Weekend Box Office (July 22 - 24, 2005)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Despite a flood of new film choices, moviegoers spent their time and money catching up on existing hits as the top three films remained unchanged from last weekend. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory held onto the number one spot, Wedding Crashers enjoyed an exceptional hold in second place, and Fantastic Four stayed put in third. The new futuristic sci-fi thriller The Island was a total disaster failing to find paying customers while the sports comedy Bad News Bears scored a mild opening. The urban drama Hustle & Flow and the horror sequel The Devil's Rejects each connected with their respective audiences while the documentary March of the Penguins made a triumphant appearance in the top ten despite a more limited release.

Still leading the way for the second straight weekend was Johnny Depp in Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which grossed $28.3M, according to final studio figures. The Warner Bros. release dropped an understandable 50% from its powerful debut and pushed its ten-day total to a super sweet $114.1M. Produced for $150M, Charlie might find its way to the $200M mark in North America.

Comedy fans continued to line up for the New Line hit Wedding Crashers which slipped an amazingly low 24% in its second weekend to $25.7M. After ten days, the R-rated Owen Wilson-Vince Vaughn pic has grossed an astounding $80.4M. The $40M film seems set to soar to at least $160M and could fly much higher if its strong legs keep holding up. Very positive word-of-mouth and a lack of direct competition is working wonders for Crashers which is set to challenge Hitch's $177.6M to become the year's biggest comedy.

In its third weekend, Fox's Fantastic Four held steady at number three with $12.6M. Off a reasonable 45%, the super hero pic has clobbered $122.9M and should find its way to $155-160M.

Director Michael Bay suffered the worst bomb of his career with the surprisingly low debut of the sci-fi action film The Island which bowed in fourth with only $12.4M. Playing in 3,122 theaters, the PG-13 film about renegade clones from the future averaged a pitiful $3,975 per site. The opening weekend was even worse than those for other recent action duds like XXX: State of the Union ($12.7M) and Elektra ($12.8M). Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson starred in the pricey $125M gamble which was co-produced by DreamWorks and Warner Bros. It was Bay's first outing without superproducer Jerry Bruckheimer at his side.

Many factors may have contributed to The Island's horrendous showing at the box office. The film lacked any major stars known for pulling in paying audiences and the story was not unique and interesting enough to energize moviegoers. Plus, The Island followed a string of hit action films this summer so demand for yet another effects-driven adventure pic was not too high. Reviews were not very positive either. According to studio research, no one group stood out as a dominant audience segment. Males made up 51% of the crowd and 52% were age 25 or older.

Also posting a mild opening, but costing a fraction of the price to produce, was Paramount's Bad News Bears which debuted to $11.4M for fifth place. The Billy Bob Thornton baseball comedy's batting average reached only $3,576 from 3,183 locations. Directed by Richard Linklater, the PG-13 film played to teens and adults and was budgeted at $30M.

Meanwhile, the studio's War of the Worlds became only the second film of the year to cross the double century mark with a fourth weekend take of $8.9M. Off 42%, the Tom Cruise sci-fi flick has pushed its total to $208.4M. In another week, War should surpass the $215.4M of Mission: Impossible 2 to become the actor's highest grossing film ever.

Arthouse division Paramount Classics followed in seventh with a strong opening for Hustle & Flow which grossed $8M from only 1,013 theaters for a solid $7,915 average. The R-rated tale of a Memphis pimp trying to make it in the hip hop music industry won the audience award at Sundance this year and rode a wave of strong buzz and positive reviews into its theatrical release. Studio research showed that 64% of the audience was 25 or older and 60% was female. The $8M film was produced by John Singleton and drew a predominantly African-American crowd.

Targeting a different crowd was the horror sequel The Devil's Rejects which landed in eighth with $7.1M. Lions Gate launched the brutal fright flick in 1,757 sites and averaged a decent $4,022. Written and directed by Rob Zombie, Rejects was the followup to the cult hit House of 1,000 Corpses which debuted in April 2003 to $3.4M and a $5,816 average before reaching $12.6M. A dramatic 24% drop in sales on Saturday indicates that the loyal fan following rushed out on opening day which could leave little fuel in the tank for the coming weeks.

Enjoying a sturdy hold was Batman Begins with $4.7M, down only 22%, for a cume to date of $191.1M. The Warner Bros. hit is now on course to break the $200M mark domestically.

Poking its head into the top ten in its fifth week was the documentary March of the Penguins which grossed $4.4M. The G-rated hit expanded from 132 to 695 theaters nationwide and averaged a cool $6,306 per location. Warner Independent has been following a slow and successful expansion which is paying off handsomely as the cume has reached $9.3M already with another widening to 1,200 theaters set for August 5.

