Weekend Box Office (April 1 - 3, 2005)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Miramax's Sin City hit the jackpot powering its way to number one at the North American box office while fellow freshman, the Queen Latifah comedy Beauty Shop, debuted in second place with a respectable showing. With no new competition for family audiences, kidpics displayed some of the smallest declines in the top ten. Overall, however, the marketplace remained down versus year-ago levels.

Opening with a bang in the top spot was the ultra-stylish crime noir Sin City which launched with $29.1M, according to final studio figures, marking the third largest April debut ever and the strongest for an R-rated film in the month. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, the thriller opened in 3,230 theaters and averaged a sizzling $9,016 per site giving Miramax its first number one debut since last August's Hero. Sin City, a big-screen adaptation of Miller's graphic novel series, used live actors with computer-generated sets to deliver a new look and feel in movies and powered well ahead of the $15.6M opening of last September's PG-rated Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow which used similar filmmaking techniques.

Reviews were generally positive for Sin City which brought together a potent ensemble cast including Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Benicio Del Toro, Clive Owen, and Elijah Wood. With comedies, horror films, and family pics dominating the box office this year, the action audience which was underserved came out in big numbers for a film that promised something new and exciting. With Rodriguez claiming a piece of the number one spot, the Texas-based filmmaker joins a growing list of multicultural directors to hit the top spot in North America this year following Kevin Rodney Sullivan (Guess Who), Hideo Nakata (The Ring Two), Carlos Saldanha (co-director of Robots), Darren Grant (Diary of a Mad Black Woman), and Thomas Carter (Coach Carter).

Opening in second place was the Queen Latifah comedy Beauty Shop which bowed to $12.8M with a five-day take of $16.6M since its Wednesday debut. Over three days, the PG-13 pic averaged a good $4,814 from 2,659 locations. A spinoff from Ice Cube's successful Barbershop franchise, Beauty Shop finds Latifah's character Gina, who was introduced to audiences a year ago in Barbershop 2, starting her own salon in Atlanta complete with a colorful cast of employees and customers. MGM's new female-skewing film did not measure up to the openings of Cube's pair of hits - Barbershop launched with $20.6M and a $12,852 average in September 2002 while its sequel bowed to $24.2M and a $8,942 average in February 2004. Reviews were mixed for the Bille Woodruff-directed entry which also did not reach the $21.9M bow and $14,771 average of Diary which played to a similar audience this past February. Instead, Beauty Shop's debut was close to the $17.1M four-day start of last weekend's female-oriented franchise comedy Miss Congeniality 2.

The grosses for this weekend's two new releases further underscore the public's demand for new ideas as opposed to sequels this year. Sin City joins the year's top films like Hitch, Robots, and The Pacifier as fresh material pulling in moviegoers. Meanwhile, Beauty Shop joins franchise flicks like Be Cool, Miss Congeniality 2, Son of the Mask, The Ring Two, and Elektra as recycled pics that will not come close to the box office levels of their predecessors.

Sony's hit comedy Guess Who dropped two spots to third but enjoyed a good hold grossing $12.7M, off 39%. After ten days, the Bernie Mac-Ashton Kutcher film has taken in $41M and looks headed for $70-75M.

Fox's animated comedy Robots became the second film of 2005 to join the century club with a strong weekend gross of $9.8M, off only 24%, boosting the cume to $104.4M. The mechanical tale joined Will Smith's Hitch in the $100M circle.

Sandra Bullock's comedy sequel Miss Congeniality 2 enjoyed a respectable sophomore frame sliding 42% to $8.1M. With $31.1M in 11 days, the Warner Bros. title seems set to reach $50-55M or about half of the $106.8M of 2000's Miss Congeniality.

The Disney kidpic The Pacifier took advantage of the lack of new family competition and eased just 28% to $5.8M putting the total at $96.1M. Dropping 58% in its third weekend was the DreamWorks fright flick The Ring Two which grossed $5.7M with a cume of $68M.

New Line went national with its Joan Allen-Kevin Costner drama The Upside of Anger and saw mediocre results jumping into the top ten at number eight with $4M. Expanding from 167 to 1,111 theaters, the R-rated film averaged a respectable $3,623 and raised its sum to $8.6M.

