Weekend Box Office (June 2 - 4, 2006)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Nosy moviegoers just couldn't stay away from a high-profile lovers quarrel as the anti-romantic comedy The Break-Up starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston surprised the industry by opening at number one shoving the comic book juggernaut X-Men: The Last Stand into second place in only its second weekend. The mutant sequel was widely expected to remain atop the North American charts. The only other new face in the top ten was the global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth which expanded and jumped into the number nine slot while still in limited release. Overall, the box office remained healthy with the top four choices gobbling up most of the business.

Jen and Vince attracted millions of fans to theaters with The Break-Up which debuted with $39.2M over the weekend, according to final studio figures, beating all expectations. Universal launched the date movie in 3,067 locations and averaged a stellar $12,772 giving the studio its best opening yet this year. It was also the third biggest debut ever for a romantic comedy trailing the $43.1M of Hitch and the $39.9M of 50 First Dates which both premiered just days before Valentine's Day. Women fueled the business for Break-Up. Studio research showed that a whopping 67% of the audience was female while the crowd was evenly split between those over and under the age of 30. Vaughn and Aniston play a couple that breaks up, but still decides to live in the same condo together.

Produced for $52M, The Break-Up sparked lots of media attention over the past year because of Aniston's split from ex-husband Brad Pitt and her new relationship with Vaughn. Curiosity seemed to attract the former Friends star's core audience of young women while men were far less interested. Universal's marketing pushed the starpower and the lack of any other new wide releases kept the attention on Break-Up. Plus, the marketplace has not offered any star-driven films aimed at women in several weeks. Critics, however, gave little support with many panning the film finding it lacking in both romance and comedy. Aniston scored the second biggest opening of her career after 2003's Bruce Almighty ($68M) while Vaughn enjoyed his third largest after 1997's The Lost World ($72.1M) and last summer's Mr. & Mrs. Smith ($50.3M). The Break-Up, however, marks new career highs for each actor in a leading role.

After a record-breaking Memorial Day weekend opener, X-Men: The Last Stand crumbled in its second weekend plunging 67% to second place with $34M. After ten days of release, the mutant sequel has hauled in a staggering $175.3M domestically. Most industry watchers had expected the super hero pic to remain at number one this weekend, but a stronger-than-expected opening by Break-Up coupled with a larger-than-expected decline for X-Men led to a second place finish. Given that loyal fans all rushed to the theaters on the debut frame and the added holiday boost, a steep drop was widely anticipated, but a drop of two-thirds was especially high. Subsequent weeks should stabilize a bit, but based on its trajectory, the third X-Men film looks to be headed to a domestic tally of $230-240M which would still make it the biggest hit of the trilogy.

Holding steady in third place once again this weekend was the animated film Over the Hedge which slipped only 24% to $20.6M in its third outing. After 17 days, Paramount has collected an impressive $112.4M with the DreamWorks production. After three weeks of having the family market virtually to itself, Hedge will face some stiff competiton next weekend when Disney and Pixar race into theaters with Cars.

Losing a reasonable 45% of its audience in its third weekend, The Da Vinci Code ranked fourth with $18.6M. That pushed the 17-day total to a stunning $172M making the religious thriller the year's third biggest domestic hit behind Fox's Ice Age and X-Men sequels. Overseas, Da Vinci continues to lead the box office for the third straight weekend delivering sizzling results. The Ron Howard-directed smash grossed an estimated $51M, down 44% from last weekend, boosting the international tally to a towering $409M. With a sensational $581M in global grosses (70% of which is from outside North America), The Da Vinci Code will shatter the $600M mark by the end of the week.

The top four films ruled the weekend accounting for 88% of all money spent on the top ten films. All other players in the marketplace grossed under $5M each.

Dropping only 33% and finishing fifth for the frame was the spy sequel Mission: Impossible III with $4.7M which pushed Paramount's domestic cume to $122.7M. For the fourth consecutive weekend, the ocean liner disaster film Poseidon followed right behind Tom Cruise's actioner and dropped 38% to $3.5M. Warner Bros. has taken in just $51.8M thus far.

For the first time in five years, the month of May ended without any of its releases hitting the $200M mark. But while none of this year's early summer contenders has come close to last year's Star Wars Episode III which had amazingly smashed through the $300M mark at this point, collectively the hits have managed to measure up to 2005. The aggregate gross of the top five May films this year is $634.1M which is up 1.8% from this same point a year ago. Instead of flocking to one giant megahit, moviegoers have been spreading the same amount of money across a collection of popular films.

Sony's hit kidpic RV continued to hold up well slipping only 23% in its sixth weekend to $3.2M. The Robin Williams film has taken in $61.7M to date. Lionsgate witnessed a surprisingly strong hold for its horror entry See No Evil which dipped 24% and grossed $2M. Total stands at $12.4M.