With all the new faces, half of last weekend's top ten fell from the elite list. Fox's super couple Mr. & Mrs. Smith still held up well with $3.7M, down only 29%, for a total to date of $174.6M. The $110M action blockbuster should conclude its domestic run with around $185M which would mark career highs for both Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Disney's remake Herbie: Fully Loaded fell 44% to $2M for a cume of $60.3M. Look for a final of about $64M. Buena Vista's thriller Dark Water continued to slump tumbling 61% in its third frame to $1.8M. The Jennifer Connelly misfire has taken in $23M in 17 days and should finish with roughly $26M. Sony's entry into the summer remake game, the $80M Nicole Kidman-Will Ferrell comedy Bewitched, has grossed just $59.6M to date and is not likely to collect much more. That puts it in the same company as Kidman's The Stepford Wives which brought in $59.5M last summer.

DreamWorks grossed $1.2M for its animated blockbuster Madagascar in its ninth outing. Down 48%, the zoo animal pic has captured $186.7M thus far and is set to end with approximately $189M making it the studio's biggest non-ogre toon.

The top ten films grossed $123.5M which was down 9% from last year when The Bourne Supremacy opened at number one with $52.5M; and down 14% from 2003 when Spy Kids 3-D debuted in the top spot with $33.4M.

Compared to projections, The Island opened with less than half of my $30M forecast while Bad News Bears came in a few notches below my $16M prediction. The Devil's Rejects debuted close to my $8M projection and Hustle & Flow was stronger than my $5M forecast.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on which summer super hero film you would most want to see a sequel to - Batman Begins or Fantastic Four. In last week's survey, readers were asked if The Island would open with at least $30M. Of 1,388 responses, 74% said Yes while 26% correctly guessed No.

For NEW reviews of The Island and Bad News Bears visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Stealth, Sky High, and Must Love Dogs all open.

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

# Title Jul 22 - 24 Jul 15 - 17 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory $ 28,253,338 $ 56,178,450 -49.7 3,790 2 $ 7,455 $ 114,058,892 Warner Bros.
2 Wedding Crashers 25,665,065 33,900,720 -24.3 2,925 2 8,774 80,366,504 New Line
3 Fantastic Four 12,646,871 22,783,303 -44.5 3,449 3 3,667 122,931,780 Fox
4 The Island 12,409,070 3,122 1 3,975 12,409,070 DreamWorks
5 Bad News Bears 11,382,472 3,183 1 3,576 11,382,472 Paramount
6 War of the Worlds 8,925,605 15,244,749 -41.5 3,265 4 2,734 208,421,643 Paramount
7 Hustle and Flow 8,017,808 1,013 1 7,915 8,017,808 Par. Classics
8 The Devil's Rejects 7,067,335 1,757 1 4,022 7,067,335 Lions Gate
9 Batman Begins 4,727,469 6,035,300 -21.7 2,275 6 2,078 191,105,194 Warner Bros.
10 March of the Penguins 4,382,340 1,515,059 189.3 695 5 6,306 9,306,689 Warner Ind.
11 Mr. & Mrs. Smith 3,701,842 5,234,822 -29.3 1,916 7 1,932 174,644,345 Fox
12 Herbie: Fully Loaded 2,020,307 3,619,074 -44.2 1,953 5 1,034 60,327,540 Buena Vista
13 Dark Water 1,795,925 4,609,754 -61.0 1,772 3 1,014 23,007,343 Buena Vista
14 Madagascar 1,199,205 2,308,169 -48.0 1,101 9 1,089 186,730,236 DreamWorks
15 Star Wars Episode III 1,046,982 1,703,393 -38.5 667 10 1,570 375,876,648 Fox
16 Bewitched 1,012,771 2,556,432 -60.4 1,026 5 987 59,613,308 Sony
17 Cinderella Man 507,870 982,305 -48.3 418 8 1,215 59,884,160 Universal
18 Rebound 450,002 1,293,760 -65.2 450 4 1,000 15,619,953 Fox
19 The Longest Yard 414,906 951,318 -56.4 393 9 1,056 155,363,469 Paramount
20 Me and You and Everyone We Know 340,728 357,847 -4.8 136 6 2,505 1,924,460 IFC Films
Top 5 $ 90,356,816 $ 134,142,522 -32.6
Top 10 123,477,373 152,470,773 -19.0
Top 20 135,967,911 160,746,828 -15.4
Top 20 vs. 2004 135,967,911 147,816,383 -8.0

Last Updated : July 25, 2005 at 9:30PM EDT