Weekend Box Office (June 18 - 20, 2004)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Ben Stiller scored his third number-one hit in five months with the comedy Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story which upset the powerful Tom Hanks-Steven Spielberg combination in The Terminal which settled for a silver medal finish. Suffering a humiliating defeat at the polls was Jackie Chan whose new action-comedy Around the World in 80 Days failed to break double digits stumbling to a ninth-place showing. Most holdovers suffered very large declines showing once again how a summer film with legs has become an endangered species.

Stiller and on-screen nemesis Vince Vaughn faced off in Dodgeball and moviegoers lined up for the laughs spending $30.1M on tickets this weekend, according to final studio figures. The Fox hit averaged a potent $11,162 from 2,694 locations and came in slightly higher than the openings for Stiller's previous hits this year Along Came Polly ($27.7M in January) and Starsky and Hutch ($28.1M in March). Rated PG-13, Dodgeball cost a mere $20M to produce and will give its studio more good news this summer season. As expected, young males were the main audience as two-thirds of the crowd was under 25 and 57% was male, according to exit polls. By beating out The Terminal for the top spot, Dodgeball proved how powerful a force teens and young adults are at the box office, especially at this time of year when millions of students are finishing a long school year and are just looking for some low-brow comedy.

Debuting in second place, The Terminal grossed $19.1M from 2,811 theaters for a still-solid $6,778 average. The Tom Hanks-Catherine Zeta-Jones drama about an immigrant forced to live in an airport played to an older and more female audience than Dodgeball. DreamWorks research for the PG-13 pic showed that 75% of the crowd was 25 and over while 57% was female. Reviews for the third Spielberg-Hanks teaming were mixed.

After a two-week run at the top, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban fell to third place and lost 48% of its business grossing $18M in its third outing. The Warner Bros. franchise entry has now taken in $190.9M in 17 days which is off 13% from The Sorcerer's Stone and down 5% from The Chamber of Secrets after the same amount of time. Overseas, Azkaban collected an estimated $39M this weekend raising the international cume to $263.6M and the worldwide gross to $453M and counting.

Shrek 2 beat out The Passion of the Christ to become the year's top-grossing film this weekend. The ogre sequel's 40% drop was the best hold in the top ten as the DreamWorks smash grossed $13.9M boosting the cume to an eye-popping $378.6M. Shrek 2 now sits at number six on the all-time domestic blockbusters list right behind 2002's Spider-Man ($403.7M).

Last weekend's new releases all suffered big declines and filled up the next three slots. Fox's Garfield: The Movie suffered the least embarrassing drop eroding 48% to $11.3M for a ten-day tally of $42.4M. The $50M production should munch its way to about $70M. Paramount's $90M dark comedy The Stepford Wives crumbled 59% due to lukewarm word-of-mouth and direct competition from The Terminal and collected $8.8M. With $39M in ten days, a disappointing $60M final total seems likely.

Vin Diesel was pummeled by Dodgeball and suffered a 61% fall to $9.4M for The Chronicles of Riddick. The $100M sci-fi sequel has taken in $42.5M and should quickly end its run with only $60M. Falling 44% to eighth place was Fox's disaster hit The Day After Tomorrow with $8.1M and a remarkable $167.3M cume thus far.

In what will probably amount to the summer's first bonafide big-budget flop, the Jackie Chan adventure Around the World in 80 Days got stuck with a mere $7.6M in its opening weekend and a dismal $10.4M since its Wednesday launch. The Disney release was aimed at a family audience that currently has a wide assortment of other better choices like Garfield, Harry Potter and the monster hit Shrek 2 which is posting healthy repeat business. Carrying a production budget estimated to be north of $100M, 80 Days averaged a weak $2,705 from 2,801 theaters. With promising upcoming titles like White Chicks, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Spider-Man 2 looking for each and every screen they can get, exhibitors are not likely to hold onto their 80 Days prints for too long.

