Weekend Box Office (April 28 - 30, 2006)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Robin Williams drove off with the number one spot as his new family comedy RV led the final frame of the spring box office in North America. Following a few car lengths behind were two other new releases which both displayed solid results - the 9/11 hijacking thriller United 93 and the gymnastics comedy Stick It. The new spelling bee flick Akeelah and the Bee did not win any major prizes and finished far back in eighth place. Most holdovers suffered large declines but the overall top ten beat out last year for the sixth consecutive weekend ending a stellar April at the multiplexes.

Scoring his first number one hit with a live-action film in over seven years, funnyman Robin Williams topped the charts with RV which grossed $16.4M, according to final studio figures. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black, The Addams Family), the PG-rated pic averaged a respectable $4,511 from an ultrawide 3,639 locations and was the widest launch ever for an April opener. Sony's story of a dad who forces his family to take a summer vacation on the road was produced for about $50M. According to studio research, 56% of the crowd for RV consisted of families with a slight skew towards females. Critics, not surprisingly, were not amused. Williams lent his voice to last year's Robots which bowed on top, but his last on-screen role that found its way to number one was 1998's Patch Adams.

The much-talked-about 9/11 film United 93 took off this weekend and landed in the second spot with $11.5M from only 1,795 theaters. Playing in less than half as many locations as RV, United 93 averaged a solid $6,395 givng it the best average among wide releases. Being the first dramatic film based on the events of September 11, the international news media offered plenty of news coverage about the film over the past week giving it the potential to breakout and become a surprise smash. Instead, it was just a solid performer. However, exit polls were encouraging for the relatively low-risk $15M pic. Studio data showed that the audience was 71% age 30 or older, 52% female, and an extraordinarily high 95% of those polled marked the film as "excellent" or "very good." That could indicate legs in the coming weeks. Also, reviews were overwhelmingly positive for the Paul Greengrass-directed thriller.

Opening close behind in third with better-than-expected sales was the gymnastics comedy Stick It which grossed $10.8M from 2,038 theaters. The Buena Vista release averaged a sturdy $5,301 per location and appealed mainly to teen girls with the story of a rebellious young high school student who is forced back into the competitive world of gymnasts where she teaches her comrades a lesson or two. Missy Peregrym and Jeff Bridges star. The studio drew in its target audience by marketing the film as being from the writer of the sleeper cheerleader hit Bring It On.

Dropping three spots to fourth place was last weekend's top film Silent Hill with $9.3M in its sophomore scare. Sony's latest horror flick tumbled 54% which is par for the course when it comes to fright flicks and pushed its cume to $34.3M after ten days. The studio saw a similar opening, drop, and ten-day tally for its February thriller When a Stranger Calls which wound up with $47.9M by the end of its run. Silent Hill should also approach the $50M level. The spoof comedy Scary Movie 4 finished in fifth with $7.8M, off 54%, for a $78.2M total to date. The Weinstein Co. sequel seems headed for the $95M mark.

Fox's political thriller The Sentinel fell 46% in its second weekend and grossed $7.8M. In ten days, the Michael Douglas film has captured $25.7M and should end up with roughly $40M. The studio's Ice Age: The Meltdown followed with $7.2M, down 46%, pushing the tally to $177.9M. That allowed the toon sequel to surpass the $176.4M of its 2002 predecessor. Look for a $190-195M domestic final for the new adventure. Overseas, the smash hit is still number one and has lifted its international cume to $373.6M pushing the worldwide tally to a mammoth $551M.

The new spelling bee drama Akeelah and the Bee debuted to weak results and finished in eighth place with $6M from 2,195 theaters. The Lionsgate release averaged only $2,739 per theater. The Laurence Fishburne-Angela Bassett starrer gained media attention for being the first film marketed and co-produced by Starbucks.

Rounding out the top ten were the animated film The Wild with $4.8M in its third weekend and the sports comedy The Benchwarmers with $4.4M in its fourth at-bat. Disney's latest toon dropped 42% and raised its sum to just $28.5M while Sony's nerd pic declined 40% and put its cume at a solid $52.8M.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight platformed its critically acclaimed Deepa Mehta film Water in five theaters and collected $56,280 for a solid $11,256 average. The controversial film about the lives of Hindu widows in 1930s India bowed in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco and expands to seven additional markets and about 36 theaters on Friday.

