Weekend Box Office (June 10 - 12, 2005)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie made one irresistible pair at the North American box office as their new action-comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith charged into the number one spot giving each actor their biggest opening ever. Three other new releases saw not-so-sparkling results while a trio of holdovers remained strong in the top five. Ticket sales were once again down versus 2004 for the 16th consecutive weekend, however the slump may have seen its final frame as next weekend's Batman Begins could be able to reverse the curse.

Fox was back on top with an explosive debut for the assassin pic Smith which exceeded expectations and grossed $50.3M over the weekend, according to final studio figures. The PG-13 film about two covert killers married to each other played in 3,424 theaters and averaged a sensational $14,703 per venue. Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) directed Smith which opened much like last July's action sequel The Bourne Supremacy which launched with $52.5M on its way to $176.1M domestically. Pitt and Jolie scored new career-best debuts surpassing their previous top efforts Troy ($46.9M) and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider ($47.7M), respectively.

Produced for $110M, Mr. & Mrs. Smith boasted broad appeal and successfully attracted different audience groups with an entertaining product that offered huge stars and was clearly different from anything in the marketplace. Studio research indicated that females made up 56% of the crowd while 57% were 25 and older. Tabloid coverage earlier this year revolving around an affair between the leads certainly gave the film more media exposure. Reviews were mixed.

Pitt, who is one of the world's top box office commodities in international waters, is sure to lead Smith to a colossal worldwide tally. Last year, Troy amassed a staggering $497M globally with 73% coming from outside of North America. The married assassins invaded dozens of overseas markets this weekend including Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and several European territories shooting up an additional $32M in offshore coin from 35 markets.

After a week as king of the jungle, Madagascar dropped back to second place but continued to flex its muscles dropping only 39% to $17.2M in its third weekend. The DreamWorks toon has raised its 17-day cume to $128.4M. Madagascar started stronger than the studio's last animated entry Shark Tale, but is not holding up as well. The Will Smith-voiced fish pic grossed $22M in its third frame, easing only 30%, for a 17-day total of $118.7 last October. Madagascar may find its way to the vicinity of $170M domestically.

Dropping 41% to third place was Star Wars Episode III with $14.9M in its fourth voyage. The George Lucas megablockbuster has now hauled in $332.1M in 25 days and is still not declining the way most sci-fi sequels do. Revenge of the Sith climbed up to number 13 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters behind the $339.7M of 2003's Finding Nemo and should gain two more spots by next weekend. Episode III is also running 30% ahead of Episode II which grossed $255.1M in its first 25 days in 2002. Overseas, Sith boosted its cume to $340.6M pushing the global gross to $672.7M.

Add in the domestic takes of the previous two episodes and the new Star Wars trilogy has grossed $1.074 billion - the most ever for any trilogy beating the $1.06 billion lifetime tally of the first Star Wars trio. Ticket prices were lower in the years of release for the Han Solo films so its admissions total still stands much higher. At its current pace, Fox should expect to reach the neighborhood of $375M domestically with Episode III.

Adam Sandler and company followed with the prison football comedy The Longest Yard which took in $13.9M, off 47% in its third weekend. With $118.5M in 17 days, the Paramount release has become the comedian's sixth career $100M blockbuster and looks to be able to reach roughly $150M before its game clock runs out.

Miramax saw a respectable opening for its kid action flick The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D which debuted in fifth with $12.6M from 2,655 theaters. Robert Rodriguez's latest family project averaged a solid $4,739 and catered to those that have already visited the zany zoo animals in the African wild. The studio is hoping that parents who find Batman Begins to be too dark and violent for their younger children will instead take them for Sharkboy in the weeks ahead.

Russell Crowe lost considerable strength in the second round of his boxing drama Cinderella Man which fell a disturbing 47% to $9.7M. With only $34.6M in prize money after ten days, the pricey Universal-Miramax co-production failed to show the kind of legs other acclaimed summer films aimed at adults have displayed. A final domestic take of around $60M seems likely. The Ron Howard-directed pic had good reviews and positive exit poll results, however its core audience of older adults found that the Brad-Angelina action hit was offering much more entertainment bang for the buck in the next auditorium. With underperforming results from Cinderella Man and last June's The Terminal, studios are learning a hard lesson. High-brow films with A-list stars aimed at the thirty-plus crowd can better compete if released later in the summer rather than face the early crop of big-budget tentpole pics aimed at broad audiences. By mid-to-late July, mature moviegoers get sick of the mindless popcorn films of early summer and are more in the mood for serious fare with critical acclaim. Right now, explosions sell.

The teen girl saga The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants dropped a moderate 42% in its second weekend and claimed seventh place with $5.7M. Warner Bros. has grossed $23.7M in 12 days and seems headed for a finish of $35-40M.

The Paramount remake The Honeymooners was a flop in its debut selling just $5.5M worth of tickets in its first weekend in theaters. The PG-13 film, updating the popular Jackie Gleason television series with African American characters in today's society, averaged a weak $2,897 per location from 1,912 theaters. Reviews were generally poor for the comedy which starred Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps.