The Sony date doctor Hitch took in $2.9M, down 32%, boosting its tally to $171.3M domestically while its worldwide cume surged past $300M. Rounding out the top ten with $2.7M was Disney's Ice Princess which held up very well dipping 26%. Total stands at $18.8M.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. With Bruce Willis leading the charts with Sin City, his other recent action film Hostage fell 44% to $2.3M putting the cume at $30.3M. The Miramax release should conclude with about $35M. After spending nine weeks in the top ten, Oscar champ Million Dollar Baby slipped 43% to $1.5M for a $96.7M sum. Look for a $102M final. The John Travolta caper pic Be Cool collected $1M, down 63%, putting the cume at $54.5M. MGM's all-star sequel should end with $57M with no chance of reaching the $72M of 1995's Get Shorty.

The top ten films grossed $93.8M which was down 13% from last year when Hellboy opened at number one with $23.2M; but up 21% from 2003 when Phone Booth debuted in the top spot with $15M.

Compared to projections, Sin City powered ahead of my $23M forecast while Beauty Shop came in a few notches below my five-day prediction of $20M. The Upside of Anger was close to my $3M projection.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the Ring franchise. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Sin City would open with more or less than $20M. Of 1,624 responses, 83% correctly guessed More while 17% said Less.

For reviews of Guess Who and Oldboy, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Fever Pitch and Sahara both open.

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

# Title Apr 1 - 3 Mar 25 - 27 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Sin City $ 29,120,273 3,230 1 $ 9,016 $ 29,120,273 Miramax
2 Beauty Shop 12,801,465 2,659 1 4,814 16,647,604 MGM
3 Guess Who 12,716,557 20,671,446 -38.5 3,147 2 4,041 41,040,531 Sony
4 Robots 9,825,372 12,914,900 -23.9 3,026 4 3,247 104,420,872 Fox
5 Miss Congeniality 2 8,134,453 14,043,215 -42.1 3,233 2 2,516 31,127,190 Warner Bros.
6 The Pacifier 5,800,206 8,087,395 -28.3 2,851 5 2,034 96,117,665 Buena Vista
7 The Ring Two 5,689,130 13,616,573 -58.2 3,179 3 1,790 68,046,127 DreamWorks
8 The Upside of Anger 4,025,000 1,249,125 222.2 1,111 4 3,623 8,603,771 New Line
9 Hitch 2,906,879 4,283,334 -32.1 1,859 8 1,564 171,266,743 Sony
10 Ice Princess 2,749,671 3,732,867 -26.3 1,802 3 1,526 18,753,334 Buena Vista
11 Hostage 2,335,451 4,138,040 -43.6 1,728 4 1,352 30,288,870 Miramax
12 Million Dollar Baby 1,466,429 2,587,313 -43.3 1,405 16 1,044 96,662,363 Warner Bros.
13 Be Cool 1,049,063 2,830,732 -62.9 1,202 5 873 54,501,938 MGM
14 Melinda and Melinda 558,707 740,619 -24.6 197 3 2,836 1,767,602 Fox Searchlight
15 Downfall 531,980 553,538 -3.9 168 7 3,167 3,051,911 Newmarket
16 Constantine 491,498 1,237,064 -60.3 610 7 806 73,687,891 Warner Bros.
17 Millions 483,815 488,044 -0.9 128 4 3,780 1,578,559 Fox Searchlight
18 Are We There Yet? 338,863 134,062 152.8 312 11 1,086 80,754,856 Sony
19 Sideways 321,271 578,495 -44.5 304 23 1,057 70,991,037 Fox Searchlight
20 Meet the Fockers 276,990 349,835 -20.8 313 14 885 278,115,340 Universal
Top 5 $ 72,598,120 $ 69,333,529 4.7
Top 10 93,769,006 86,905,815 7.9
Top 20 101,623,073 94,031,611 8.1
Top 20 vs. 2004 101,623,073 123,066,673 -17.4

Last Updated : April 4, 2005 at 9:45PM EDT