Weekend Box Office (June 11 - 13, 2004)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Despite losing much of its magical powers, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban still locked up the number one spot fending off competition from three new films which targeted different audiences all managing to post solid debuts. For the first time in box office history, five films grossed over $20M each over the same weekend including newcomers The Chronicles of Riddick from Universal, Fox's Garfield: The Movie, and Paramount's The Stepford Wives which all opened within a $3M span of each other. The marketplace expanded to accommodate a whole collection of promising titles showing remarkable breadth in the top ten.

Crumbling 63% in its sophomore session, Azkaban grossed a still-impressive $34.9M, according to final studio figures, and boosted its ten-day tally to $158M. The fall was much worse than the franchise has seen in the past. The first film in the Warner Bros. series, The Sorcerer's Stone, dropped only 36% in its second weekend in 2001 as it was helped by the Thanksgiving holiday while The Chamber of Secrets fell 52% a year later. Although Azkaban posted the best opening of the three, its sophomore take quickly slipped to the worst of the trio behind Stone's $57.5M and Chamber's $42.2M.

After ten days of release, the new story in the Hogwarts saga stands 15% behind the same gross for Stone, but 7% ahead of Chamber at the same point. With so much upfront demand, little crossover to non-fans, and a gargantuan amount of screens, Azkaban has been soaking up most of its business in the early days. At its current pace, look for the PG-rated film to reach the vicinity of $240-250M which would put it behind the last two Potter pics.

Overseas, Azkaban grossed $66.4M from 40 countries on 9,900 screens this weekend including top spot debuts in 16 new markets like Australia, Sweden, Denmark, and South Africa. The international cume stands at $204.8M lifting the worldwide gross to a towering $363M after only two weeks.

Universal led the charge among the weekend's new releases with the sci-i actioner The Chronicles of Riddick which opened to $24.3M from 2,757 theaters. Vin Dielsel's $100M-budgeted sequel to 2000's Pitch Black averaged a muscular $8,810 per site and played mostly to a young male audience. Studio exit polls showed that 58% of the audience was male and 52% was under 25 which was in line with Universal's expectations. Long-term playability could be rocky for Riddick as it is for most sci-fi sequels. Friday grosses represented an alarmingly high 42% of the entire weekend take indicating that fans wanted to see the PG-13 film right away leaving fewer fans left for the days and weeks to follow.

Shrek 2 dropped to third place but is still packing them in easing 39% to $23.3M. Enjoying the smallest decline in the top ten, the DreamWorks sensation boosted its jaw-dropping cume to $353.3M and set yet another milestone becoming the fastest film to reach the $350M mark doing it in just 26 days. That beats Spider-Man's old record by five full days. On Saturday, Shrek 2 surpassed last summer's Disney/Pixar smash Finding Nemo to become the top-grossing animated film ever. The ogre tale also smashed its way into the all-time top ten on the domestic blockbusters list jumping up to number nine right above The Two Towers ($340.7M including re-release).

Pouncing into the fourth slot was Fox's family comedy Garfield: The Movie with $21.7M from 3,094 theaters. Averaging a solid $7,022 per venue, the PG-rated pic features Bill Murray as the voice of the popular feline comic strip character. The $50M production attracted an audience that was 54% families and plait evenly between genders, according to studio research. Despite Harry Potter and Shrek 2 gobbling up nearly $60M in business from similar audiences, Garfield still managed to find its place and hopes to keep moving forward as more more school children begin summer vacation with each passing day.

Nicole Kidman enjoyed her biggest opening ever for a lead role with The Stepford Wives which bowed to $21.4M taking fifth place. The Paramount release which co-stars Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close, Bette Midler, and Christopher Walken averaged an obedient $7,003 from 3,057 theaters. Directed by Frank Oz (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, In & Out), Stepford connected mostly with an adult female audience, as expected. Studio data revealed that an overwhelming 70% of the crowd was female and 60% was age 25 or older. Co-produced with DreamWorks for $90M, the dark comedy stood out in a marketplace full of kids movies and action pictures. Wives will try to follow the pattern of other recent early summer films aimed at adult women like Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Kidman's own Moulin Rouge which went on to gross more than four times their opening weekend figures.

The global warming disaster pic The Day After Tomorrow fell 48% to $14.5M in its third weekend. After 17 days, the Fox hit has collected $153.1M. Off 43% in its third weekend was Buena Vista's Kate Hudson comedy Raising Helen with $3.7M for a total of $31.3M. Warner Bros. followed with Troy which grossed $3.4M, down 43%, giving the Brad Ptt epic $125.6M domestically. Internationally, the Wolfgang Petersen film is experiencing staying power and grossed $16.6M from 59 markets boosting the overseas total to $293.3M and the global haul to a massive $419M.

MGM/UA widened its indie religious satire Saved! from 31 to 589 theaters across the country and hit the top ten with $2.5M. Averaging a good, but not heavenly, $4,304 per location, the Mandy Moore-Jena Malone pic has taken in $3.7M to date. The not-so-pious Mean Girls rounded out the top ten with $1.5M, down 49%, for a total to date of $81.3M.

