Weekend Box Office (May 12 - 14, 2006)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Tom Cruise's spy sequel Mission: Impossible III remained the most popular film in North America for the second straight weekend while the big-budget disaster film Poseidon opened in second place to disappointing results. The frame's other new releases, the Lindsay Lohan comedy Just My Luck and the soccer drama Goal! The Dream Begins, opened miserably as well giving the industry little to celebrate. Overall ticket sales fell behind those of the comparable weekend in each of the last four years as a sluggish marketplace waits for that one true summer blockbuster that draws the masses into the multiplexes.

Despite a weaker-than-expected opening weekend, Paramount's MI3 enjoyed a respectable sophomore frame dropping 48% to $25M to retain its standing as the number one film, according to final studio figures. Playing in an ultrawide 4,059 theaters, the Ethan Hunt actioner averaged a solid $6,161 per location and raised its ten-day total to $85.1M. The decline was identical to the second weekend fall for last summer's big spy flick Mr. & Mrs. Smith which grossed $26M in its sophomore shot after a $50.3M bow. The Pitt-Jolie vehicle, however, captured a more muscular $96.7M in its first ten days thanks in part to a June release when more students were out of school.

With so many action sequels tumbling by 55% or more on the second weekend, Mission: Impossible III managed to hold up relatively well. Competition from Poseidon was not formidable so moviegoers were not drawn away to another big event pic. The latest Ethan Hunt film will face its true test this Friday when the much-anticipated thriller The Da Vinci Code starring that other Tom opens followed a week later by the mutant juggernaut X-Men: The Last Stand. At its current pace, look for MI3 to reach $130-140M domestically making it the lowest grossing installment of the decade-old franchise. The first Mission: Impossible grossed $181M in 1996 while MI2 took in $215.4M in 2000. Overseas, MI3 jumped to $129.2M in foreign sales putting the worldwide tally at $213.8M in under two weeks. The global box office gross looks to be on a trajectory to hit $350M.

Failing to sink Cruise's ship, the ocean liner disaster pic Poseidon settled for the runnerup spot this weekend opening with $22.2M from 3,555 locations. Warner Bros. generated a decent per-theater average of $6,232 with its first pricey entry of the summer movie season. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen (The Perfect Storm, Air Force One), the PG-13 film was a remake of the 1972 picture The Poseidon Adventure and starred Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, and Richard Dreyfuss as passengers on a luxury ship who must fight to survive after a rogue wave capsizes the vessel. Poseidon opened weaker than other big-budget maritime action films like 2003's Master and Commander ($25.1M) and 2000's The Perfect Storm ($41.3M), and practically matched the opening of 1995's infamous Waterworld ($21.2M). Ticket prices, of course, were much lower eleven summers ago.

Although audiences in years past have flocked to May disaster films like Twister, Deep Impact, and The Day After Tomorrow, this time Poseidon lacked the goods to draw in a paying audience. Reviews were not kind which also made the adult-skewing picture a tough sell. Varying reports on the film's budget put the production cost in excess of $160M so a stellar run internationally and on DVD will be needed in order to turn a profit. Poseidon set sail in a handful of Asian countries to the tune of $4.4M this weekend, but will open in most foreign territories in June and July.

Once again scoring the best hold among all wide releases was the Robin Williams family comedy RV which dipped a mere 10% in its third weekend to $10M. The Sony hit has collected a solid $43.3M in 17 days.

Ticket buyers ignored Lindsay Lohan's new film Just My Luck which flopped in its opening weekend grossing a mere $5.7M. The Fox release averaged an unlucky $2,240 per location and played almost exclusively to a teen girl audience. Studio research showed that the crowd for Luck was a remarkably high 80% female and 70% under the age of 25. Critics, not surprisingly, panned the film.

Horror flick An American Haunting enjoyed a solid sophomore session dropping only 38% to $3.6M for fifth place. Distributed by Freestyle Releasing, the PG-13 thriller has banked $10.8M in ten days and should scare its way to a mediocre $17-19M. Universal's 9/11 thriller United 93 followed with $3.5M, down just 34%, lifting the cume to a decent $25.6M.

The teen gymnastics pic Stick It dropped 42% to $3.2M to land in the number seven spot with a total to date of $22.1M for Buena Vista. Fox's animated sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown, still the top-grossing film of 2006, grossed an estimated $3.2M sliding just 24% in its seventh weekend. No other film has spent as many weeks in the top ten this year. Cume stands at $187.6M domestically and a staggering $608M worldwide.

The Lionsgate family drama Akeelah and the Bee declined 29% to an estimated $2.4M to boost its sum to $14M. The New Line flop Hoot fell 32% to $2.3M in its second outing as the total inched up to a dismal $6.4M. Last weekend, the owl film had the distinction of suffering the worst opening in history for a film debuting in over 3,000 theaters. Hoot's puny $3.4M bow in 3,018 sites beat out the dismal $6M launch from 3,006 theaters of 2004's New York Minute starring the Olsen Twins for that unfortunate honor.

