I expect decent holds until Happy Feet debuts in two weekends.

Fourth spot goes to last weekend's big winner in Saw III. The slash and gash flick did exactly that in its second weekend, as it grossed $15.5 million and carried a huge (but expected) drop of 54%. Lionsgate doesn't care, as Saw III earned its budget in its first two days of release, and now sits with $60.1 million.

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