Weekend Box Office (June 16 - 18, 2006)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Despite the arrival of four new films cluttering the multiplexes, the Disney/Pixar animated film Cars remained the most popular movie in North America for a second straight weekend. Among the freshman class, both the comedy Nacho Libre and the actioner The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift opened with impressive numbers targeting young male moviegoers. The Keanu Reeves-Sandra Bullock romance The Lake House appealed to adult women and saw a respectable showing while the kid sequel Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties opened poorly. With so much new product entering the marketplace, most holdovers suffered large declines.

Cars was once again the box office champion and grossed $33.7M in its second weekend, according to final studio data, boosting its ten-day cume to a stellar $117.1M. Though taking home another trophy, the G-rated film experienced a decline of 44% from last weekend which was higher than the sophomore drops of previous Disney/Pixar toons. The last film from the companies, The Incredibles, dipped only 29% while 2003's Finding Nemo eased 34%. Each bowed to about $70M and raced to over $143M in ten days. Cars opened last week about $10M weaker and is now eroding faster which means it is not likely to come close to the lofty heights reached previously. After ten days, Cars is running 18% behind the pace of Nemo and Incredibles. The talking automobile flick will still try to reach the $200M mark before running out of gas.

Opening a few notches behind in second place was the wrestling comedy Nacho Libre with $28.3M from 3,070 theaters. Averaging a muscular $9,221 per ring, the Paramount release stars Jack Black as a cook who moonlights as a flamboyant wrestler and was directed by Napoleon Dynamite's Jared Hess. The $35M film appealed to young guys with studio data showing that 53% of the audience was male and 55% was under the age of 25. Nacho Libre began its weekend a bit early with 10pm preview shows on Thursday night which helped propel Friday's opening day to a solid $11M making it number one in the marketplace for a day. The PG-rated film dropped 14% to $9.4M on Saturday however, which could indicate a bumpy ride ahead.

Universal raced into third place with its street racing sequel The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift which opened with $24M. The PG-13 pic debuted in 3,027 locations and averaged a solid $7,920. The studio generated a strong performance considering this was the third time around for the franchise and that most of the stars of the first two Furious films were nowhere to be found. Young guys were the driving force behind the $75M Drift which like its predecessors appealed to a multicultural audience. According to studio data, 58% of the audience was male, 60% was under 25, and 71% was non-white.

Lucas Black and Bow Wow led the mostly unknown cast as fans responded more to the fast cars and racing attitudes than to starpower. The studio's decision to include Vin Diesel's cameo in the television commercials also may have sparked interest from fans of the franchise. Tokyo Drift did not open as well as the first two pics in the series, but that was expected. In 2001, The Fast and the Furious opened to $40.1M on its way to $144.5M while its 2003 sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious debuted to $50.5M leading to a $127.2M tally. Tokyo Drift also opened in eight international markets this weekend grossing an estimated $7.5M from 825 theaters including number one openings in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Thailand. Japan, where the film is set, will open in September.

A dozen years after exciting audiences in Speed, Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock reunited in the romantic drama The Lake House which debuted in fourth place with $13.6M. The Warner Bros. release averaged a respectable $5,148 from 2,645 theaters. The PG-rated film was a remake of the Korean drama Il Mare and told the story of a man and a woman from two different years who communicate and fall in love through letters they send to each other in a magical mailbox at a lake house. Reviews were not very good and both stars routinely see bigger openings for their films.

Universal's The Break-Up dropped 52% in its third weekend and took fifth place with $9.8M boosting the 17-day cume to $92.3M. Fox took up the next three spots on the chart starting with the year's top-grossing domestic hit, X-Men: The Last Stand, which tumbled another 51% in its fourth outing and grossed $7.8M. With a stellar $216.2M in the bank, the mutant sequel became the top-grossing installment of the super hero trilogy surpassing the $214.9M of X2: X-Men United from 2003.

The kidpic sequel Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties flopped in its debut grossing only $7.3M. Playing in 2,946 theaters, the PG-rated comedy averaged a weak $2,474 per venue. The first Garfield opened to $21.7M in June 2004 on its way to $75.4M domestically and a stellar $198M worldwide forcing the studio to dip into the well again with a new story. Bill Murray returned to voice the fat cat in Kitties which brought the characters to England for another adventure, but most families did not show much interest.

The horror remake The Omen placed eighth with $5.6M making its decline 65%. The top ten's only R-rated pic has now grossed $47.2M to date for Fox. Sony's The Da Vinci Code followed with $5.3M, off 50%, pushing the domestic cume to $198.8M. Overseas, the Ron Howard-Tom Hanks vehicle uncovered another $15.2M this weekend as the international sum surged to $480M. The world's biggest blockbuster of the year has now taken in an incredible $679M globally. Rounding out the top ten was the animated pic Over the Hedge with $4.3M, off 58%, for a $139M total.

