Weekend Box Office (July 4 - 6, 2008)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Will Smith took home yet another gold medal at the box office with his superhero-with-an-attitude actioner Hancock which opened at number one over the Fourth of July holiday weekend nearly doubling the gross of the frame's silver medalist. Sony's critically-panned title collected $62.6M over the Friday-to-Sunday period, according to final studio figures, and a solid $103.9M since its launch on Tuesday night with previews beginning at 7pm. The three-day average was a strong $15,789 from 3,965 locations.

Its five-and-a-half-day tally was the fourth biggest opening for the extended Independence Day holiday frame trailing 2004's Spider-Man 2 ($180.1M in six days), last year's Transformers ($155.4M in six-and-a-half days), and 2005's War of the Worlds ($112.7M in six days). Since the holiday falls on a different day each year prompting studios to bow their films in various ways, comparisons are not always fair. But in all three cases, the extended openings accounted for 48-49% of the eventual final domestic gross.

Smith once again proved that he's Hollywood's most bankable box office draw. Hancock was the actor's eighth consecutive number one opener, eighth consecutive film to break the $100M mark, and gave the actor his seventh consecutive year of having a film reach the nine-digit mark. Co-starring Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron, Hancock offers up a new take on the superhero story with a central character that drinks, curses, and roughs up children. The PG-13 film cost a reported $150M and Smith served as producer as well as star. Reviews were overwhelmingly negative but audiences came out anyway generating sales that were far from a record, but still very healthy nonetheless. Bad buzz could make the weeks ahead rocky though.

Hancock's journey began on Tuesday night with $6.8M, Wednesday's official opening day delivered $17.4M, and Thursday added in $17.1M more. The Fourth of July holiday fell on a Friday this year and saw Hancock take in $18.8M. Saturday climbed 39% to $26.1M while Sunday dropped by 32% to $17.8M. Sony launched the tentpole pic around the world this weekend and hauled in an additional $78M overseas bringing the global opening to a stellar $182M over the past week.

Following its top spot debut last week, Disney/Pixar's animated hit WALL•E fell 49% to second with $32.5M giving the G-rated toon a sturdy $127.2M in ten days. It was a larger than usual decline for a Pixar pic but the Fourth of July holiday falling on a Friday contributed to the slide. The robot adventure opened 34% higher than last summer's Ratatouille which debuted at the same time, but after ten days the lead was cut in half to 16%. Both periods include the Independence Day holiday.

But thanks to strong midweek sales at a time when kids are out of school, WALL•E's ten-day cume is 9% ahead of Cars and 8% ahead of Kung Fu Panda. Both of those animated hits opened in early June. The road ahead will not be an easy one as two more PG-rated family films open this Friday - the Brendan Fraser adventure film Journey to the Center of the Earth and the Eddie Murphy comedy Meet Dave. At its current pace, WALL•E could find its way to $235-245M domestically.

Universal's effects-driven actioner Wanted fell a steep 61% in its second weekend to $20.1M and boosted its ten-day total to $90.2M. The $75M Angelina Jolie assassin pic should find its way to $130-140M from North America making it the second biggest R-rated film of the year after Sex and the City. Overseas, Wanted grossed an estimated $18.8M from 23 markets pushing the international total to $64.2M and the global gross to $155M so far.

Steve Carell's Get Smart landed in fourth in its third frame with $11.1M. Off 45%, the Warner Bros.release has collected $98.1M in 17 days. Paramount's animated hit Kung Fu Panda followed in fifth with $7.3M, off 37%, lifting the total to $193.2M. Currently the third largest film of 2008, the DreamWorks production looks to end up with about $220M and could have its toon crown swiped by WALL•E later this summer.

Universal's comic reboot The Incredible Hulk fell 49% to $4.9M and brought its sum to $124.8M which was almost identical to the $124.7M that 2003's Hulk took in at the same point in its run. The new pic opened lower but has enjoyed somewhat better legs. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull followed with $3.8M, down only 27%, for a new cume of $306.4M. That puts the Steven Spielberg sequel at number 26 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters ahead of the $306.2M of 1996's Independence Day. Of course, ticket prices were much lower a dozen years ago when Will Smith scored his first of five number one openers over this holiday and its tally today would be roughly $490M.