With Shrek 2 looking to dominate the summer landscape, DreamWorks got cracking on its next release by offering sneak previews on Friday evening for the Tom Hanks-Steven Spielberg film The Terminal. In 150 theaters, the PG-13 film about an Eastern European immigrant stuck living in an airport terminal after his country is overthrown generated 85% capacity with about 90% of the shows sold out, according to the studio. The audience was 56% female and more than half were 25 or older. Younger moviegoers actually liked the film better as the percentage of those polled which found the film "excelent" or "very good" was over 90% for those under 25 and in the 80s for those 25 and older. The Terminal opens on Friday in about 2,700 theaters opposite the comedy Dodgeball and the family adventure Around the World in 80 Days.

Fox Searchlight generated a powerful debut for its new comedy Napoleon Dynamite which grossed $116,666 from six theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Averaging an explosive $19,444, the Jared Hess-directed nerd story will expand into five more cities on Friday and will slowly roll out throughout June and July giving summer moviegoers an alternative to the mindless action extravaganzas.

Four films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. The summer-launching monster mash Van Helsing tumbled 51% to $1.2M in its sixth scare to boost its cume to $117M. Universal's $160M special effects-extravaganza should find its way to just under $120M domestically - a bit underwhelming considering pre-release expectations. Overseas, the Hugh Jackman film is also slowing rapidly and grossed $2M over the weekend to boost the international cume to $141M putting worldwide at $257M. With Japan as the only major market yet to open, the global gross for Van Helsing will try to climb to $300M falling well short of the $400M+ tallies collected by The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, both of which were also directed by Stephen Sommers and had smaller budgets.

MGM's airline comedy Soul Plane plunged 66% to $933,068 this weekend putting the total at just $13M. Produced for $17M, the Snoop Dogg flop should land with about $15M. Denzel Washington saw his bodyguard pic Man on Fire drop 57% to $452,980 lifting the sum to $76.3M. The $70M Fox production should conclude its mission with around $77M.

Indie sensation Super Size Me continued to expand into new franchises and has grossed $7.5M to date on its way to becoming the second highest-grossing documentary ever after Bowling For Columbine. That is, until Michael Moore's followup Fahrenheit 9/11 arrives on June 25th which in a mere week could zoom right to the top of that list.

The top ten films grossed $151.3M which was up 33% from last year when Finding Nemo reclaimed the number one spot with $28.4M; and even with 2002 when Scooby Doo opened on top with $54.2M.

Compared to projections, The Chronicles of Riddick opened a few notches below my $28M forecast while The Stepford Wives was on target with my $22M prediction. Garfield debuted better than my $17M projection.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on whether Dodgeball or The Terminal will open better next weekend. For a review of Riddick visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Terminal, Dodgeball, and Around the World in 80 Days all open.

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

# Title Jun 11 - 13 Jun 4 - 6 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban $ 34,910,393 $ 93,687,367 -62.7 3,855 2 $ 9,056 $ 157,975,042 Warner Bros.
2 The Chronicles of Riddick 24,289,165 2,757 1 8,810 24,289,165 Universal
3 Shrek 2 23,316,920 37,931,716 -38.5 3,843 4 6,067 353,333,317 DreamWorks
4 Garfield: The Movie 21,727,611 3,094 1 7,022 21,727,611 Fox
5 The Stepford Wives 21,406,781 3,057 1 7,003 21,406,781 Paramount
6 The Day After Tomorrow 14,538,226 27,869,665 -47.8 3,210 3 4,529 153,144,814 Fox
7 Raising Helen 3,705,336 6,550,342 -43.4 2,103 3 1,762 31,284,112 Buena Vista
8 Troy 3,417,016 5,977,491 -42.8 2,003 5 1,706 125,604,418 Warner Bros.
9 Saved! 2,535,013 340,343 644.8 589 3 4,304 3,717,375 MGM/UA
10 Mean Girls 1,486,032 2,927,211 -49.2 944 7 1,574 81,303,696 Paramount
11 Van Helsing 1,194,255 2,439,860 -51.1 1,034 6 1,155 116,989,795 Universal
12 Soul Plane 933,068 2,755,007 -66.1 783 3 1,192 13,009,074 MGM
13 Super Size Me 820,686 842,684 -2.6 230 6 3,568 7,533,912 Roadside / Goldwyn
14 Man on Fire 452,980 1,047,993 -56.8 402 8 1,127 76,293,464 Fox
15 Kill Bill Vol.2 221,512 331,890 -33.3 201 8 1,102 65,075,745 Miramax
16 NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience 213,014 194,118 9.7 45 13 4,734 13,043,892 Warner Bros.
17 A Day Without A Mexican 199,403 353,936 -43.7 74 4 2,695 2,832,595 Televisa Cine
18 13 Going On 30 180,276 356,806 -49.5 193 8 934 55,664,410 Sony
19 Coffee and Cigarettes 156,703 199,329 -21.4 46 4 3,407 1,362,068 MGM
20 The Ladykillers 146,368 42,332 245.8 231 12 634 39,349,265 Buena Vista
Top 5 $ 125,650,870 $ 172,016,581 -27.0
Top 10 151,332,493 182,029,336 -16.9
Top 20 155,850,758 184,677,799 -15.6
Top 20 vs. 2003 155,850,758 119,046,660 30.9

Last Updated : June 14, 2004 at 5:30PM EDT

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