The biggest summer hits continued to keep pace with last year's. The collective gross for the top five summer releases reached $801.1M which was virtually even with the $802.5M from this point a year ago.

Four films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion fell 38% in its sophomore frame to $2.8M giving the Picturehouse release a ten-day tally of $9.1M. Look for a finish in the vicinity of $15M. The hit family comedy RV held up well during its seven-week run in the top ten, but this weekend the Robin Williams pic crashed 68% and grossed $603,441. With $66.5M in its tank, the Sony release is not expected to collect much more.

The Tom Cruise spy sequel Mission: Impossible III tumbled 56% in its seventh mission to $1.3M putting its cume at $130.2M. The Paramount sequel is the highest-grossing summer kick-off film since 2003's X2, but with a $150M budget and a deafening amount of marketing hype, it has to be considered somewhat disappointing for the studio. The first two Mission pics grossed $181M in 1996 and $215.4M in 2000. MI3 should end its campaign with around $132M. Overseas, the Ethan Hunt film has grossed more than $200M to date.

The summer season's second big offering Poseidon continued to sink dropping 66% in its sixth weekend to $633,288. The $160M Warner Bros. disaster film has taken in only $56.5M from North America making it one of the biggest underachievers of the summer. However, like most effects-driven action films, Poseidon is doing much better internationally where it grossed another $9M from 41 countries this weekend to boost the overseas take to $70.8M. Korea and Japan continue to be the most successful markets for the ocean liner pic with grosses that far outdistance those in key European territories.

The top ten films grossed $139.8M which was up 10% from last year when Batman Begins debuted at number one with $48.7M; and up 9% from 2004 when Dodgeball opened in the top spot with $30.1M.

Compared to projections, Nacho Libre and Tokyo Drift both opened a couple of notches higher than my respective forecasts of $24M and $21M. The Lake House opened below my $17M prediction and Garfield debuted with about half of my $14M projection.

For NEW reviews of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Wordplay, and the Alf: Season 3 DVD, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when both Click and Waist Deep open.

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

# Title Jun 16 - 18 Jun 9 - 11 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Cars $ 33,731,634 $ 60,119,509 -43.9 3,988 2 $ 8,458 $ 117,055,283 Buena Vista
2 Nacho Libre 28,309,599 3,070 1 9,221 28,309,599 Paramount
3 The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift 23,973,840 3,027 1 7,920 23,973,840 Universal
4 The Lake House 13,616,196 2,645 1 5,148 13,616,196 Warner Bros.
5 The Break-Up 9,831,145 20,325,790 -51.6 3,146 3 3,125 92,260,160 Universal
6 X-Men: The Last Stand 7,820,253 16,078,578 -51.4 2,812 4 2,781 216,218,853 Fox
7 Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties 7,288,977 2,946 1 2,474 7,288,977 Fox
8 The Omen 5,640,849 16,026,496 -64.8 2,723 2 2,072 47,188,054 Fox
9 The Da Vinci Code 5,266,560 10,443,347 -49.6 2,413 5 2,183 198,767,811 Sony
10 Over the Hedge 4,339,015 10,221,499 -57.6 2,606 5 1,665 139,047,483 Paramount
11 A Prairie Home Companion 2,846,704 4,566,293 -37.7 767 2 3,711 9,067,068 Picturehouse
12 An Inconvenient Truth 1,911,747 1,504,701 27.1 404 4 4,732 6,567,780 Par. Vantage
13 Mission: Impossible III 1,342,803 3,020,816 -55.5 1,002 7 1,340 130,162,653 Paramount
14 Poseidon 633,288 1,833,493 -65.5 730 6 868 56,511,405 Warner Bros.
15 The Shaggy Dog 604,547 832,370 -27.4 254 15 2,380 60,171,339 Buena Vista
16 RV 603,441 1,910,564 -68.4 668 8 903 66,512,237 Sony
17 Ice Age: The Meltdown 361,739 447,867 -19.2 348 12 1,039 192,831,967 Fox
18 Deep Sea 3-D 284,563 305,869 -7.0 45 16 6,324 11,540,184 Warner Bros.
19 Keeping Up with the Steins 222,554 331,406 -32.8 147 6 1,514 3,398,013 Miramax
20 Just My Luck 210,193 419,788 -49.9 233 6 902 16,773,391 Fox
Top 5 $ 109,462,414 $ 122,993,720 -11.0
Top 10 139,818,068 144,546,385 -3.3
Top 20 148,839,647 150,323,646 -1.0
Top 20 vs. 2005 148,839,647 133,008,390 11.9

Last Updated : June 19, 2006 at 6:30PM EDT

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Friday at 9:50am ET.