Dancers Stomp Ben Stiller
By David Mumpower
January 15, 2007
After an impressive three weeks at number one, Night at the Museum slips a notch into second place over the extended holiday weekend. Another $21.5 million gives the Ben Stiller CGI-intensive comedy $190.2 million after 25 days of release. With only $10 million needed to surpass Ice Age: The Meltdown and Superman Returns, the comedy blockbuster is poised to become one of the top five domestic earners released in 2006 by this time next week. The Da Vinci Code's $217.5 million is definitely in reach as well with X-Men: The Last Stand's $234.4 million a distinct possibility. Stating the obvious, Night at the Museum is a huge success story for Fox.
Speaking of success stories, Will Smith's latest $100 million earner continues to impress. An estimated four-day total of $11 million gives the Smith and Sony production a running tally of $138.4 million, making it one of the most successful pure dramas in recent memory. The third place finish this weekend is the logical sequential showing for a movie that started in first before holing up in second during Night at the Museum's run of dominance. At this point, it is hard to argue the point that Will Smith is the most reliable box office draw in Hollywood.
Dreamgirls has an eye on bigger prizes with this evening's Golden Globes Awards. In the interim, the Beyonce musical will have to settle for fourth place over the holiday. Another $10.2 million over the four days after $8.6 million in three days last weekend gives the Dreamworks/Paramount production a grand total of $67.1 million. Considering the way that the movie died in days two, three and four after its scintillating debut (as I chronicled in the Twelve Days of Box Office), this has to be considered a satisfactory result. If the movie attains momentum tonight, however, $100 million remains a strong possibility.
Last weekend saw the debut of a Dangerous Minds clone called Freedom Writers. The Hilary Swank project earned $9.4 million, making it the "hit" out of a batch of miserable new January releases. That momentum was temporarily sustained by the holiday, allowing the inspirational story about a teacher making a difference to bag another $8.8 million. A running tally of $20.1 million is frankly more than I thought this movie would earn in theaters. Another $11 million would allow Freedom Writers to surpass the totals of The Black Dahlia and The Core, making it the third most successful movie of Swank's career after Million Dollar Baby and Insomnia.
Justin Timberlake took time out from his busy schedule of getting dumped by Cameron Diaz to star in the fifth most popular movie this week, Alpha Dog. The Nick Cassavetes movie about a kidnapping and its impact on a bunch of drug abusers earned an estimated $7.6 million over four days. That's barely half of what the director's last movie, The Notebook, earned ($13.4 million) on its way to $81.0 million in domestic receipts. Of course, this sordid tale based on the life of Jesse James Hollywood, a 20-year-old who found himself on the FBI's Most Wanted list, is a much harder sell. But Universal has to be disappointed that Timberlake's teenage fan-base refused to follow him into theaters. Between this movie and Edison (aka Edison Force on video), Timberlake's fledgling acting career is off to the sort of rough start that would drive a poorer person to porn.
The buzz movie of this awards season is unquestionably Children of Men, a complicated science fiction production about a human race no longer capable of reproduction. The universally well-regarded Alfonso Cuarón project is becoming a box office sleeper, earning another $7.4 million over the holiday. This seventh place performance gives the Universal release $22.4 million after ten days of "wide" release. The platformer jumped from 16 exhibitions to 1,209 last weekend and has added another 299 now. With growing awareness from more mainstream consumers, this project should evolve into one of the most memorable outputs from 2006. Already being hailed as the Blade Runner of our era, it should make a killing on the home video market after its currently successful box office run is complete. Of course, a reported budget of $72 million does put a damper on a lot of this optimism.