Weekend Box Office (April 22 - 24, 2005)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Nicole Kidman headlined her first number one opening ever with the political thriller The Interpreter which easily grossed more than the weekend's other three new releases combined. A trio of new comedies - the date flick A Lot Like Love, the martial arts gangster pic Kung Fu Hustle, and the kidnapping film King's Ransom - attracted more modest business and were sprinkled across the top ten chart. Most holdovers saw small to moderate declines during the final weekend before the big-budget summer extravaganzas start invading the multiplexes.

Universal scored a top spot debut with The Interpreter which bowed to $22.8M from 2,758 theaters, according to final studio figures, for an impressive $8,275 average. Directed by Sydney Pollack, the PG-13 film finds Kidman playing a United Nations translator caught up in the assassination plot of an African leader. Sean Penn plays a Secret Service agent on the case. Reviews were generally positive and the film connected with its expected audience of older women. According to studio research, 58% of the crowd was female and 58% were of age 35 or older for the $80M film which was the first to ever shoot inside the U.N. building.

The Oscar-winning actress has starred in numerous movies in recent years but has not reached the number one spot in nearly six years when her steamy thriller Eyes Wide Shut, with ex-hubby Tom Cruise headlining, bowed in pole position in July 1999. Many of Kidman's hits from the 1990s have soared to the top spot on the charts, but The Interpreter is the first film to do so in which she received top billing. It also ranks as the second biggest opening of her career after the 1995 ensemble comic blockbuster Batman Forever which launched with a then-record $52.8M. The Australian actress will reappear in theaters in late June opposite Will Ferrell in the comedy remake Bewitched.

The Interpreter also opened at number one internationally in several markets this weekend including Germany, Brazil, Hong Kong, and Singapore with a total weekend estimate of $11.9M from 31 territories for an overseas cume of $25M to date. It is still in the top spot in the United Kingdom and Spain and is exhibiting strong holds in markets where it opened before North America.

The Amityville Horror posted a solid second weekend hold for a fright flick dropping just 42% to $13.7M. The $19M MGM title has grossed $43.3M in ten days putting it close to the $44.2M that fellow horror remake Dawn of the Dead scared up in the same amount of time last spring, but below the $50.9M of 2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Those films had weaker legs dropping 60% and 49%, respectively, in their sophomore sessions. Amityville should find its way to a terrific $70M. Paramount's big-budget adventure tale Sahara delivered another strong frame dipping only 31% to $9M for a 17-day total of $48.9M.

Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet found themselves in fourth place with their new romantic comedy A Lot Like Love which debuted with $7.6M. The PG-13 film played in 2,502 venues and averaged $3,028 per site for Buena Vista. Reviews were mixed for Love which follows two young adults whose love lives intersect numerous times over the course of seven years.

Following two potent weeks in limited release, the martial arts comedy Kung Fu Hustle expanded nationwide and jumped up to fifth place with $6.7M. Sony Pictures Classics widened the R-rated film from seven sites in New York and Los Angeles to 2,503 locations across North America, but averaged a mild $2,697 per theater. The critically acclaimed Stephen Chow pic has grossed $7.5M to date domestically but has been a box office sensation in Asia last winter collecting $66M overseas.

The baseball comedy Fever Pitch dropped 35% to $5.5M giving Fox sixth place with a $31.5M cume. Miramax's Sin City followed with $3.7M, off 44%, for a $67.3M total. Ashton Kutcher's Guess Who dropped only 28% and took eighth with $3.5M pushing the tally to $62.4M for Sony. Fox's blockbuster toon Robots, the top ten's eldest statesman, eased a mere 5% to $3.4M for a cume of $120.3M.

Anthony Anderson's new comedy King's Ransom was dead on arrival with a poor opening weekend of just $2.1M from 1,508 theaters for a miserable $1,418 average. New Line's PG-13 pic about a rich man plotting his own kidnapping also starred Donald Faison, Charlie Murphy, and Regina Hall. Those critics who did manage to see the film, which was not screened for the media ahead of time, trashed it.

Embezzling plenty of cash in limited release was the documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room which grossed $76,639 from only three board rooms for a lucrative $25,546 average. Magnolia's expose on corporate greed drew rave reviews from critics and will add more theaters in the weeks ahead.

