Weekend Box Office (July 14 - 16, 2006)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The Johnny Depp juggernaut Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest remained the most popular film in North America for a second weekend easily defending its box office crown against two new comedies that fought bitterly for the runnerup spot. Sony's Little Man narrowly edged out Universal's You, Me and Dupree opening in second and third, respectively, with less than $100,000 separating the two.

Disney shattered more box office records with its runaway smash Pirates which hauled in $62.3M in its second weekend in theaters, according to final studio figures, to boost its ten-day total to an eye-popping $258.4M. That's the largest ten-day start of any film in history and the fastest any movie has cracked the quarter-billion dollar mark beating the old records which were both set last summer by Star Wars Episode III. The final Jedi sequel collected $236.9M in its first ten days and surged to $255.6M in its eleventh day.

Pirates did suffer a sizable 54% drop from its record-breaking opening weekend, however a large decline was widely expected since it had already absorbed such a massive amount of business when it entered its sophomore frame. Second weekend declines for the summer's other big-budget tentpole pictures were larger including 56% for The Da Vinci Code, 59% for Superman Returns, and 67% for X-Men: The Last Stand. In just ten days, Dead Man's Chest has quickly become the top-grossing film of 2006 and now sits at number 34 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters ahead of Monsters, Inc. which grossed $255.9M in 2001.

The high seas adventure also enjoyed the third best second weekend gross ever trailing the $72.2M of 2004's Shrek 2 and the $71.4M of 2002's Spider-Man. Pirates is already the seventh biggest film ever for Disney and the fourth largest among live-action pics for the studio. The Mouse House also scored its 13th film to top the $200M mark which is the most of any Hollywood studio.Where can Captain Jack Sparrow sail to from here? The triple-century barrier should come crashing down by next weekend as the megablockbuster sequel continues on a trajectory that could see it loot $350-400M from the domestic market alone.

Opening in second place with $21.6M was Little Man starring Marlon and Shawn Wayans from director Keenan Ivory Wayans. The $64M Sony release averaged a stellar $8,533 from 2,533 theaters and tells the story of a diminutive crook who masquerades as a toddler in order to retrieve a stolen diamond. Teens and young adults made up the core crowd as studio data indicated that 59% of the audience was under the age of 25. Women slightly outnumbered the guys with 53% of the crowd. Reviews were mostly negative.

Little Man enjoyed an opening that was similar to that of the last effort by the Wayans brothers, White Chicks. That Sony comedy bowed on a Wednesday in June 2004 with a Friday-to-Sunday take of $19.7M as part of a $27.2M five-day launch on its way to $69.1M. The studio reported encouraging exit polls for Man with 85% marking it "excellent" or "very good." It is the third consecutive second place opening for Keenan Ivory Wayans after 2001's Scary Movie 2 and White Chicks which were also summer comedies.

Close behind with a $21.5M debut was Universal's new comedy You, Me and Dupree. The PG-13 film averaged a solid $6,875 from 3,131 theaters and stars Owen Wilson as a houseguest who crashes in the home of a newlywed couple played by Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon. The $54M film played mostly to young adults in their twenties and thirties and skewed more towards women. Studio research indicated that 58% of the audience was under the age of 30 and 58% was female. Reviews were not very favorable. Dupree opened below the levels of Wilson's previous hits like Starsky & Hutch which bowed to $28.1M in March 2004 and the $33.9M of Wedding Crashers which debuted one year ago this weekend.

While both new comedies opened with nearly identical weekend grosses, it was Little Man that clearly delivered the more impressive performance. Playing in 600 fewer theaters, the Wayans brothers attracted enough of an audience to still sell the same amount of tickets and generated a per-theater average that was 24% stronger than Dupree's. The Owen Wilson film however, cost $10M less to produce as it did not need to rely on costly special effects.

In its third battle against the forces of box office evil, the big-budget super hero flick Superman Returns fell to fourth place with $12.3M. Off a moderate 44%, the Warner Bros. pic lifted its cume to $164.3M after 19 days. The Man of Steel is well behind the $192.4M that War of the Worlds collected over the same period last year, but a bit ahead of Men in Black II's $158.1M from July 2002. However, those pricey pics posted stronger third weekend grosses of $15.2M and $14.6M, respectively. Superman Returns remains on a course to fly to $190-200M domestically which is less than what most in the industry were expecting from the Bryan Singer film.

Superman flew into over a dozen new countries around the world this weekend and grossed an estimated $38M from 36 markets to boost its international cume to $77M. In most territories, the comic book pic rocketed straight to number one, however in the United Kingdom it scored a solid number two bow behind the sophomore weekend of Pirates.

Despite competition from two new comedies, Meryl Streep held up well with her hit The Devil Wears Prada which grossed $10.4M in its third session. Down 31%, the Fox release has commanded an impressive $83.5M and is heading for the vicinity of $115M.

For the third straight weekend, the Disney/Pixar toon Cars enjoyed the smallest drop in the top ten and slipped only 27% to $7.8M. After its sixth weekend, the G-rated blockbuster has upped its cume to a sturdy $220M passing The Da Vinci Code to become the third highest grossing film of the year after the Pirates and X-Men sequels. Cars is running 5% behind the pace of Pixar's last film The Incredibles after the same amount of time, but is 4% ahead of the company's Monsters, Inc. Those pics ended up with $261.4M and $255.3M, respectively. Cars looks to have enough gas in its tank to be able to reach $250M. Barring any surprise megahits, that would give Disney the two biggest blockbusters of the summer season. Coincidentally, the studio also ruled the 2003 summer contest with the first Pirates and Pixar's Finding Nemo both crossing the $300M threshold.

