Weekend Box Office (January 19 - 21, 2007)

*** Golden Globe Winners and Grosses ***

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Box office sales slumped as the top ten dipped to its worst level in four months with the college dance pic Stomp the Yard holding onto the top spot by a thin margin. Moviegoers ignored The Hitcher, the frame's only new wide release, which posted an underwhelming fourth-place debut. A handful of Oscar contenders expanded into wider release and saw encouraging results hoping to collect steady sales from serious film lovers in the weeks ahead. Overall, the marketplace was quiet as the gross for the number one film and the cume for the top ten were both the lowest since mid-September. Most films saw their estimated weekend grosses come down significantly when final data was issued on Monday.

Sony's low-budget hit Stomp the Yard spent another weekend at the top of the charts grossing $12.3M dropping 44% in its sophomore frame, according to final studio data. The PG-13 hit showed a decent hold since most films catering to teen and young adult audiences fall by steeper amounts on the second weekend. After ten days, the $14M-budgeted pic has grossed a stellar $40.6M and is on its way to reaching the vicinity of $65M. Stomp averaged a solid $5,991 from 2,051 theaters in its second step.

Close behind in second place was the Fox juggernaut Night at the Museum which took in $12M, off only 30%, boosting the cume to $204.9M. On Saturday, the PG-rated Ben Stiller film became the sixth 2006 release to join the double century club. Museum now ranks fifth among last year's releases and is likely to surpass the $217.5M of The Da Vinci Code to end off as the fourth biggest blockbuster released in 2006. With no major family films getting in its way in the coming weeks, Museum could find its way to nearly $240M from North America alone and over $450M worldwide.

Thanks to a trio of Golden Globes and 307 additional theaters, the hit musical Dreamgirls saw its Friday-to-Sunday slip just 4% to $8M Averaging a respectable $3,617 from 2,214 sites in its fourth full weekend of national play, the Paramount/DreamWorks pic upped its cume to $77.4M and is easily on its way to joining the $100M club. The studio continues to spend lavishly on advertising and is eagerly anticipating Tuesday's announcement of the Academy Award nominations. Dreamgirls is widely considered a shoo-in for a nomination for Best Picture, along with The Departed and Babel.

Showing that horror fans may be getting sick of Hollywood's endless line of fright film remakes, The Hitcher opened to disappointing results in fourth place with only $7.8M. The redo of the 1986 Rutger Hauer flick averaged only $2,758 from a very wide 2,835 theaters for Focus and its Rogue Pictures genre unit. The R-rated film was expected to perform better given that it was the only new choice for teens and young adults and the fact that it was given the widest bow in company history for its distributor. The good hold for Stomp the Yard and the solid expansion of Pan's Labyrinth which is pulling in fantasy and horror fans, may have contributed to the soft bow.

The Hitcher is the latest in a string of disappointments for Focus following Catch a Fire and The Return. Since last winter's Oscar-winning film Brokeback Mountain lassoed $83M, the distributor has seen most of its films underperform. The company saw an average domestic gross of just $13.4M from its eight wide releases in 2006 with Jet Li's Fearless being its top grosser with $24.6M.

Will Smith's The Pursuit of Happyness clocked its sixth weekend in the top five and grossed $6.3M, off only 29%, for a $146.1M cume. Sony should finish in the vicinity of $160M. Paramount's Hilary Swank drama Freedom Writers followed with $5.2M, down just 29%, giving the pic $26.5M in 17 days. Look for the film to end in the $35-40M range.

Guillermo del Toro's fantasy thriller Pan's Labyrinth jumped into the top ten thanks to its national expansion and claimed the number seven spot with $4.5M. The Picturehouse release enjoyed the best average among all wide releases taking in $7,393 per theater from 609 locations. Cume is $9.9M for the Spanish-language film. The futuristic drama Children of Men from director Alfonso Cuaron followed falling 42% to $3.7M for Universal pushing the cume to $27.5M.

Collecting $3.4M in ticket sales over the weekend was Miramax's The Queen which expanded from 344 to 1,586 theaters following its two Golden Globe wins for lead actress and screenplay. Averaging a mild $2,144 per site, the acclaimed drama hit the top ten for only the second time in its long 17-week run and posted its best weekend gross to date. It had always played in fewer than 800 theaters until now and the distributor hopes that the Globe wins, plus the expected Oscar nominations on Tuesday, will allow the Helen Mirren film to appeal to a wider audience going forward. Total stands at $35.6M and counting. Rounding out the top ten was MGM's Arthur and the Invisibles with $3.1M, down 28%, for a $9.3M cume. A final gross of around $15M seems likely.

