Weekend Box Office (February 4 - 6, 2005)

*** Oscar Nominee Grosses ***

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Moviegoers showed once again how their thirst for scary films is virtually unquenchable powering the new fright flick Boogeyman to the number one spot over Super Bowl weekend. Meanwhile, football widows lined up for the romantic comedy The Wedding Date which finished in second place with strong results of its own. Most major holdovers performed well including the three Oscar nominees for Best Picture which continued to cruise in the top ten with declines of around 30% each.

Sony Pictures became the first studio of the new year to land a second top spot bow with the supernatural thriller Boogeyman which creeped into theaters and scared up $19M on opening weekend, according to final studio figures. The PG-13 release from producer Sam Raimi averaged a healthy $6,232 from 3,052 theaters and marked the third successful horror debut of the last five weeks following White Noise and Hide and Seek which opened to $24.1M and $22M, respectively. The studio paid just $7M for distribution rights, plus millions more for prints and advertising, and should find itself with another profitable title. Boogeyman began its marketing campaign on the right note with a trailer in front of last fall's horror blockbuster The Grudge which Raimi's production company Ghost House Pictures also released through Sony.

Also opening well this weekend was the new romantic comedy The Wedding Date which grossed $11.1M from only 1,695 theaters. The Debra Messing vehicle averaged a solid $6,566 per theater slightly outdistancing the average of Boogeyman. Budgeted at under $15M, the Universal release played mostly to adult women with exit polls showing that an overwhelming 75% of the audience was female and 51% was under 30. With the big game distracting so many men this weekend, the studio offered a counterprogramming option for those least likely to be interested in the Super Bowl. The move worked for the poorly-reviewed film and established Messing as an actress who could open a film.

Dropping one spot to third was Ice Cube's family comedy Are We There Yet? which posted another solid frame with $10.6M in its third outing. Sony has taken in $51.3M in 17 days giving the bankable rapper-turned-actor his seventh $50M+ hit. Robert De Niro's suspense hit Hide and Seek fell from first to fourth place this weekend grossing $8.9M in its sophomore frame. The Fox title tumbled 59% thanks in part to Boogeyman stealing much of its audience and put its ten-day gross at $35.7M. Budgeted at just under $30M, Hide and Seek could end its run with $50-55M.

Competing Academy Award nominees for Best Picture Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator followed with takes of $8.5M and $5.4M, respectively. Oscar buzz helped each film hold up well with the Clint Eastwood boxing drama slipping only 31% to a cume of $34.4M and Martin Scorsese's historical biopic easing back 28% putting its sum at $75.9M. The Leonardo DiCaprio starrer also edged past Ray to become the highest-grossing film among this year's crop of Best Picture candidates.

Universal's Meet the Fockers dropped 40% in its seventh weekend to $4.8M pushing the cume to $265.2M. That puts the comedy sensation at number 26 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters behind Shrek which took in $267.7M in 2001. Multiple Oscar nominee Sideways slipped only 27% to $4.7M giving the Fox Searchlight title $46.7M to date. Over the weekend, the acclaimed comedy surpassed the $45.9M of 1997's The Full Monty to become the top-grossing film in the distributor's ten-year history.

The talking farm animal film Racing Stripes held up well sliding to $4.3M, off 35%, for a $40.4M total. Paramount rounded out the top ten with Coach Carter which fell 47% to $4.2M as well and a $59.3M cume.

A pair of pics dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Universal's comedy In Good Company declined 47% to $3.3M pushing its total to $40.8M. The Dennis Quaid-Topher Grace film looks to finish with $45-50M. The studio's subsidiary Focus saw its action thriller Assault on Precinct 13 tumble 58% to $1.8M putting the 19-day cume at $17.9M. A $20M final seems likely.

MGM/UA doubled the run of its Oscar-nominated drama Hotel Rwanda expanding from 417 to 821 theaters and grossed $2.3M. Averaging a decent $2,821 per location, the Don Cheadle film has raised its cume to $11.2M. Like modestly-budgeted indies like Monster and Monster's Ball before it, Hotel Rwanda failed to secure a Best Picture nomination but has instead used its acting nods to help generate consumer interest at the box office.

The top ten films grossed $81.6M which was off 4% from last year when Barbershop 2 debuted at number one with $24.2M; and down 15% from 2002 when How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days opened in the top spot with $23.8M. In both years, the Super Bowl fell earlier on the calendar.

Compared to projections, Boogeyman opened two notches higher than my $17M forecast while The Wedding Date powered above my $6M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the opening of Will Smith's Hitch. In last week's survey, readers were asked which film would win the Oscar battle - The Aviator or Million Dollar Baby. Of 3,184 responses, 59% picked the Clint Eastwood film while 41% chose Martin Scorsese's epic.

For a NEW review of the Ray DVD, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Hitch and Pooh's Heffalump Movie both open.

Marketplace: Shop for videos, DVDs, music, books, and posters at discounted prices using search engines

# Title Feb 4 - 6 Jan 28 - 30 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Boogeyman $ 19,020,655 3,052 1 $ 6,232 $ 19,020,655 Sony
2 The Wedding Date 11,129,580 1,695 1 6,566 11,129,580 Universal
3 Are We There Yet? 10,614,455 16,346,395 -35.1 2,790 3 3,804 51,272,367 Sony
4 Hide and Seek 8,906,932 21,959,233 -59.4 3,005 2 2,964 35,714,609 Fox
5 Million Dollar Baby 8,515,365 12,265,482 -30.6 2,025 8 4,205 34,436,002 Warner Bros.
6 The Aviator 5,427,739 7,550,128 -28.1 2,530 8 2,145 75,895,720 Miramax
7 Meet the Fockers 4,807,635 8,026,165 -40.1 2,504 7 1,920 265,163,545 Universal
8 Sideways 4,657,390 6,347,364 -26.6 1,786 16 2,608 46,665,695 Fox Searchlight
9 Racing Stripes 4,282,291 6,538,292 -34.5 3,003 4 1,426 40,370,403 Warner Bros.
10 Coach Carter 4,233,812 8,015,331 -47.2 2,574 4 1,645 59,338,414 Paramount
11 In Good Company 3,341,960 6,242,825 -46.5 1,943 5 1,720 40,770,682 Universal
12 The Phantom of the Opera 2,609,040 4,033,481 -35.3 1,515 6 1,722 42,804,436 Warner Bros.
13 Finding Neverland 2,528,704 2,755,230 -8.2 1,411 12 1,792 39,410,213 Miramax
14 Hotel Rwanda 2,316,416 1,845,952 25.5 821 6 2,821 11,225,811 MGM/UA
15 Assault on Precinct 13 1,803,566 4,289,986 -58.0 1,370 2 1,316 17,868,500 Focus
16 Alone in the Dark 873,102 2,834,421 -69.2 2,124 1 411 4,663,908 Lions Gate
17 White Noise 864,230 2,815,650 -69.3 1,340 4 645 55,146,170 Universal
18 National Treasure 488,004 781,644 -37.6 458 11 1,066 168,373,373 Buena Vista
19 Lemony Snicket's A Series... 441,354 972,836 -54.6 630 7 701 116,652,720 Paramount
20 Elektra 413,965 1,411,578 -70.7 568 3 729 23,808,949 Fox
Top 5 $ 58,186,987 $ 66,612,606 -12.6
Top 10 81,595,854 97,581,201 -16.4
Top 20 97,276,195 116,910,357 -16.8
Top 20 vs. 2004 97,276,195 104,433,418 -6.9

Last Updated : February 7, 2005 at 9:30PM EST