Abigail Breslin landed in eighth place with her Depression-era pic Kit Kittredge: An American Girl which disappointed in wide release grossing only $3.3M in its first weekend of national play. Expanding from five to 1,843 locations, the G-rated pic aimed at young girls averaged a poor $1,789 per theater. Given the popularity of the books and toys that the film is based on and the sizzling numbers posted in limited release, a much stronger turnout was expected. Total sits at just $5.8M for Picturehouse.

Comedies rounded out the top ten with Sex and the City grossing $2.4M and You Don't Mess With the Zohan taking in $2M. Totals stand at $144.9M and $94.8M, respectively.

Two critically-panned films fell from the top ten this weekend. The Mike Myers comedy The Love Guru tumbled 66% to $1.8M for a weak cume of $29.4M. Budgeted at $60M, the Paramount release should finish with only $31-33M. Fox's M. Night Shyamalan thriller The Happening declined by 63% to $1.4M for a $62.1M total. Produced for about $55M, the R-rated pic should end up with around $65M which is a nice bounce back after the director's Lady in the Water which grossed $42.3M in 2006. But The Happening stills ranks as the second lowest performer for Shyamalan since he became a household name in 1999 with The Sixth Sense.

The top ten films grossed $149.9M which was off 6% from last year when Transformers opened in the top spot with $70.5M over three days; but up 8% from 2006's holiday frame when Superman Returns debuted at number one with $52.5M.

Compared to projections, Hancock opened a bit below my $66M forecast while Kit Kittredge debuted well below my $11M prediction.

For a NEW review of Hancock visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Hellboy II, Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D, and Meet Dave all open.

Marketplace - Shop for DVDs, electronics, books, and posters at discounted prices:

# Title Jul 4 - 6 Jun 27 - 29 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Hancock $ 62,603,879 3,965 1 $ 15,789 $ 103,877,446 Sony
2 WALL•E 32,509,203 63,087,526 -48.5 3,992 2 8,144 127,196,028 Buena Vista
3 Wanted 20,050,070 50,927,085 -60.6 3,185 2 6,295 90,186,395 Universal
4 Get Smart 11,109,408 20,211,242 -45.0 3,574 3 3,108 98,100,652 Warner Bros.
5 Kung Fu Panda 7,318,635 11,692,061 -37.4 3,347 5 2,187 193,221,867 Paramount
6 The Incredible Hulk 4,899,280 9,577,245 -48.8 3,043 4 1,610 124,841,395 Universal
7 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom... 3,774,807 5,179,960 -27.1 2,192 7 1,722 306,428,521 Paramount
8 Kit Kittredge: An American Girl 3,296,929 107,019 1,843 3 1,789 5,822,544 Picturehouse
9 Sex and the City 2,382,438 3,808,288 -37.4 1,275 6 1,869 144,891,325 New Line
10 You Don't Mess With the Zohan 1,981,251 3,175,214 -37.6 1,731 5 1,145 94,773,156 Sony
11 The Love Guru 1,806,545 5,340,895 -66.2 2,648 3 682 29,427,850 Paramount
12 Iron Man 1,459,613 2,257,113 -35.3 1,019 10 1,432 311,708,133 Paramount
13 The Happening 1,438,889 3,907,948 -63.2 1,795 4 802 62,053,729 Fox
14 Mongol 765,120 812,862 -5.9 253 5 3,024 3,472,331 Picturehouse
15 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian 551,513 1,037,841 -46.9 403 8 1,369 138,762,746 Buena Vista
16 The Visitor 337,105 295,387 14.1 176 13 1,915 8,131,561 Overture
17 The Strangers 234,900 632,115 -62.8 324 6 725 51,991,400 Universal
18 What Happens in Vegas 225,705 370,726 -39.1 303 9 745 78,755,577 Fox
19 Speed Racer 202,251 81,016 149.6 293 9 690 43,196,832 Warner Bros.
20 Gonzo 191,942 26 1 7,382 191,942 Magnolia
Top 5 $ 133,591,195 $ 155,495,159 -14.1
Top 10 149,925,900 176,907,464 -15.3
Top 20 157,139,483 183,015,963 -14.1
Top 20 vs. 2007 157,139,483 171,277,186 -8.3

Last Updated: July 7, 2008 at 11:00PM ET

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