Weekend Box Office (February 6 - 8, 2004)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The comedy sequel Barbershop 2: Back in Business and the Olympic hockey drama Miracle gave the North American box office a much-needed boost by attracting strong sales in their debuts as the pair took home the gold and silver medals, respectively. The weekend's other new wide opener, the youth actioner Catch That Kid, disappointed in its bow landing in sixth place. Overall, most holdovers experienced small declines, however the marketplace remained below year-ago levels.

Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer led the box office with the top spot debut of Barbershop 2 which grossed $24.2M, according to final studio figures. Playing in 2,711 theaters, the PG-13 film averaged a solid $8,942 for MGM and outgrossed the opening of the first Barbershop which took in $20.6M in September 2002 on its way to a $75.8M total. The first Barbershop, however, averaged a more powerful $12,852 from 1,106 fewer theaters.

In the sequel, Ice Cube's legendary haircutting establishment comes under competition from a slick new rival salon that tries to move in across the street. Most of the cast including Eve and Sean Patrick Thomas returned for the sequel while newcomers like Queen Latifah were also added. The budget on the new chapter surged to a still-manageable $30M which was more than double the $12M negative cost of the first installment. Barbershop 2 also generated the fourth-best opening ever in February.

Opening in second place was Disney's uplifting ice hockey tale Miracle starring Kurt Russell which scored $19.4M. Averaging a strong $7,439 per theater from 2,605 locations, the PG-rated drama chronicles the story behind the U.S. Olympic hockey team's run to gold medal glory in 1980 when they defeated the favored Soviet championship squad. The studio's plan to offer sneak previews on the day before the Super Bowl last weekend certainly helped spread good buzz a week before the national bow.

Pummeled by the opening of Barbershop 2, Sony's urban dance drama You Got Served plunged 53% to $7.5M in its sophomore frame. The $8M production has grossed $25.9M in ten days and should find its way to $40-45M.

Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller saw their comedy Along Came Polly drop down just 27% to $6.8M lifting the cume for the Universal hit to $75M. New Line's Ashton Kutcher thriller The Butterfly Effect fell 32% to $6.5M and has captured $41.3M in 17 days.

Opening in sixth place to weak results was Fox's pre-teen caper pic Catch That Kid which took in $5.8M from 2,844 theaters. The PG-rated film boasted the most theaters of the weekend's three new releases, but wound up with the worst gross and the lowest average with a dismal $2,046 per site. Kid was produced for $18M.

Marching closer to Oscar victory, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King eased just 19% and captured another $4.3M in its eighth weekend of release boosting the cume to $351.1M. The final chapter of the trilogy is now running 9.4% ahead of The Two Towers and 29% ahead of The Fellowship of the Ring. Adding to its arsenal of statues, King was honored by the DGA on Saturday with its Outstanding Directorial Achievement Award going to Peter Jackson. The DGA winner almost always goes on to win the Academy Award for Best Director.

Clint Eastwood's Oscar-nominated crime drama Mystic River slipped only 17% to $3.6M for a total of $69.9M. The Charlize Theron-Christina Ricci drama Monster expanded from 668 to 892 theaters and collected $3.5M as well. Up 4%, the NewMarket release averaged $3,939 and raised its cume to $15.3M. The Miramax Oscar contender Cold Mountain dropped 20% to $3.2M in its seventh weekend and has grossed $82.9M to date.

Fox Searchlight scored a powerful platform debut for its NC-17 pic The Dreamers which opened with $142,632 from only five theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Averaging a stunning $28,526 per venue, the Bernardo Bertolucci film about the relationships of a trio of young adults in 1968 Paris will expand to over 50 theaters on Friday in 15 markets. Despite the rating, the distributor has been able to successfully secure exhibitors and advertising and plans to widen again on February 20 before a national expansion on March 5.

Golden Globe winner for foreign language film Osama debuted over the weekend in four houses in New York and Los Angeles and grossed $51,969 for UA. Averaging a promising $12,992 per theater, the Afghan drama will continue to expand to additional markets throughout the month.