The box office had a very international flavor this weekend as seven of the top twelve films were directed by filmmakers born outside of the United States.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Universal's kidnapping thriller Alpha Dog tumbled 53% in its second frame and took in $3M. With only $11.8M in the bank, the ensemble pic should sputter to a disappointing $15-17M final tally. Also crumbling in its sophomore frame was the horror film Primeval which crashed 69% and grossed $1.9M. Buena Vista has scared up just $9.6M in ten days and looks to conclude its run quickly with a poor $11M.

Paramount's kidpic Charlotte's Web has fared better over the holiday season and grossed $2.3M this weekend, down 38%. The family film has accumulated a solid $76.8M to date and should end its run with around $80M. Web bowed in mid-December with half the opening weekend gross of competing new release Eragon, but has now outgrossed the dragon adventure which currently stands at $72.3M.

A trio of Golden Globe winners expanded their runs and climbed up the charts. Paramount Vantage's Babel, which took home the Best Picture - Drama trophy, re-expanded from 173 to 889 theaters and took in $2.1M for a $23.7M total to date. Fox Searchlight boosted its cume for The Last King of Scotland by nearly 50% in one short weekend. The Forest Whitaker pic widened to 495 locations, from just four from last weekend, and collected $1.6M raising the total from $3.7M to $5.3M. Warner Bros. went from 35 to 360 locations for Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima which grossed $1.4M pushing the tally to $2.4M. Though not eligible for the Academy Award in the foreign language department, the Japanese-lingo pic is still considered a contender in the other Oscar categories.

The top ten films grossed only $66.3M which was off a disturbing 24% from last year when Underworld: Evolution opened at number one with $26.9M; and down 16% from 2005 when Are We There Yet? debuted on top with $18.6M.

Compared to projections, The Hitcher opened well below my $15M forecast. Stomp the Yard and Night at the Museum were both on target with my $12M prediction for each.

Check the updated charts for the Golden Globe winners and the Top 50 Blockbusters of 2006.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Epic Movie, Catch and Release, Blood and Chocolate, and Smokin' Aces all open.

On Friday, the annual Oscar Spotlight column returns for a weekly look at the top Academy Awards contenders featuring interviews with producers and studio executives.

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  • # Title Jan 19 - 21 Jan 12 - 14 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
    1 Stomp the Yard $ 12,287,352 $ 21,833,312 -43.7 2,051 2 $ 5,991 $ 40,550,946 Sony
    2 Night at the Museum 12,012,724 17,162,357 -30.0 3,483 5 3,449 204,852,656 Fox
    3 Dreamgirls 8,008,749 8,362,451 -4.2 2,214 6 3,617 77,415,704 Paramount
    4 The Hitcher 7,818,239 2,835 1 2,758 7,818,239 Focus
    5 The Pursuit of Happyness 6,310,133 8,901,206 -29.1 3,066 6 2,058 146,121,200 Sony
    6 Freedom Writers 5,207,062 7,324,853 -28.9 2,286 3 2,278 26,524,683 Paramount
    7 Pan's Labyrinth 4,502,243 2,169,002 107.6 609 4 7,393 9,932,414 Picturehouse
    8 Children of Men 3,710,945 6,371,335 -41.8 1,524 4 2,435 27,491,508 Universal
    9 The Queen 3,400,061 1,111,909 205.8 1,586 17 2,144 35,557,521 Miramax
    10 Arthur and the Invisibles 3,080,698 4,294,936 -28.3 2,248 2 1,370 9,272,106 MGM
    11 Alpha Dog 2,990,995 6,412,775 -53.4 1,292 2 2,315 11,787,810 Universal
    12 Charlotte's Web 2,335,120 3,786,488 -38.3 1,915 6 1,219 76,773,487 Paramount
    13 Babel 2,072,412 380,869 444.1 889 13 2,331 23,658,420 Par. Vantage
    14 The Good Shepherd 2,050,155 3,708,000 -44.7 1,571 5 1,305 57,602,410 Universal
    15 Primeval 1,878,287 6,048,315 -68.9 2,444 2 769 9,594,760 Buena Vista
    16 Blood Diamond 1,744,497 2,462,117 -29.1 955 7 1,827 50,627,655 Warner Bros.
    17 The Last King of Scotland 1,609,920 16,926 495 17 3,252 5,326,979 Fox Searchlight
    18 Rocky Balboa 1,578,171 2,779,180 -43.2 1,450 5 1,088 67,725,170 MGM
    19 Happily N'Ever After 1,562,814 3,128,897 -50.1 1,758 3 889 13,918,125 Lionsgate
    20 We Are Marshall 1,472,349 2,399,509 -38.6 1,440 5 1,022 41,078,532 Warner Bros.
    Top 5 $ 46,437,197 $ 63,584,179 -27.0
    Top 10 66,338,206 90,498,028 -26.7
    Top 20 85,632,926 114,851,110 -25.4
    Top 20 vs. 2006 85,632,926 111,976,108 -23.5

    Last Updated : January 22, 2007 at 6:30PM ET

    Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Friday at 9:50am ET.