Weekend Box Office (April 14 - 16, 2006)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Movie fans across North America rushed out to see Scary Movie 4 which opened powerfully at number one over the Easter holiday frame to extend the current box office winning streak over last year. However, moviegoers ignored Disney's newest animated offering The Wild which suffered a dismal debut. With students of all ages having extra time off for religious holidays, the top-grossing films all boasted youth appeal.

Generating the second best opening ever in the month of April, Scary Movie 4 bowed on top with $40.2M from a massive 3,602 theaters, according to final studio figures. Averaging a sizzling $11,167, the PG-13 comedy proved that the spoof franchise was still alive and kicking with the newest installment poking fun at recent hits like War of the Worlds, Saw, and The Grudge. Only 2003's Anger Management has opened stronger in April with its $42.2M launch. Reviews were not good, but critics are essentially irrelevant to the commercial success of a film like this.

Scary Movie 4 fell somewhat short of the $48.1M opening of the last film in the series, however some erosion in the fourth film in a series is to be expected. In fact, it was the fourth biggest opening for the fourth film of a movie franchise behind Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ($102.3M in 2005), Star Wars Episode I ($64.8M in 1999), and Batman & Robin ($42.9M in 1997). As part of the Dimension Films banner, the first three Scary Movie pics were released by Miramax, however the latest one was distributed by The Weinstein Company.

Scary Movie 4 also generated the second largest opening of 2006 after the Ice Age sequel. The two films together have helped to boost the box office well above both last year's levels and those of 2004.

Families looking for more tame humor over Easter weekend lined up again for Ice Age: The Meltdown which remained strong in its third weekend grossing $20M for second place. After two weeks on top of the charts, the Fox blockbuster slipped a notch and lost a reasonable 41% of its business. Meltdown now stands at $147.2M and should surpass the $176.4M of the first Ice Age from four years ago.

The sports comedy The Benchwarmers took a 50% tumble in its second weekend and placed third with $9.9M. Sony has taken in a solid $35.9M in ten days for the Rob Schneider-David Spade pic and looks headed for an encouraging $55M finish.

Disney's newest non-Pixar computer animated film bombed at the box office this weekend. The G-rated animal comedy The Wild opened to a weak gross of only $9.7M from 2,854 theaters and made less than half of what Ice Age grossed in its third weekend. Averaging a mild $3,393 per theater, The Wild features a group of New York City zoo animals who escape and find themselves on a trip to Africa. Moviegoers who thought the story was too similar to last year's blockbuster Madagascar kept their dollars in their wallets.

The Antonio Banderas dance drama Take the Lead declined 44% in its second weekend and grossed $6.8M. That gave the New Line release $22.6M in ten days on its way to about $34-38M. Spike Lee's Inside Man dropped 30% to $6.4M in its fourth frame to give Universal $75.4M to date. The mob pic Lucky Number Slevin grossed $4.8M easing 32% in its sophomore weekend. The MGM release has banked only $14.3M in ten days and should finish up with $20-25M.

Fox Searchlight generated a solid national expansion for its tobacco industry satire Thank You for Smoking which widened from 299 to 1,015 theaters collecting $4.5M. The R-rated film averaged a solid $4,425 in its fifth weekend of release lifting the total to $11.5M. Smoking scored the third best average in the top ten after the Scary Movie and Ice Age sequels.

Paramount's Failure to Launch followed with $2.6M, off 37%, for a $83.2M cume. The sci-fi actioner V for Vendetta rounded out the top ten falling 35% to $2.2M giving Warner Bros. $66M thus far.

A handful of new films enjoyed encouraging results in limited release. Lionsgate opened its revenge thriller Hard Candy in just two theaters but grossed $58,049 for a scorching $29,025 average. The distributor also released the Spanish-language adultery drama La Mujer de mi Hermano in 205 theaters and grossed $1M for a good $4,945 average. Miramax launched the British import Kinky Boots and grossed $77,529 from only nine houses for a strong $8,614 average.

Two films targeting African American moviegoers fell from the top ten this weekend. The teen drama ATL grossed $1.4M in its third frame, off 62%, pushing its total to $19.7M. A $22M final should result. Fox Searchlight's plus-size comedy Phat Girlz fell 57% to $1.3M in its sophomore frame. With a measly $5.3M in ten days, the Mo'Nique pic should stumble to about $7M overall.

The top ten films grossed $107.1M which was up 23% from last year's Easter weekend when Guess Who opened at number one with $20.7M; and up 22% from 2004's holiday frame when The Passion of the Christ returned to the top spot with $15.2M.

Compared to projections, Scary Movie 4 powered ahead of my $33M forecast while The Wild fell short of my $20M prediction. Thank You for Smoking was close to my $5M projection.

For a 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 Silent Hill, The Sentinel, and American Dreamz all open.

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

# Title Apr 14 - 16 Apr 7 - 9 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Scary Movie 4 $ 40,222,875 3,602 1 $ 11,167 $ 40,222,875 Weinstein Co.
2 Ice Age: The Meltdown 20,026,625 33,823,894 -40.8 3,873 3 5,171 147,226,916 Fox
3 The Benchwarmers 9,913,291 19,656,429 -49.6 3,282 2 3,021 35,881,922 Sony
4 The Wild 9,684,809 2,854 1 3,393 9,684,809 Buena Vista
5 Take the Lead 6,783,697 12,051,277 -43.7 3,009 2 2,254 22,601,019 New Line
6 Inside Man 6,427,815 9,131,410 -29.6 2,477 4 2,595 75,421,180 Universal
7 Lucky Number Slevin 4,752,800 7,031,921 -32.4 1,989 2 2,390 14,297,147 MGM
8 Thank You for Smoking 4,491,102 2,309,097 94.5 1,015 5 4,425 11,539,571 Fox Searchlight
9 Failure to Launch 2,608,433 4,130,869 -36.9 1,950 6 1,338 83,179,669 Paramount
10 V for Vendetta 2,224,266 3,404,210 -34.7 1,380 5 1,612 66,037,682 Warner Bros.
11 ATL 1,415,291 3,710,215 -61.9 1,315 3 1,076 19,724,950 Warner Bros.
12 Phat Girlz 1,340,864 3,109,924 -56.9 1,060 2 1,265 5,337,603 Fox Searchlight
13 La Mujer De Mi Hermano 1,018,750 206 1 4,945 1,018,750 Lionsgate
14 She's the Man 930,016 2,209,470 -57.9 1,051 5 885 31,784,552 DreamWorks
15 Friends with Money 739,656 589,332 25.5 42 2 17,611 1,534,999 Sony Classics
16 Stay Alive 726,689 2,244,848 -67.6 1,039 4 699 22,076,589 Buena Vista
17 Larry the Cable Guy 672,986 1,535,134 -56.2 976 4 690 14,766,968 Lionsgate
18 Deep Sea 3-D 394,583 434,574 -9.2 46 7 8,578 5,978,328 Warner Bros.
19 The Shaggy Dog 373,281 1,207,878 -69.1 748 6 499 56,709,956 Buena Vista
20 The Hills Have Eyes 336,205 692,057 -51.4 357 6 942 40,947,361 Fox Searchlight
Top 5 $ 86,631,297 $ 81,694,931 6.0
Top 10 107,135,713 98,359,246 8.9
Top 20 115,084,034 110,225,955 4.4
Top 20 vs. Easter 2005 115,084,034 94,031,611 22.4

Last Updated : April 17, 2006 at 8:00PM EDT