Weekend Box Office (June 3 - 5, 2005)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Caged in a zoo last week, the rowdy animals of Madagascar escaped and took over the number one spot in their second weekend of release while the frame's three new films all experienced mild debuts. Two-time champ Star Wars Episode III and the Adam Sandler comedy The Longest Yard followed close behind the animated DreamWorks pic as the top three films remained the same but switched positions. New releases claimed three of the next four slots with Russell Crowe's boxing tale Cinderella Man leading the way in fourth, the teen girl pic The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants opening in fifth, and the 1970s skater drama Lords of Dogtown stumblng into seventh. For the fifteenth consecutive weekend, the box office was down compared to last year with the combined grosses of the new films amounting to only a fraction of the record bow of the third Harry Potter film a year ago. The frame was also down substantially from 2003.

After opening in third place over last weekend's three-day frame, and second place over the long Memorial Day holiday span, Madagascar climbed up into the number one spot this weekend with $28.1M, according to final studio figures. The DreamWorks animated comedy declined only 41% from the Friday-to-Sunday portion of last weekend's bow and pushed its ten-day tally to a lively $100.4M. Rising from second to first place is a rarity in today's competitive industry. The last time a film failed to open on top but then rose to number one later was Will Ferrell's family comedy Elf in November 2003. Madagascar now seems on a course to reach $170-180M making it the best non-ogre toon for the studio. After thirteen straight weeks of a new film opening at number one, the last two frames have been led by holdovers.

Paramount inched ahead of Fox for second place with the Adam Sandler comedy The Longest Yard grossing $26.1M and Star Wars Episode III taking in $25.1M. The prison remake enjoyed a good hold for a Sandler pic falling 45% which pushed the ten-day sum to $95.8M. Yard might find its way to $150-160M making it one of the top films ever for the funnyman.

Revenge of the Sith, after two weeks at number one, dropped 55% and raised its 18-day tally to a towering $307.9M. On Saturday, it crossed the $300M mark in a record 17 days beating the old 18-day benchmark set a year ago by Shrek 2. Episode III experienced a virtually identical third-weekend hold as Episode II which fell 56% on the same weekend. Attack of the Clones faced tougher competition, though, for its male audience with the action thriller The Sum of All Fears and the spy comedy Undercover Brother opening to a combined $43.2M. This weekend's new films drew more from a female audience. Sith raced up the all-time domstic blockbusters list and now sits at number 19 ahead of Independence Day which grossed $306.2M in 1996. Episode III looks like it will go on to reach $375-400M from North America. The worldwide tally has already zoomed to $617M.

Russell Crowe fought his way into the box office ring and placed fourth with a $18.3M opening for Cinderella Man. The Ron Howard-directed drama about boxer James J. Braddock averaged a solid $6,515 from 2,812 theaters for Universal. Though a good start, the bow did not match the openings of recent critically-acclaimed summer period dramas aimed at mature audiences. In 2003, the studio's own Seabiscuit debuted with $20.9M and a $10,485 average while 2002's Road to Perdition launched with $22.1M and a $12,287 average. Both of those films were released later in the summer when audiences tend to get sick of mindless popcorn flicks and begin craving serious, quality material deserving of Oscar recognition.

Co-starring Renee Zellweger and Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man played to an adult female audience. According to studio research, the crowd was very similar to the demographics of last weekend's sneak previews with 67% of the audience being age 35 or older and 53% being women. An extraordinarily high 98% of those polled rated the PG-13 pic "excellent" or "very good" so long-term playability seems strong, especially since there are so few films this month targeting its core audience. Critics gave much praise to Cinderella Man.

Teenage girls powered The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants to the number five spot with $9.8M and $13.6M since its Wednesday launch. Playing in 2,583 locations, the Warner Bros. saga about four gal pals separated over a summer break averaged a decent $3,807 over three days. Critics were generally pleased with the PG pic which played as counterprogramming for an audience uninterested in Skywalker and Sandler.

Opening poorly in seventh place was the skater drama Lords of Dogtown which stumbled to $5.6M from 1,865 theaters for a mild $3,015 average. Saturday grosses were down an alarming 29% from Friday's soft debut signaling a quick trip to the video shelves is in store. Young dudes were the core crowd with studio research putting the audience at 54% male and 67% under 21. Reviews were not very positive.