With studios going through their annual spring cleaning releasing their pre-summer product, four films were pushed out of the top ten over the weekend. Disney's The Pacifier slipped just 13% in its eighth weekend and grossed $2.1M putting the cume at $106.6M. The Vin Diesel kidpic should find its way to $110-115M opening up a new family-friendly career for the action star. Queen Latifah's salon comedy Beauty Shop fell 48% to $2M for a total of $34M. MGM is on course to gross a not-so-impressive $37-39M which will not compare to the $75.8M and $65M of the pair of Barbershop pics.

Miss Congeniality 2, another franchise film that has not performed like its predecessor, took in $1.8M, down 39%, raising its cume to $44.4M. The Warner Bros. sequel looks to finish at just under $50M or less than half of the $106.8M of 2000's Miss Congeniality. New Line's adult saga The Upside of Anger had its audience of adult women taken away by Nicole Kidman and dropped 52% to $1M in its seventh weekend. With $16.7M in the bank, the Joan Allen-Kevin Costner pic looks to reach close to a respectable $20M while playing in under 1,200 theaters at its widest point of distribution.

The top ten films grossed $78.2M which was down a scant 1% from last year when Man on Fire opened in first place with $22.8M; and up 10% from 2003 when Identity debuted in the top spot with $16.2M.

Compared to projections, The Interpreter opened very close to my $21M forecast. A Lot Like Love, Kung Fu Hustle, and King's Ransom all debuted below my respective predictions of $11M, $9M, and $6M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on XXX: State of the Union. In the last survey, readers were asked whether they would still see the next James Bond film even without Pierce Brosnan. Of 2,312 responses, 78% said Yes while 22% stated No.

For NEW reviews of A Lot Like Love and Night of Henna, plus DVD reviews of Hotel Rwanda, Tale of Two Sisters and Koma, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when XXX: State of the Union and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy both open.

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

# Title Apr 22 - 24 Apr 15 - 17 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Interpreter $ 22,822,455 2,758 1 $ 8,275 $ 22,822,455 Universal
2 The Amityville Horror 13,707,999 23,507,007 -41.7 3,323 2 4,125 43,316,733 MGM
3 Sahara 9,027,885 13,071,283 -30.9 3,200 3 2,821 48,947,382 Paramount
4 A Lot Like Love 7,576,593 2,502 1 3,028 7,576,593 Buena Vista
5 Kung Fu Hustle 6,749,572 247,613 2,503 3 2,697 7,483,773 Sony Classics
6 Fever Pitch 5,509,381 8,518,883 -35.3 2,875 3 1,916 31,510,601 Fox
7 Sin City 3,726,675 6,687,810 -44.3 2,343 4 1,591 67,263,575 Miramax
8 Guess Who 3,513,837 4,875,712 -27.9 2,484 5 1,415 62,388,926 Sony
9 Robots 3,417,363 3,606,520 -5.2 2,072 7 1,649 120,285,570 Fox
10 King's Ransom 2,137,685 1,508 1 1,418 2,137,685 New Line
11 The Pacifier 2,106,224 2,410,620 -12.6 1,552 8 1,357 106,567,199 Buena Vista
12 Beauty Shop 1,961,024 3,742,462 -47.6 1,632 4 1,202 34,041,927 MGM
13 Miss Congeniality 2 1,807,426 2,980,158 -39.4 1,968 5 918 44,392,461 Warner Bros.
14 The Upside of Anger 994,481 2,069,066 -51.9 1,103 7 902 16,741,153 New Line
15 Hitch 738,440 1,227,224 -39.8 768 11 962 176,561,382 Sony
16 Millions 667,848 664,748 0.5 313 7 2,134 3,819,202 Fox Searchlight
17 Ice Princess 582,535 904,508 -35.6 659 6 884 23,084,134 Buena Vista
18 The Ring Two 558,682 1,399,367 -60.1 888 6 629 75,316,113 DreamWorks
19 Waqt 454,800 52 1 8,746 454,800 Eros
20 Hostage 322,573 749,806 -57.0 492 7 656 34,033,731 Miramax
Top 5 $ 59,884,504 $ 56,660,695 5.7
Top 10 78,189,445 71,469,521 9.4
Top 20 88,383,478 78,828,426 12.1
Top 20 vs. 2004 88,383,478 92,933,574 -4.9

Last Updated : April 25, 2005 at 9:45PM EDT