Weekend Box Office (June 4 - 6, 2004)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The boy wizard is as hot as ever. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third film in the blockbuster fantasy series, debuted with $93.7M, according to final studio figures, generating the third-best opening weekend in history. Warner Bros. launched the PG-rated film in 3,855 theaters (including Imax locations) and averaged a spectacular $24,303 per playdate. That gave Azkaban the best debut in the series beating the $90.3M of 2001's The Sorcerer's Stone and the $88.4M of 2002's The Chamber of Secrets. Adjusting for ticket price increases, total admissions for Azkaban probably trailed its two predecessors by a small margin.

With a new director (Alfonso Cuaron) and a new summer release date, the latest Potter pic was still able to tap into the multitudes of fans who for the most part are still as interested as ever in seeing their favorite wizard live out his stories on the big screen. Among Friday-to-Sunday opening weekend grosses, Azkaban's tally trails only Spider-Man's $114.8M and Shrek 2's $108M.

The third wizard tale also cast a spell on box offices around the world grossing $113.5M from 7,885 screens in 24 countries since its debut last Monday in its first market, the United Kingdom. Ranking number one everywhere it is playing, key market grosses included a record $43.5M in one week in the UK, $16.4M from France and $15.3M in Germany.

After two weeks at number one, Shrek 2 settled for second place but held up well considering it was coming off of a holiday frame and faced intense competition from Harry Potter. The DreamWorks ogre sequel grossed $37.9M, off 47%, and boosted its runaway cume to a staggering $314.5M. That makes Shrek 2 the fastest film in history to surpass the $300M mark doing it in just 18 days beating Spider-Man's record by four full days. The meet-the-parents toon tale zoomed up to number 14 on the all-time domestic blockbusters chart just ahead of The Fellowship of the Ring which grossed $314.2M. Shrek 2 is on course to leap over the $400M hurdle and become one of the top five movies of all time.

After a powerful opening weekend over the Memorial Day holiday session, Fox's disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow was struck by the biggest fall in the top ten crumbling 60% to $27.9M. After ten days, the Roland Emmerich-directed ice age pic has grossed a stunning $128.5M and should find its way to $180-190M domestically. Overseas, Tomorrow hauled in an estimated $53.3M from 9,500 screens in 112 markets lifting the two-week cume to a massive $178.5M easily outdistancing domestic. Global gross stands at a potent $307M and still warming rapidly.

In its second weekend, the Kate Hudson comedy Raising Helen dropped an acceptable 40% to $6.6M for a ten-day cume of $24.1M. The Buena Vista release should find its way to a mediocre $45M.

Brad Pitt and company took fifth place with the epic actioner Troy which grossed $6M falling 50% from last weekend. The Warner Bros. title has grossed $119.3M in 24 days and is headed for a domestic finish in the area of $135M. Overseas, Troy brought in an estimated $23.3M from 8,676 screens in 58 markets. That gives the $175M-budgeted film an international cume of $265.2M and an impressive worldwide tally to date of $384.6M with the quadruple-century mark looking to fall by next weekend.

Paramount's Mean Girls dipped 42% to $2.9M for a $78.2M total thus far. MGM followed with $2.8M for the comedy Soul Plane which dropped 51% in its second weekend leaving a ten-day gross of $11M. A $16-18M final seems likely.

Tumbling 54% to $2.4M was the summer kickoff pic Van Helsing which boosted its domestic cume to $114.6M. The Universal monster flick is losing steam fast overseas due to intense competition from Troy and Harry Potter. Its international weekend estimate stood at just $4.5M lifting the overseas take to $139M and the worldwide sum to a good $253M.

Fox's Man on Fire grossed $1M, off 54%, for a cume of $75.4M. Rounding out the top ten was the indie hit documentary Super Size Me with $842,684. Down only 22%, the Roadside/Goldwyn release has collected $6.2M to date and enjoyed its third consecutive week in the ten spot.

The top ten films grossed an enormous $182M which was up 18% from last year when 2 Fast 2 Furious debuted at number one with $50.5M; and up an astounding 82% from 2002 when The Sum Of All Fears stayed on top with $19.2M.

Compared to projections, Harry Potter was on target with my $93M forecast.

For a review of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Stepford Wives, Garfield, and The Chronicles of Riddick all open.

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

# Title Jun 4 - 6 May 28 - 30 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban $ 93,687,367 3,855 1 $ 24,303 $ 93,687,367 Warner Bros.
2 Shrek 2 37,931,716 72,170,363 -47.4 4,131 3 9,182 314,523,202 DreamWorks
3 The Day After Tomorrow 27,869,665 68,743,584 -59.5 3,444 2 8,092 128,478,844 Fox
4 Raising Helen 6,550,342 10,985,597 -40.4 2,721 2 2,407 24,064,716 Buena Vista
5 Troy 5,977,491 11,955,697 -50.0 2,750 4 2,174 119,290,098 Warner Bros.
6 Mean Girls 2,927,211 5,031,834 -41.8 1,817 6 1,611 78,157,529 Paramount
7 Soul Plane 2,755,007 5,648,486 -51.2 1,566 2 1,759 10,986,076 MGM
8 Van Helsing 2,439,860 5,261,615 -53.6 2,059 5 1,185 114,601,155 Universal
9 Man on Fire 1,047,993 2,260,845 -53.6 683 7 1,534 75,377,549 Fox
10 Super Size Me 842,684 1,081,968 -22.1 205 5 4,111 6,208,445 Roadside / Goldwyn
11 13 Going On 30 356,806 1,073,040 -66.7 423 7 844 55,258,250 Sony
12 A Day Without A Mexican 353,936 322,765 9.7 101 3 3,504 2,477,890 Televisa Cine
13 Saved! 340,343 345,136 -1.4 31 1 10,979 922,409 UA
14 Kill Bill Vol.2 331,890 575,555 -42.3 248 7 1,338 64,654,491 Miramax
15 Breakin' All the Rules 300,373 846,691 -64.5 273 3 1,100 11,516,048 Sony
16 Scooby Doo 2 215,073 51,397 205 11 1,049 82,476,099 Warner Bros.
17 Coffee and Cigarettes 199,329 264,454 -24.6 38 3 5,246 1,108,673 MGM
18 NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience 194,118 364,930 -46.8 54 12 3,595 12,650,404 Warner Bros.
19 Eternal Sunshine 185,156 271,109 -31.7 136 10 1,361 33,745,508 Focus
20 Hidalgo 171,439 246,741 -30.5 290 14 591 66,617,426 Buena Vista
Top 5 $ 172,016,581 $ 169,503,727 1.5
Top 10 182,029,336 184,213,029 -1.2
Top 20 184,677,799 188,264,733 -1.9
Top 20 vs. 2003 184,677,799 159,468,406 15.8

Last Updated : June 7, 2004 at 5:00PM EDT

Gitesh Pandya can be seen each Friday on "The Biz" airing at 12:30pm ET on CNNfn.