Four films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Sony's Tim Burton pic Big Fish slipped 31% to $3.2M lifting the total to $59.7M. Look for the $70M fantasy drama to end its story with a domestic tally matching its cost. The Paramount high school pic The Perfect Score fell 41% to $2.9M for a ten-day sum of $8.4M. Budgeted at around $20M, the S.A.T. heist film looks to put its pencils down with $16-18M.

The Steve Martin family comedy Cheaper by the Dozen fell 41% to $2.5M giving the Fox title $131.3M. By next week, the blockbuster will surpass the $132.7M of last spring's Bringing Down the House to become Martin's highest-grossing pic ever. A final cume of $137-140M for the $40M-budgeted Cheaper seems likely. DreamWorks saw it teen comedy Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! plunge 61% to $1.6M leaving the pic with $15.6M. The PG-13 film cost $24M and looks to conclude with a disappointing $17-19M.

The top ten films grossed $85M which was down 12% from last year when How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days opened at number one with $23.8M; but up 8% from 2002 when Collateral Damage debuted on top with $15.1M.

Compared to projections, Barbershop 2 opened on target with my $24M forecast while Miracle debuted stronger than my $15M prediction. Catch That Kid bowed below my $9M projection.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the opening of 50 First Dates. In last week's survey, readers were asked if they thought Mystic River would reach $100M. Of 2,208 responses, the voting was evenly split between Yes and No.

For a review of Barbershop 2, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when 50 First Dates opens over the Presidents Day holiday frame.

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

# Title Feb 6 - 8 Jan 30 - Feb 1 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Barbershop 2 $ 24,241,612 2,711 1 $ 8,942 $ 24,241,612 MGM
2 Miracle 19,377,577 2,605 1 7,439 19,377,577 Buena Vista
3 You Got Served 7,518,860 16,123,105 -53.4 1,943 2 3,870 25,865,203 Sony
4 Along Came Polly 6,846,305 9,310,060 -26.5 2,958 4 2,315 75,046,055 Universal
5 The Butterfly Effect 6,512,743 9,556,280 -31.8 2,519 3 2,585 41,312,767 New Line
6 Catch That Kid 5,824,860 2,847 1 2,046 5,824,860 Fox
7 LOTR: The Return of the King 4,293,671 5,310,803 -19.2 1,878 8 2,286 351,133,343 New Line
8 Mystic River 3,638,203 4,378,417 -16.9 1,370 18 2,656 69,880,053 Warner Bros.
9 Monster 3,513,456 3,369,353 4.3 892 7 3,939 15,291,762 NewMarket
10 Cold Mountain 3,242,434 4,074,047 -20.4 1,917 7 1,691 82,869,814 Miramax
11 Big Fish 3,151,302 4,533,655 -30.5 1,617 9 1,949 59,715,819 Sony
12 The Perfect Score 2,863,821 4,873,819 -41.2 2,208 2 1,297 8,414,357 Paramount
13 Something's Gotta Give 2,583,857 3,353,974 -23.0 1,237 9 2,089 115,488,095 Sony
14 Cheaper by the Dozen 2,520,248 4,285,230 -41.2 1,662 7 1,516 131,345,987 Fox
15 Lost in Translation 1,731,915 2,156,557 -19.7 630 22 2,749 39,853,665 Focus
16 Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! 1,638,287 4,211,395 -61.1 1,522 3 1,076 15,562,178 DreamWorks
17 Master and Commander 1,339,567 2,106,759 -36.4 1,101 13 1,217 89,605,191 Fox
18 The Big Bounce 1,273,483 3,336,374 -61.8 2,304 2 553 5,696,176 Warner Bros.
19 Calendar Girls 1,219,194 2,520,998 -51.6 928 8 1,314 27,014,384 Buena Vista
20 Girl with a Pearl Earring 1,102,023 1,354,893 -18.7 402 9 2,741 5,822,504 Lions Gate
Top 5 $ 64,497,097 $ 45,174,067 42.8
Top 10 85,009,721 66,656,811 27.5
Top 20 104,433,418 88,322,844 18.2
Top 20 vs. 2003 104,433,418 112,686,253 -7.3

Last Updated : February 9, 2004 at 5:30PM EST

Gitesh Pandya can be seen each Friday on "The Biz" airing at 12:30pm and 9:30pm ET on CNNfn.