Another film failing to connect with kids was Buena Vista's new soccer drama Goal! The Dream Begins which kicked off its run with a weak gross of only $1.9M. The PG-rated film failed to qualify for the top ten this weekend and averaged a poor $1,908 from 1,007 locations.

Two releases fell from the top ten this weekend. Sony's fright pic Silent Hill placed eleventh with $2.2M, off 46%, for a sum of $44.5M thus far. A $47-49M final is likely. The spoof comedy Scary Movie 4 dropped 47% to $2M in its fifth frame. With $86.5M to date, The Weinstein Co. release looks to finish with roughly $90M which would not be far off from the $110M of its predecessor 2003's Scary Movie 3.

Opening in limited release this weekend, Miramax's family reunion comedy Keeping Up With the Steins grossed $653,723 from 138 locations for a respectable $4,737 average. The PG-13 film stars Garry Marshall, Jeremy Piven, and Daryl Hannah. The Swaziland-set drama Wah-Wah debuted in 26 theaters and grossed $55,304 for a mild $2,127 average. Starring Gabriel Byrne, Miranda Richardson, and Emily Watson, the R-rated film is distributed by Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Among indie films expanding into more markets, Sony Classics grossed $1.1M from its comedy Art School Confidential after widening from 12 to 762 theaters across the country. That left the John Malkovich-Anjelica Huston starrer with a pitiful $1,467 average per venue as it failed to register with moviegoers on a national level. Cume is $1.3M with a grim future ahead.. Fox Searchlight expanded its Indian drama Water from 36 to 62 locations and grossed $267,731 for a $4,318 average. Total sits at $604,325 with more markets opening on Friday.

The top ten films grossed $80.9M which was down 11% from last year when Monster-in-Law opened at number one with $23.1M; and down 20% from 2004 when Troy debuted in the top spot with $46.9M.

Compared to projections, Poseidon, Just My Luck, and Goal! all opened lower than my respective forecasts of $31M, $11M, and $4M.

For a review of MI3 visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Da Vinci Code, Over the Hedge, and See No Evil all open.

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

# Title May 12 - 14 May 5 - 7 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Mission: Impossible III $ 25,008,971 $ 47,743,273 -47.6 4,059 2 $ 6,161 $ 85,100,142 Paramount
2 Poseidon 22,155,410 3,555 1 6,232 22,155,410 Warner Bros.
3 RV 9,950,858 11,004,706 -9.6 3,536 3 2,814 43,271,427 Sony
4 Just My Luck 5,692,285 2,541 1 2,240 5,692,285 Fox
5 An American Haunting 3,564,379 5,783,508 -38.4 1,703 2 2,093 10,814,081 Freestyle
6 United 93 3,508,125 5,347,860 -34.4 1,871 3 1,875 25,555,100 Universal
7 Stick It 3,166,426 5,479,658 -42.2 2,009 3 1,576 22,145,314 Buena Vista
8 Ice Age: The Meltdown 3,150,490 4,161,724 -24.3 1,880 7 1,676 187,570,805 Fox
9 Akeelah and the Bee 2,403,420 3,369,630 -28.7 1,176 3 2,044 14,008,069 Lionsgate
10 Hoot 2,292,677 3,368,197 -31.9 3,018 1 760 6,380,246 New Line
11 Silent Hill 2,183,549 4,013,871 -45.6 1,888 4 1,157 44,490,566 Sony
12 Scary Movie 4 1,952,572 3,690,454 -47.1 1,793 5 1,089 86,454,340 Weinstein Co.
13 Goal! The Dream Begins 1,921,838 1,007 1 1,908 1,921,838 Buena Vista
14 The Wild 1,630,294 2,649,182 -38.5 1,216 5 1,341 34,355,644 Buena Vista
15 The Sentinel 1,534,138 3,086,304 -50.3 1,314 4 1,168 33,576,022 Fox
16 Art School Confidential 1,118,080 135,733 723.7 762 2 1,467 1,327,011 Sony Classics
17 The Benchwarmers 1,017,660 2,038,358 -50.1 969 6 1,050 57,124,686 Sony
18 Thank You for Smoking 915,420 1,055,031 -13.2 428 8 2,139 21,365,747 Fox Searchlight
19 Friends With Money 783,904 1,103,119 -28.9 404 5 1,940 11,123,371 Sony Classics
20 Keeping Up With the Steins 653,723 138 1 4,737 653,723 Miramax
Top 5 $ 66,371,903 $ 75,359,005 -11.9
Top 10 80,893,041 93,962,881 -13.9
Top 20 94,604,219 106,534,327 -11.2
Top 20 vs. 2005 94,604,219 98,887,395 -4.3

Last Updated : May 15, 2006 at 10:00PM EDT