Weekend Box Office (April 7 - 9, 2006)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Despite a heavy meltdown, the Ice Age sequel continued to be the most popular film in North America holding steady at number one for the second straight time. The Fox blockbuster grossed $33.8M, according to final studio figures, dropping 50% from its record opening and pushed its ten-day cume to a stellar $115.8M. Ice Age: The Meltdown became the first film of 2006 to cross the $100M mark doing the deed in just nine days. With school holidays for Easter coming up, the hit toon expects to keep drawing business in the weeks ahead in hopes of nearing the $200M mark.

Opening impressively in second place was the nerd comedy The Benchwarmers with $19.7M leading the weekend's new releases. Playing in 3,274 theaters, the Sony release scored a strong batting average of $6,004 per location. The PG-13 film was directed by Dennis Dugan (Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy) and starred Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Jon Heder as baseball misfits trying to fit in. Benchwarmers skewed young with 60% of the audience being under the age of 21. Males and females equally represented, according to studio research.

Antonio Banderas danced his way into the number three spot with his ballroom dancing drama Take the Lead which debuted to $12.1M from 3,009 sites. Averaging a respectable $4,005 per theater for New Line, the PG-13 film tells the story of an instructor who volunteers to teach a group of inner-city kids the joys of ballroom dancing competition. Critics were mixed on their reactions.

Universal's bank hostage thriller Inside Man followed in fourth with $9.1M in its third heist. Off 41%, the Denzel Washington-Jodie Foster pic has upped its cume to $66M. With an additional $35M overseas, the Spike Lee film crossed the $100M global mark over the weekend.

The mistaken identity actioner Lucky Number Slevin landed in the number five slot for the weekend opening to a lucky $7M. Starring Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, and Morgan Freeman, the R-rated thriller averaged a mild $3,544 from 1,984 theaters. Reviews were mixed for The Weinstein Co. release.

Paramount saw its hit romantic comedy Failure to Launch fall 36% to $4.1M pushing its total to $79.1M. The teen drama ATL tumbled 68% in its second weekend grossing $3.7M. Warner Bros. has collected $17.2M in ten days and should approach the $25M mark. The studio's action thriller V for Vendetta dropped 46% to $3.4M puttitng its total at $62.3M.

Opening to disappointing results in ninth place was the comedy Phat Girlz with $3.1M from 1,060 theaters. Averaging a not-so-plump $2,934 per site, the Fox Searchlight release stars Mo'Nique as a plus-size fashion designer living in a world of skinny women. The low-budget comedy was produced for just $2.5M.

Indie sensation Thank You For Smoking expanded successfully once again widending from 126 to 299 theaters and grossed $2.3M to pop into the top ten. That gave the Fox Searchlight release a solid $7,723 average and a cume of $6.2M. This Friday, Thank You goes national and will be in over 1,000 theaters.

Elsewhere in limited release, Sony Classics generated a powerful opening for its Jennifer Aniston-starrer Friends with Money which premiered with $589,332 from only 28 theaters. That gave the adult drama a sparkling $21,048 average making it well-positioned to expand in the coming weeks.

The Passover comedy When Do We Eat? opened in 48 theaters in three markets and grossed $134,006 for a mediocre $2,792 average. Playing in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, the film will expand into more cities on April 21.

Half of last week's top ten fell from the list this weekend. The horror flick Stay Alive dropped 50% to $2.2M for a $20.5M cume. Look for a $24M final for the Buena Vista release. The crossdressing teen pic She's the Man tumbled 50% to $2.2M as well in its fourth outing. The $20M DreamWorks release has grossed $29.9M to date and should finish with about $34M. Universal's horror-comedy Slither slid 58% in its sophomore frame to $1.6M. With only $6.6M so far, a final gross in the area of $10M seems likely.

Disney's The Shaggy Dog collected $1.2M, off 63%, to raise its cume to $55.7M. The Tim Allen remake looks to conclude its run with a respectable $60M. Basic Instinct 2, one of the lowest-grossing sequels ever made, collapsed 68% in its second weekend and collected $1M. With a laughable $5.2M in its first ten days, the Sony release might inch its way to a ridiculous $6M final gross embarrassing all involved with the film.

The top ten films grossed $98.4M which was up a healthy 30% from last year when Sahara opened at number one with $18.1M; and up 12% from 2004 when The Passion of the Christ returned to the top spot with $15.2M over Easter weekend.

Compared to projections, The Benchwarmers opened stronger than my $14M forecast while Take the Lead was on target with my $12M prediction. Lucky Number Slevin was also close to my $8M projection while Phat Girlz opened well below my $6M forecast.

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

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Scary Movie 4 and The Wild both open.

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

# Title Apr 7 - 9 Mar 31 - Apr 2 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Ice Age: The Meltdown $ 33,823,894 $ 68,033,544 -50.3 3,969 2 $ 8,522 $ 115,751,973 Fox
2 The Benchwarmers 19,656,429 3,274 1 6,004 19,656,429 Sony
3 Take the Lead 12,051,277 3,009 1 4,005 12,051,277 New Line
4 Inside Man 9,131,410 15,437,760 -40.9 2,867 3 3,185 66,013,040 Universal
5 Lucky Number Slevin 7,031,921 1,984 1 3,544 7,031,921 Weinstein Co.
6 Failure to Launch 4,130,869 6,463,434 -36.1 2,616 5 1,579 79,145,215 Paramount
7 ATL 3,710,215 11,554,404 -67.9 1,602 2 2,316 17,215,267 Warner Bros.
8 V for Vendetta 3,404,210 6,295,358 -45.9 2,003 4 1,700 62,296,435 Warner Bros.
9 Phat Girlz 3,109,924 1,060 1 2,934 3,109,924 Fox Searchlight
10 Thank You for Smoking 2,309,097 1,606,328 43.8 299 4 7,723 6,193,074 Fox Searchlight
11 Stay Alive 2,244,848 4,506,719 -50.2 1,845 3 1,217 20,528,639 Buena Vista
12 She's the Man 2,209,470 4,429,426 -50.1 2,026 4 1,091 29,850,290 DreamWorks
13 Slither 1,634,595 3,880,270 -57.9 1,946 2 840 6,585,330 Universal
14 Larry the Cable Guy 1,535,134 3,159,370 -51.4 1,455 3 1,055 13,717,136 Lionsgate
15 The Shaggy Dog 1,207,878 3,242,414 -62.7 1,701 5 710 55,706,760 Buena Vista
16 Basic Instinct 2 1,017,607 3,201,420 -68.2 1,453 2 700 5,225,676 Sony
17 The Hills Have Eyes 692,057 1,887,636 -63.3 693 5 999 40,324,340 Fox Searchlight
18 Friends with Money 589,332 28 1 21,048 589,332 Sony Classics
19 Deep Sea 3-D 434,574 468,178 -7.2 46 6 9,447 5,220,472 Warner Bros.
20 Eight Below 301,214 967,928 -68.9 509 8 592 79,847,324 Buena Vista
Top 5 $ 81,694,931 $ 107,784,500 -24.2
Top 10 98,359,246 127,044,749 -22.6
Top 20 110,225,955 137,456,329 -19.8
Top 20 vs. 2005 110,225,955 83,089,836 32.7

Last Updated : April 10, 2006 at 7:45PM EDT