The Jennifer Lopez-Jane Fonda comedy Monster-in-Law fell 56% in its fifth round to $2.6M pushing New Line's cume to $76.5M. Barely debuting in the top ten with frighteningly poor results was the French horror film High Tension which grossed $1.9M from 1,323 theaters for a pitiful $1,434 average. A hybrid film with dialogue both subtitled and dubbed into English, the R-rated Lions Gate release should have better luck on video. The surprise hit Crash dropped 43% to $1.9M as well giving Lions Gate $44.3M to date.

Another foreign film fared much better in its debut in North America. Howl's Moving Castle, a blockbuster smash from Japan, bowed in 36 theaters this weekend in select cities and grossed $427,987 for a powerful $11,888 average. The Buena Vista release was dubbed into English and featured the voices of Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer, and Billy Crystal. Howl gobbled up over $175M just from Japan last winter where director Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) is a megastar, and opens wider across the domestic market on Friday. Reviews were very favorable.

Three films tumbled out of the top ten over the weekend. Sony's skater flick Lords of Dogtown crashed 67% in only its second weekend to gross $1.85M. The 1970s-set drama has taken in a mere $9.4M in ten days and should finish with a dismal $12M. Will Ferrell also took a tumble falling 64% with his family comedy Kicking and Screaming which grossed $821,855 in its fifth period. With $49.6M scored thus far, the $45M Universal release looks to end its season with a decent but not spectacular $51M. The Jet Li actioner Unleashed collected $215,330, down an alarming 75%, pushing the cume to $24.2M. The Focus release is nearly done with its run and will not take in much more.

The top ten films grossed $134.3M which was down 11% from last year when Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban remained at number one with $34.9M; but up 18% from 2003 when Finding Nemo reclaimed the top spot with $28.4M in its third frame.

Compared to projections, Mr. & Mrs. Smith opened much stronger than my $37M forecast while Sharkboy was on target with my $13M prediction. The Honeymooners and High Tension both debuted below my respective projections of $9M and $6M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on how the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes relationship will affect their summer films. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Mr. & Mrs. Smith will open with more than $30M. Of 4,152 responses, 51% correctly guessed Yes and 49% thought No.

For a NEW review of Batman Begins and a NEW DVD review of Seed of Chucky, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Batman and The Perfect Man both open.

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

# Title Jun 10 - 12 Jun 3 - 5 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Mr. & Mrs. Smith $ 50,342,878 3,424 1 $ 14,703 $ 50,342,878 Fox
2 Madagascar 17,180,801 28,110,235 -38.9 3,929 3 4,373 128,414,334 DreamWorks
3 Star Wars Episode III 14,851,474 25,088,336 -40.8 3,322 4 4,471 332,109,171 Fox
4 The Longest Yard 13,878,482 26,078,156 -46.8 3,654 3 3,798 118,484,565 Paramount
5 The Adventures of Sharkboy... 12,582,088 2,655 1 4,739 12,582,088 Miramax
6 Cinderella Man 9,728,955 18,320,205 -46.9 2,820 2 3,450 34,642,020 Universal
7 The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 5,711,420 9,833,340 -41.9 2,583 2 2,211 23,732,629 Warner Bros.
8 The Honeymooners 5,538,835 1,912 1 2,897 5,538,835 Paramount
9 Monster-in-Law 2,624,376 6,021,418 -56.4 1,949 5 1,347 76,475,163 New Line
10 High Tension 1,897,705 1,323 1 1,434 1,897,705 Lions Gate
11 Crash 1,876,639 3,266,884 -42.6 908 6 2,067 44,299,728 Lions Gate
12 Lords of Dogtown 1,851,630 5,623,373 -67.1 1,865 2 993 9,387,968 Sony
13 Kicking and Screaming 821,855 2,311,155 -64.4 754 5 1,090 49,619,995 Universal
14 Howl's Moving Castle 427,987 36 1 11,889 427,987 Buena Vista
15 Mad Hot Ballroom 405,192 345,793 17.2 126 5 3,216 1,720,942 Paramount Classics
16 The Interpreter 385,825 799,175 -51.7 364 8 1,060 71,179,015 Universal
17 Sahara 345,687 336,654 2.7 381 9 907 67,409,126 Paramount
18 Ladies in Lavender 291,347 315,047 -7.5 96 7 3,035 2,523,573 Roadside Attractions
19 The Pacifier 263,276 312,168 -15.7 302 14 872 111,722,699 Buena Vista
20 Layer Cake 253,691 345,603 -26.6 196 5 1,294 1,564,616 Sony Classics
Top 5 $ 108,835,723 $ 107,430,272 1.3
Top 10 134,337,014 125,495,584 7.0
Top 20 141,260,143 129,535,463 9.1
Top 20 vs. 2004 141,260,143 155,850,758 -9.4

Last Updated : June 13, 2005 at 5:45PM EDT