Weekend Box Office (March 19 - 21, 2004)
by Gitesh Pandya
THIS WEEKEND Moviegoers lined up for recycled horror as the Universal remake Dawn of the Dead powered its way to a number one opening pushing three-week box office lord The Passion of the Christ to second place. The frame's other new titles, the Angelina Jolie serial killer pic Taking Lives and Jim Carrey's offbeat drama Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, both debuted with respectable results. For the fourth straight weekend, overall ticket sales were substantially higher than last year.
Blood-thirsty zombies ruled the multiplexes this weekend as Dawn of the Dead delivered a top spot bow with $26.7M, according to final studio figures, exceeding most industry expectations. Universal proved that there is plenty of money to be made from old horror films as the R-rated Dawn averaged a sizzling $9,735 from 2,745 theaters. The debut was similar to the bow of last October's remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre which opened with $28.1M and a $9,315 average before reaching a $80M tally.
As with most blood-and-guts flicks, young men were the core audience for Dawn. Males made up 57% of the crowd while 63% were under 25, according to studio research. Starring an ensemble cast including Ving Rhames, Sarah Polley, and Mekhi Phifer, the $26M horror remake drew from an ethnically diverse audience with 47% of sales coming from non-white moviegoers.
Taking the runner-up spot, The Passion of the Christ dropped 40% to $19.4M in its fourth frame and lifted its cume to a robust $295.5M. That puts the Mel Gibson hit at number 18 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters right behind Pirates of the Caribbean which grossed $305.4M last summer. Passion is still on course to reach the $350-375M range.
Angelina Jolie debuted in third place with her new crime thriller Taking Lives which opened with $11.5M from 2,705 theaters. Averaging a commendable $4,236 per location, the R-rated entry also stars Ethan Hawke and Kiefer Sutherland.
Falling 35% to fourth place was Starsky & Hutch which grossed $10.4M giving the Warner Bros. comedy $67.5M to date. The Johnny Depp thriller Secret Window plunged 49% in its second weekend to $9.3M putting the ten-day total at $32.8M. Sony's $35M film looks to reach $55-60M. Buena Vista's adventure film Hidalgo dropped 29% to $8.4M and pushed its total to $48.4M.
Jim Carrey's venture into more obscure dramatic fare landed the highly-paid actor in sixth place as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind bowed to $8.2M from only 1,353 sites. The Focus Features release averaged a solid, but not spectacular, $6,042 per venue. The R-rated Sunshine co-stars Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood, and Kirsten Dunst and drew overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics.
Agent Cody Banks 2 slipped 25% to $6M giving the MGM sequel a ten-day total of $17.3M. Placing ninth was Sony's 50 First Dates with $4.2M, off only 23%, for a cume of $113.1M. Rounding out the top ten was the Disney film Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen with $1.6M, down 37%, lifting the sum to $27.6M.
Three films fell from the top ten over the weekend. Paramount's Twisted tumbled 57% to $1.3M in its fourth frame and has banked $23.6M to date. The $60M Ashley Judd pic should finish with only $25-27M. Warner Bros. watched its political thriller Spartan fall 59% in its sophomore session to $827,275. With only $3.6M in ten days, the Val Kilmer film will end its run quickly with a dismal $5-6M.
Oscar champ The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King dipped 33% to $1.35M in its fourteenth weekend raising its blockbuster total to $373.4M. A final haul of about $378M seems likely. Overseas, the fantasy epic has vaulted to $710M putting the global gross at just under $1.1 billion.
The top ten films grossed $105.6M which was up 35% from last year when Bringing Down the House remained at number one with $16.2M; but down 7% from 2002 when Blade II opened in the top spot with $32.5M.
Compared to projections, Dawn of the Dead powered past my $21M forecast. Taking Lives and Eternal Sunshine both were on target with my respective predictions of $12M and $8M.
Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on this summer's new Harry Potter film. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Dawn of the Dead would open with at least $15M. Of 2,661 responses, 54% correctly chose Yes while 46% said No.
For a review of Dawn of the Dead visit The Chief Report.
Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Scooby Doo 2, The Ladykillers, Jersey Girl, and Never Die Alone all open.
Marketplace: Shop for videos, DVDs, music, books, and posters at discounted prices using search engines
|#||Title||Mar 19 - 21||Mar 12 - 14||% Chg.||Theaters||Weeks||AVG||Cumulative||Distributor|
|1||Dawn of the Dead||$ 26,722,575||2,745||1||$ 9,735||$ 26,722,575||Universal|
|2||The Passion of the Christ||19,414,377||32,130,978||-39.6||3,250||4||5,974||295,507,244||NewMarket|
|3||Taking Lives||11,458,465||2,705||1||4,236||11,458,465||Warner Bros.|
|4||Starsky and Hutch||10,392,443||16,018,291||-35.1||3,185||3||3,263||67,462,135||Warner Bros.|
|8||Agent Cody Banks 2||6,030,302||8,014,005||-24.8||2,973||2||2,028||17,323,515||MGM|
|9||50 First Dates||4,186,739||5,425,736||-22.8||2,153||6||1,945||113,080,464||Sony|
|10||Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen||1,560,872||2,472,097||-36.9||1,281||5||1,218||27,592,110||Buena Vista|
|11||LOTR: The Return of the King||1,350,748||2,021,501||-33.2||1,021||14||1,323||373,359,557||New Line|
|12||NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience||1,341,904||1,467,406||-8.6||68||2||19,734||3,431,751||Warner Bros.|
|17||Mystic River||634,388||1,386,460||-54.2||670||24||947||88,284,152||Warner Bros.|
|19||Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights||472,351||1,396,187||-66.2||477||4||990||13,409,744||Lions Gate|
|20||Cheaper by the Dozen||306,634||321,945||-4.8||309||13||992||137,142,175||Fox|
|Top 5||$ 77,252,561||$ 86,262,462||-10.4|
|Top 20 vs. 2003||113,838,760||90,628,242||25.6|
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Data source: Exhibitor Relations, EDI. Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated : March 22, 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.