Adam Sandler followed close behind in seventh with Click which fell 39% to $7.3M in its fourth frame. With $120M in the bank, the Sony release is still running a bit ahead of the studio's 2003 Sandler vehicle Anger Management which collected $115.3M at the same point on its way to $135.6M. Click should be able to reach $135-140M.

The Lake House starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock grossed $1.7M, off 42%, for a $49M total. The Warner Bros. romance should end with a respectable $53M. Paramount's Nacho Libre laughed up $1.6M, down 52%, putting its sum at $77.2M. Jack Black's wrestling comedy looks to go home with around $81M.

Warner Independent Pictures expanded its animated crime drama A Scanner Darkly from 17 to 216 theaters nationwide and hit the top ten with $1.3M. Richard Linklater's R-rated film averaged a healthy $5,863 per location and raised its cume to $1.9M. The Keanu Reeves-starrer will stay in roughly the same number of locations this coming weekend.

With a brutal heat wave hitting much of the country, audiences continued to flock to the hit global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth which slipped a scant 1% to $1.2M. Now in its eighth weekend of release, the Paramount Vantage title finished a hair outside of the top ten and has taken in a solid $17M.

Three films from the Universal Studios family fell from the top ten over the weekend. The racing sequel The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift dropped 54% to $1.2M in its fifth lap pushing its domestic total to $59.9M. The $75M actioner has grossed an additional $42M overseas and continues to open in new countries each week. In North America, look for a final take of $61M.

The Break-Up fell 45% to $888,135 giving the Vince Vaughn-Jennifer Aniston comedy $116.1M to date. The $52M production should end its relationship with theaters at $118M. Internationally, Break-Up has grossed $24.5M thus far with major European markets like the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy still to come between now and September. The Focus Features actioner Waist Deep tumbled 63% to $705,849 putting its cume at $20.7M. Little more is expected for the inexpensive film which might close with around $22M.

The top ten films grossed $147.8M which was off 3% from last year when Johnny Depp's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory debuted at number one with $56.2M; but up 10% from 2004 when Will Smith's I, Robot opened in the top spot with $52.2M.

Compared to projections, Little Man opened a bit higher than my $18M forecast while You, Me and Dupree debuted very close to my $22M prediction. Pirates came in only a few notches below my $66M projection.

For reviews of Dead Man's Chest, The Oh in Ohio, and A Scanner Darkly, plus a DVD review of She's the Man, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Lady in the Water, Clerks II, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and Monster House all open.

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

# Title Jul 14 - 16 Jul 7 - 9 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Pirates of the Caribbean: DMC $ 62,345,264 $ 135,634,554 -54.0 4,133 2 $ 15,085 $ 258,364,766 Buena Vista
2 Little Man 21,613,176 2,533 1 8,533 21,613,176 Sony
3 You, Me, and Dupree 21,525,560 3,131 1 6,875 21,525,560 Universal
4 Superman Returns 12,288,317 21,815,243 -43.7 3,765 3 3,264 164,316,103 Warner Bros.
5 The Devil Wears Prada 10,386,386 15,014,778 -30.8 2,810 3 3,696 83,490,860 Fox
6 Cars 7,840,985 10,734,082 -27.0 3,003 6 2,611 220,001,446 Buena Vista
7 Click 7,261,361 11,921,513 -39.1 3,296 4 2,203 119,963,211 Sony
8 The Lake House 1,665,485 2,854,457 -41.7 1,710 5 974 48,996,220 Warner Bros.
9 Nacho Libre 1,615,331 3,339,828 -51.6 1,501 5 1,076 77,233,137 Paramount
10 A Scanner Darkly 1,266,427 391,672 223.3 216 2 5,863 1,868,905 Warner Ind.
11 The Fast and the Furious 3 1,168,360 2,549,855 -54.2 1,140 5 1,025 59,855,120 Universal
12 An Inconvenient Truth 1,165,480 1,172,984 -0.6 570 8 2,045 17,033,435 Par. Vantage
13 The Da Vinci Code 900,448 1,321,762 -31.9 700 9 1,286 214,891,691 Sony
14 The Break-Up 888,135 1,621,345 -45.2 793 7 1,120 116,095,220 Universal
15 Waist Deep 705,849 1,901,151 -62.9 639 4 1,105 20,673,847 Focus
16 A Prairie Home Companion 683,858 851,490 -19.7 536 6 1,276 17,968,131 Picturehouse
17 Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties 610,802 1,027,020 -40.5 772 5 791 26,287,545 Fox
18 Over the Hedge 550,782 650,268 -15.3 538 9 1,024 150,898,980 Paramount
19 X-Men: The Last Stand 527,789 920,542 -42.7 592 8 892 232,329,982 Fox
20 Strangers With Candy 355,468 223,856 58.8 79 3 4,500 784,811 ThinkFilm
Top 5 $ 128,158,703 $ 195,120,170 -34.3
Top 10 147,808,292 207,386,806 -28.7
Top 20 155,365,263 214,972,977 -27.7
Top 20 vs. 2005 155,365,263 160,746,828 -3.3

Last Updated : July 17, 2006 at 4:45PM EDT

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