New Line's Monster-in-Law dropped 41% to $6M pushing its cume to $71.1M. Lions Gate followed with its durable drama Crash which slipped only 30% to $3.3M for a total to date of $40.9M. The Will Ferrell comedy Kicking and Screaming grossed $2.3M, down 55%, and lifted its sum to $47.7M for Universal. Rounding out the top ten was the Jet Li actioner Unleashed which fell 55% to $842,482 giving Focus $23.6M to date.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Universal's United Nations thriller The Interpreter took in $799,175 in its seventh session boosting the cume to $70.4M. The $80M Nicole Kidman-Sean Penn film looks to conclude with a solid $72M domestically. It has grossed an additional $67.7M from overseas markets.

Fox's $140M epic Kingdom of Heaven fell 64% to $607,075 in its fifth crusade pushing the total to only $46.1M. Orlando Bloom's starring vehicle should finish with a disappointing $48M from North America. Internationally, though, sales have been much stronger with Kingdom taking in $151M to date. Warner Bros. collected $448,233 for the horror remake House of Wax plunging by two-thirds. The $35M fright flick has grossed $30.7M and should finish with under $32M.

The top ten films grossed $125.5M which was down 31% from last year when Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban opened at number one with a June record $93.7M; and down 19% from 2003 when 2 Fast 2 Furious debuted in the top spot with $50.5M.

Compared to projections, Cinderella Man opened below my $25M forecast while Sisterhood debuted on target with my $10M prediction. Lords of Dogtown bowed with about half of my $11M projection.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Mr. & Mrs. Smith. In last week's survey, readers were asked which super hero film would be the biggest this summer. Of 2,630 responses, 84% picked Batman Returns and 16% selected The Fantastic Four.

For a NEW review of Cinderella Man, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Honeymooners, The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D, and High Tension all open.

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

# Title Jun 3 - 5 May 27 - 29 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Madagascar $ 28,110,235 $ 47,224,594 -40.5 4,142 2 $ 6,787 $ 100,377,791 DreamWorks
2 The Longest Yard 26,078,156 47,606,480 -45.2 3,634 2 7,176 95,782,410 Paramount
3 Star Wars Episode III 25,088,336 55,205,972 -54.6 3,650 3 6,874 307,892,961 Fox
4 Cinderella Man 18,320,205 2,812 1 6,515 18,320,205 Universal
5 The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 9,833,340 2,583 1 3,807 13,575,149 Warner Bros.
6 Monster-in-Law 6,021,418 10,242,898 -41.2 3,025 4 1,991 71,107,390 New Line
7 Lords of Dogtown 5,623,373 1,865 1 3,015 5,623,373 Sony
8 Crash 3,266,884 4,658,473 -29.9 1,319 5 2,477 40,932,504 Lions Gate
9 Kicking and Screaming 2,311,155 5,131,195 -55.0 1,836 4 1,259 47,720,545 Universal
10 Unleashed 842,482 1,886,465 -55.3 579 4 1,455 23,556,488 Focus
11 The Interpreter 799,175 2,072,670 -61.4 686 7 1,165 70,405,780 Universal
12 Kingdom of Heaven 607,075 1,691,570 -64.1 571 5 1,063 46,117,399 Fox
13 House of Wax 448,233 1,304,602 -65.6 538 5 833 30,695,532 Warner Bros.
14 Mad Hot Ballroom 345,793 346,178 -0.1 96 4 3,602 1,154,048 Paramount Classics
15 Layer Cake 345,603 328,497 5.2 200 4 1,728 1,166,704 Sony Classics
16 Sahara 336,654 447,642 -24.8 272 8 1,238 66,924,356 Paramount
17 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 321,635 722,748 -55.5 301 6 1,069 49,307,254 Buena Vista
18 Ladies in Lavender 315,047 422,221 -25.4 96 6 3,282 2,055,667 Roadside Attractions
19 The Pacifier 312,168 338,072 -7.7 361 13 865 111,277,592 Buena Vista
20 Robots 208,496 338,371 -38.4 354 12 589 127,005,216 Fox
Top 5 $ 107,430,272 $ 165,411,139 -35.1
Top 10 125,495,584 177,024,919 -29.1
Top 20 129,535,463 180,705,857 -28.3
Top 20 vs. 2004 129,535,463 184,677,799 -29.9

Last Updated : June 6, 2005 at 6:30PM EDT