Rounding out the top ten was the Brad Pitt epic Troy with $1.8M, off 48%, giving Warner Bros. $129M to date from North America. The international market kicked in another $10.8M this weekend, according to estimates, shooting the overseas tally to $312.3M and the global gross to a whopping $441M.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Buena Vista's Raising Helen tumbled 65% to $1.3M in its fourth weekend for a total of $34.6M to date. The Kate Hudson comedy should end with a disappointing $36-37M. Grossing an estimated $1.2M was the MGM/UA religious satire Saved! which fell 52% to a cume of $6.5M.

Paramount's $17M spring hit Mean Girls fell 63% to $557,319 pushing the total to an impressive $82.8M. The studio's highest-grossing film since The Italian Job from over a year ago should find its way to $84M.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight's Napoleon Dynamite successfully expanded into five new markets grossing $193,506 from 18 theaters for a solid $10,750 average. With $404,000 to date, the PG-rated comedy will widen to eight more cities on Friday for a total of about 70 playdates.

The top ten films grossed $128.1M which was down 8% from last year when The Hulk opened at number one with $62.1M; and down 12% from 2002 when Minority Report debuted on top with $35.7M.

Compared to projections, Dodgeball shot well past my $22M forecast while The Terminal came in below my $28M prediction. Around the World in 80 Days opened to about half of my $14M projection.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Fahrenheit 9/11. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Dodgeball or The Terminal would open better. Of 4,019 responses, 62% correctly chose Dodgeball while 38% picked The Terminal.

For a review of The Chronicles of Riddick visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when White Chicks, Fahrenheit 9/11, The Notebook, and Two Brothers all open. Another

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

# Title Jun 18 - 20 Jun 11 - 13 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Dodgeball $ 30,070,196 2,694 1 $ 11,162 $ 30,070,196 Fox
2 The Terminal 19,053,199 2,811 1 6,778 19,053,199 DreamWorks
3 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 18,027,466 34,910,393 -48.4 3,805 3 4,738 190,925,253 Warner Bros.
4 Shrek 2 13,941,950 23,316,920 -40.2 3,306 5 4,217 378,623,263 DreamWorks
5 Garfield: The Movie 11,340,298 21,727,611 -47.8 3,150 2 3,600 42,357,064 Fox
6 The Chronicles of Riddick 9,415,155 24,289,165 -61.2 2,757 2 3,415 42,498,480 Universal
7 The Stepford Wives 8,762,198 21,406,781 -59.1 3,057 2 2,866 39,016,446 Paramount
8 The Day After Tomorrow 8,104,100 14,538,226 -44.3 2,667 4 3,039 167,310,267 Fox
9 Around the World in 80 Days 7,576,132 2,801 1 2,705 10,362,264 Buena Vista
10 Troy 1,778,352 3,417,016 -48.0 1,303 6 1,365 129,031,321 Warner Bros.
11 Raising Helen 1,292,792 3,705,336 -65.1 1,261 3 1,025 34,620,345 Buena Vista
12 Saved! 1,226,058 2,535,013 -51.6 592 3 2,071 6,501,521 MGM/UA
13 Super Size Me 616,670 820,686 -24.9 230 6 2,681 8,674,990 Roadside / Goldwyn
14 Mean Girls 557,319 1,486,032 -62.5 616 7 905 82,809,530 Paramount
15 Van Helsing 511,955 1,194,255 -57.1 520 6 985 118,033,050 Universal
16 Lakshya 380,000 59 1 6,441 380,000 UTV
17 Soul Plane 299,629 933,068 -67.9 280 3 1,070 13,707,942 MGM
18 Control Room 273,039 141,070 93.5 74 5 3,690 654,312 Magnolia
19 NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience 265,429 213,014 24.6 52 13 5,104 13,504,671 Warner Bros.
20 Man on Fire 247,093 452,980 -45.5 271 8 912 76,746,483 Fox
Top 5 $ 92,433,109 $ 125,650,870 -26.4
Top 10 128,069,046 151,332,493 -15.4
Top 20 133,739,030 155,850,758 -14.2
Top 20 vs. 2003 133,739,030 146,775,883 -8.9

Last Updated : June 21, 2004 at 9:45PM EDT

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