Four films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Jennifer Aniston's indie flick Friends With Money slipped 35% to $2.1M putting the total at $8.1M for Sony Classics. A $13-15M final could result. The former Mrs. Pitt jumps back into big-time Hollywood comedies with The Break-Up co-starring Vince Vaughn which hits theaters on June 2.

The Denzel Washington-Jodie Foster hostage thriller Inside Man fell 45% to $2.1M giving Universal $84.5M from North America. Spike Lee's highest-grossing joint ever should reach a final domestic sum of $88-90M. Internationally, the $45M film has taken in an additional $73.3M putting its current worldwide tally at nearly $158M.

Falling 55% in its fourth dance was the Antonio Banderas pic Take the Lead with $1.9M and a cume of $32.5M. New Line should end up with roughly $35M. The satirical comedy American Dreamz crashed 56% in its second weekend grossing $1.6M. With a dismal $6.2M in ten days, the Universal flop looks to end up with an embarrassing $8M.

Among other films in limited release, Lionsgate expanded its revenge thriller Hard Candy from two to 152 theaters and grossed $304,431 for a soft $2,002 average. Cume sits at $439,819. Miramax's U.K. import Kinky Boots grossed $142,080 from 40 locations for a decent $3,552 average. Total is $405,196. Fox Searchlight's tobacco industry satire Thank You for Smoking inhaled $1.8M, off 36%, for a $18.4M total.

The top ten films grossed $86M which was up 11% from last year when The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy opened at number one with $21.1M; and up 4% from 2004 when Mean Girls debuted in the top spot with $24.4M.

Compared to projections, RV was on target with my $16M forecast while United 93 debuted a bit below my $14M prediction. Stick It vaulted ahead of my $7M projection and Akeelah and the Bee premiered weaker than my $9M forecast.

For NEW reviews of Water and the Manilow: Music and Passion DVD, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Mission: Impossible III, Hoot, and An American Haunting kick off the 2006 summer movie season.

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

# Title Apr 28 - 30 Apr 21 - 23 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 RV $ 16,414,767 3,639 1 $ 4,511 $ 16,414,767 Sony
2 United 93 11,478,360 1,795 1 6,395 11,478,360 Universal
3 Stick It 10,803,610 2,038 1 5,301 10,803,610 Buena Vista
4 Silent Hill 9,336,399 20,152,598 -53.7 2,932 2 3,184 34,267,462 Sony
5 Scary Movie 4 7,805,568 16,814,942 -53.6 3,418 3 2,284 78,168,719 Weinstein Co.
6 The Sentinel 7,787,208 14,367,854 -45.8 2,851 2 2,731 25,728,548 Fox
7 Ice Age: The Meltdown 7,204,960 13,284,408 -45.8 3,122 5 2,308 177,863,073 Fox
8 Akeelah and the Bee 6,011,585 2,195 1 2,739 6,011,585 Lionsgate
9 The Wild 4,799,676 8,332,068 -42.4 2,605 3 1,842 28,510,753 Buena Vista
10 The Benchwarmers 4,385,855 7,256,143 -39.6 2,695 4 1,627 52,768,049 Sony
11 Inside Man 2,081,690 3,748,955 -44.5 1,289 5 1,615 84,465,905 Universal
12 Friends With Money 2,077,019 3,179,025 -34.7 1,010 3 2,056 8,080,496 Sony Classics
13 Take the Lead 1,891,185 4,176,517 -54.7 1,708 3 1,107 32,504,720 New Line
14 Thank You for Smoking 1,776,580 2,780,969 -36.1 734 6 2,420 18,395,465 Fox Searchlight
15 American Dreamz 1,597,475 3,667,420 -56.4 1,500 1 1,065 6,157,595 Universal
16 Lucky Number Slevin 1,117,900 2,475,903 -54.8 724 3 1,544 20,752,033 MGM
17 Failure to Launch 600,430 1,410,982 -57.4 664 7 904 86,619,959 Paramount
18 V for Vendetta 558,105 1,049,273 -46.8 362 6 1,542 68,980,588 Warner Bros.
19 Deep Sea 3-D 329,181 386,002 -14.7 47 8 7,004 7,341,092 Warner Bros.
20 Hard Candy 304,431 37,802 705.3 152 3 2,003 439,819 Lionsgate
Top 5 $ 55,838,704 $ 72,951,870 -23.5
Top 10 86,027,988 94,979,930 -9.4
Top 20 98,361,984 105,338,703 -6.6
Top 20 vs. 2005 98,361,984 86,123,248 14.2

Last Updated : May 1, 2006 at 6:00PM EDT