Weekend Box Office (June 24 - 26, 2005)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Witches, zombies, and love bugs failed to knock Batman Begins out of the number one spot at the North American box office during the 18th consecutive weekend when ticket sales were down from last year. The super hero actioner grossed $27.6M in its second weekend, according to final studio figures, to remain atop the charts falling a moderate 43% from its opening weekend. Given the comic book genre, the hold was impressive and gave Warner Bros. a cume of $122.5M after 12 days of release. The Christopher Nolan-directed film could find its way to $185-190M domestically. Overseas, Batman Begins also held up well grossing $27.9M from 85 markets to boost the international cume to $84.6M. Holdover markets dropped by an average of only 32%. The Caped Crusader's worldwide tally now stands at $207.1M after less than two weeks.

Opening in second place was the Nicole Kidman-Will Ferrell comedy Bewitched which conjured up $20.1M in its first weekend with ticket buyers. Sony launched the PG-13 film in 3,174 locations and averaged a solid $6,343 per site. The Nora Ephron-directed pic found Ferrell playing a Hollywood actor starring in a revival of the hit 1960s sitcom with Kidman playing a real witch. As expected, the studio found that adult women made up the core audiecne. Females accounted for 58% of the crowd and 54% were over the age of 25. Critics were mostly unimpressed with the pricey pic which cost over $80M to produce.

Bewitched essentially opened like a Kidman flick. The figure was just a bit weaker than the $21.4M bow of last June's comedy The Stepford Wives as well as April's political thriller The Interpreter which debuted to $22.8M. Things will get pretty rocky on Wednesday when Tom Cruise invades theaters with War of the Worlds which aims to bump movies starring his current fiancee Katie Holmes and his ex-wife Nicole Kidman down.

After last weekend, when the box office came within a hair of beating the year-ago frame, sales this time were significantly behind 2004 as the top ten was down 12% from last year. The number one film may have been stronger than last year's when Fahrenheit 9/11 was a surprise chart-topper with $23.9M, however a lack of depth continues to hold the marketplace back. A year ago, thirteen different films managed weekend takes of more than $4M each. This weekend, only eight surpassed that mark.

A lack of muscle is even hurting the top films as the three biggest summer blockbusters to date - Star Wars Episode III, Madagascar, and The Longest Yard - have grossed a combined $660.6M compared to $783.9M at this point a year ago for the top three performers. That makes for a disturbing gap of over $123M. Even previous years were stronger with the top three hits at this point totaling $744.3M in 2003 and $770.5M in 2002. The Cruise-Spielberg combo is expected to set off fireworks over the upcoming holiday frame, however it is not expected to reach the dizzying heights of Spider-Man 2 from a year ago which could see the current slump extend to 19 straight weekends. That puts the industry's hopes onto the eight shoulders of the Fantastic Four on the July 8 frame to turn things around.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were still a popular couple with moviegoers. Their action hit Mr. & Mrs. Smith slipped only 35% in its third weekend and finished in third place with $16.8M. The Fox hit has grossed an explosive $125.5M in 17 days.

Coasting into fourth place was Disney's G-rated comedy Herbie: Fully Loaded which opened with $12.7M from a massive launch in 3,521 theaters. Averaging a mild $3,610 over three days, the Lindsay Lohan film has taken in $17.7M since its Wednesday debut. The Friday-to-Sunday performance marks the worst opening ever for a film launching in over 3,500 theaters. The bow also did not approach the strength of Disney's recent girl-driven summer films like Lohan's Freaky Friday from 2003 or last year's The Princess Diaries 2 which both enjoyed early August five-day openings of $33.1M and $37.1M, respectively. According to studio research, Herbie drew an audience that was 57% female and 71% families. Reviews were mixed. Exit polls were strong and the studio is hoping that young girls not interested in seeing aliens wage war against our world will instead opt for Herbie over the long Independence Day holiday weekend.

Universal's zombie thriller Land of the Dead debuted in fifth place with $10.2M. The George A. Romero-directed film averaged a commendable $4,545 from 2,249 theaters and appealed to the typical male horror crowd. According to studio data, 67% of the audience was under 25 and 62% was male. An alarming 22% drop from Friday to Saturday hints that the bulk of the fans rushed out early and that long-term prospects seem shaky, even for a fright flick. Dead carries a $15M production cost making it not too risky of an investment. Reviews were surprisingly positive for a zombie pic.