Proving that it is more than just a blue-state hit, Al Gore's global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth expanded into major markets and hit the top ten grossing $1.4M from only 77 theaters. The Paramount Vantage release averaged a stunning $17,615 over the weekend and raised its cume to $1.9M after bowing last week in just four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. This Friday, Truth widens to the Top 25 markets with about 150 total theaters before going national on June 16 in 450-600 locations.

The PG-rated film has quickly nabbed the title of must-see summer doc this year and hopes to follow in the footsteps of last year's March of the Penguins and 2004's Fahrenheit 9/11 as non-fiction films that crossed over to become pop culture events. Those films rank as the top-grossing documentaries ever with $77.4M and $119.2M, respectively. This weekend, the former Vice President's environmental pic became the first film of the year to enter the top ten while playing in fewer than 200 theaters.

Rounding out the top ten was Lindsay Lohan's comedy Just My Luck with $854,653, down a steep 57%, for a cume to date of $15.6M.

Break-Up and Inconvenient Truth bumped two spring films out of the top ten. Universal's controversial 9/11 thriller United 93 dropped 39% to $493,015 after spending five weeks in the top ten. The $15M film has grossed $30.6M to date and should collect a bit more before ending its theatrical run. Fox's animated sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown has spent eight of its ten weekends in the top ten and is now headed for the finish line grossing $191.5M to date. The PG-rated hit remains the top-grossing film of 2006 thus far and has unearthed more than $625M worldwide.

Opening this weekend in limited release was the Lionsgate sports drama Peaceful Warrior which took in $80,602 from ten sites for a solid $8,060 average. Also debuting, but with weaker results, was the Korean action film Typhoon with $59,409 from 24 theaters. The Paramount Vantage release attacked nine markets and averaged a dull $2,475.

The top ten films grossed $128.1M which was up 2% from last year when Madagascar climbed into the number one spot with $28.1M; but down 30% from 2004 when Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban opened in the top slot with a June record $93.7M.

Compared to projections, The Break-Up opened ahead of my $26M forecast.

For reviews of X-Men: The Last Stand and An Inconvenient Truth, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Cars, The Omen, and A Prairie Home Companion all open.

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

# Title Jun 2 - 4 May 26 - 28 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Break-Up $ 39,172,785 3,067 1 $ 12,772 $ 39,172,785 Universal
2 X-Men: The Last Stand 34,017,247 102,750,665 -66.9 3,714 2 9,159 175,348,409 Fox
3 Over the Hedge 20,647,284 27,063,774 -23.7 3,993 3 5,171 112,357,940 Paramount
4 The Da Vinci Code 18,610,187 34,031,670 -45.3 3,757 3 4,953 171,966,151 Sony
5 Mission: Impossible III 4,684,544 7,001,625 -33.1 2,667 5 1,756 122,669,375 Paramount
6 Poseidon 3,492,361 5,650,026 -38.2 2,720 4 1,284 51,760,587 Warner Bros.
7 RV 3,204,449 4,167,518 -23.1 2,181 6 1,469 61,710,810 Sony
8 See No Evil 2,041,172 2,683,655 -23.9 1,270 3 1,607 12,405,131 Lionsgate
9 An Inconvenient Truth 1,356,387 281,330 382.1 77 2 17,615 1,937,361 Par. Vantage
10 Just My Luck 854,653 1,979,021 -56.8 958 4 892 15,600,317 Fox
11 Ice Age: The Meltdown 623,505 788,055 -20.9 514 10 1,213 191,537,740 Fox
12 United 93 493,015 808,545 -39.0 653 6 755 30,614,085 Universal
13 An American Haunting 465,696 734,536 -36.6 528 5 882 15,575,702 Freestyle
14 Akeelah and the Bee 438,052 653,433 -33.0 405 6 1,082 17,799,322 Lionsgate
15 Keeping Up with the Steins 431,451 555,250 -22.3 163 4 2,647 2,575,222 Miramax
16 District B13 411,544 151 1 2,725 411,544 Magnolia
17 Fanaa 400,158 753,067 -46.9 72 2 5,558 1,418,709 Yash Raj Films
18 Thank You for Smoking 331,124 469,338 -29.4 265 11 1,250 23,485,956 Fox Searchlight
19 Deep Sea 3-D 308,160 347,276 -11.3 46 14 6,699 10,340,169 Warner Bros.
20 The Sentinel 278,200 563,256 -50.6 242 7 1,150 35,640,124 Fox
Top 5 $ 117,132,047 $ 176,497,760 -33.6
Top 10 128,081,069 186,924,554 -31.5
Top 20 132,261,974 192,104,019 -31.2
Top 20 vs. 2005 132,261,974 129,535,463 2.1

Last Updated : June 5, 2006 at 5:45PM EDT