The top-grossing summer films followed. Madagascar placed sixth with $7.4M, off only 31%, for a $160.2M total for DreamWorks. Fox's Star Wars Episode III slipped 39% to $6.1M giving the Jedi adventure $358.5M to date. On Sunday, Revenge of the Sith climbed to number ten on the all-time domestic blockbusters chart surpassing Jurassic Park which grossed $357.1M back in 1993. Adam Sandler's The Longest Yard followed with $5.5M pushing Paramount's sum to $141.9M.

The Miramax kidpic The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D fell 48% in its third weekend to $3.5M. Universal's Russell Crowe film Cinderella Man punched up $3.4M, down 38%. Totals stand at $30.5M and $49.8M.

Lions Gate got off to a solid start for its inner city dancing documentary Rize which opened in 352 theaters grossing $1.6M for a $4,473 average. The R-rated film earned strong reviews.

Three smaller summer entries dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Universal's comedy The Perfect Man tumbled 51% in its second weekend to $2.6M giving the mother-daughter pic only $10.9M in ten days. The Hilary Duff-Heather Locklear title should finish with a puny $13-15M. Fellow femme flick The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fell 51% to $1.5M. Warner Bros. has grossed a decent $34M and should conclude with about $37M. Paramount's remake misfire The Honeymooners crashed 62% to $1M for a miserable cume of $11.6M. Look for a $13M final.

The top ten films grossed $113.5M which was down 12% from last year when Fahrenheit 9/11 opened at number one with $23.9M; but up 5% from 2003 when Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle debuted in the top spot with $37.6M.

Compared to projections, Bewitched opened a couple of notches below my $24M forecast while Herbie: Fully Loaded debuted below my $18M three-day prediction. Land of the Dead and Rize both bowed very close to my respective projections of $11M and $2M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on War of the Worlds. In last week's survey, readers were asked how the opening of Batman Begins compared to expectations. Of 2,462 responses, 40% said it was Better while 60% thought it was Worse.

For a movie review of Batman Begins and a game review of Cold Winter, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when War of the Worlds and Rebound both open.

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

# Title Jun 24 - 26 Jun 17 - 19 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Batman Begins $ 27,589,389 $ 48,745,440 -43.4 3,858 2 $ 7,151 $ 122,511,813 Warner Bros.
2 Bewitched 20,131,130 3,174 1 6,343 20,131,130 Sony
3 Mr. & Mrs. Smith 16,825,209 26,037,023 -35.4 3,265 3 5,153 125,513,483 Fox
4 Herbie: Fully Loaded 12,709,221 3,521 1 3,610 17,745,586 Buena Vista
5 Land of the Dead 10,221,705 2,249 1 4,545 10,221,705 Universal
6 Madagascar 7,434,917 10,737,325 -30.8 2,948 5 2,522 160,191,242 DreamWorks
7 Star Wars Episode III 6,113,071 10,038,498 -39.1 2,371 6 2,578 358,469,219 Fox
8 The Longest Yard 5,527,359 8,239,853 -32.9 2,516 5 2,197 141,947,805 Paramount
9 The Adventures of Sharkboy... 3,496,044 6,692,907 -47.8 2,352 3 1,486 30,539,862 Miramax
10 Cinderella Man 3,446,235 5,572,285 -38.2 1,677 4 2,055 49,768,535 Universal
11 The Perfect Man 2,622,865 5,300,980 -50.5 2,090 2 1,255 10,908,500 Universal
12 Rize 1,574,787 352 1 4,474 1,574,787 Lions Gate
13 The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 1,535,355 3,127,232 -50.9 1,411 4 1,088 33,971,399 Warner Bros.
14 Crash 1,030,658 1,297,689 -20.6 492 8 2,095 48,198,479 Lions Gate
15 The Honeymooners 1,015,466 2,648,330 -61.7 1,032 3 984 11,618,216 Paramount
16 Howl's Moving Castle 581,654 864,761 -32.7 202 3 2,879 2,515,068 Buena Vista
17 Mad Hot Ballroom 512,119 416,004 23.1 192 7 2,667 3,060,428 Paramount Classics
18 Monster-in-Law 496,923 1,125,250 -55.8 611 7 813 79,878,402 New Line
19 Ladies in Lavender 281,354 251,403 11.9 110 9 2,558 3,376,591 Roadside Attractions
20 Kicking and Screaming 260,925 419,540 -37.8 355 7 735 50,995,180 Universal
Top 5 $ 87,476,654 $ 103,798,139 -15.7
Top 10 113,494,280 127,139,873 -10.7
Top 20 123,406,386 133,008,390 -7.2
Top 20 vs. 2004 123,406,386 145,954,221 -15.4

Last Updated : June 27, 2005 at 5:15PM EDT