Weekend Box Office (July 28 - 30, 2006)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Detectives Crockett and Tubbs shot their way to number one in North America with the cop thriller Miami Vice which finally managed to knock the megablockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest out of the top spot. The new teen comedy John Tucker Must Die debuted well but the animated entry The Ant Bully got squashed in its opening weekend. Overall, the box office saw a summer slowdown as the top ten films attracted the weakest sales since early May.

Universal hit the top of the charts with its big-budget actioner Miami Vice which opened with $25.7M, according to final studio figures. Starring Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell as the famous South Florida cops from the hit 1980s television series, the R-rated film averaged a strong $8,515 from 3,021 theaters. The debut was in line with the opening of director Michael Mann's last film Collateral which was also an R-rated actioner and bowed to $24.7M in August 2004. That film, which starred Tom Cruise and Foxx, eventually squeaked past the $100M mark domestically. The studio reported that the audience for Miami Vice was older, multicultural, and evenly split between men and women. Studio research showed that a high 62% of the crowd was age 30 and older, 51% was male, and 52% was non-white. Reviews were mixed for the $135M production.

After three weeks of ruling the box office, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest dropped to second place but still posted strong results grossing $20.6M. The Disney smash dropped only 42% and propelled its cume to a staggering $358.5M after just 24 days. More records were looted by Captain Jack Sparrow. Chest became the fastest film in history to sail past the $350M mark doing so on Saturday in only 23 days. Shrek 2 held the record previously with 26 days in 2004. The Pirates sequel also stands as the top-grossing movie ever for its studio surpassing the $339.7M of 2003's Finding Nemo.

The middle film in the swashbuckling adventure trilogy vaulted to number 11 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters right behind the $370.3M of 2004's The Passion of the Christ. Pirates has also put an end to the industry's seven-year streak of the top-grossing summer film coming out of the month of May. Johnny Depp and friends have completely dominated the moviegoing world this month as no other film since has opened north of $30M. The last time the month of July saw only one $30M+ opener was ten years ago when Independence Day ruled the mid-summer box office in 1996. Dead Man's Chest looks to smash the $400M mark in the weeks ahead.

Teenagers pushed the high school comedy John Tucker Must Die into the number three spot with opening of $14.3M. Bowing in 2,560 theaters, the PG-13 film about a group of young women who get revenge on the guy secretly dating all of them averaged a solid $5,577 per site. However, sales plunged a disturbing 24% on Saturday from a strong Friday turnout indicating there could be trouble ahead. Still, with no pricey stars, Tucker should become a nice little hit for Fox. The studio's divide-and-conquer marketing approach seems to have worked. Television spots aimed at females focused on the revenge-on-a-cheating-boy angle while those targeting males showed off the title character's ability to juggle three chicks.

Sony's digital toon Monster House dropped 48% in its second weekend to $11.7M and raised its total to $44M after ten days. The $75M film looks to find its way to a relatively good $65-70M.

Warner Bros. stumbled with the opening of its rival kid toon The Ant Bully which finished the weekend in fifth place with $8.4M. Playing in 3,050 locations, the PG-rated adventure about a boy who enters the world of insects averaged a weak $2,765 per location. Big-time Hollywood stars Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, and Nicolas Cage provided the voices, but audiences were not swayed. Bully's opening weekend couldn't even beat the second weekend of Monster House. The kidpic market will get even more crowded on Friday when Paramount launches its own animated film Barnyard targeting the exact same family audience once again.

M. Night Shyamalan's bedtime story Lady in the Water followed its weak opening weekend with a steep 61% crash to $7.1M and gave Warner Bros. a feeble $32.2M in ten days. By comparison, ten-day totals for the filmmaker's last movies have been $85.6M for 2004's The Village and $117.7M for 2002's Signs. Lady, which is not even in the same ballpark, has not excited audiences and it could stumble to a final tally of about $45M making its entire total smaller than the opening weekend of his last film.

It's been a difficult summer for Warners. First, its costly ocean liner actioner Poseidon flopped grossing $100M less than its production budget. Then Superman Returns, the most expensive movie ever, did not live up to expectations. Now the studio is suffering a double blow with Lady and Ant Bully both being ignored by moviegoers. Of course, overseas box office and worldwide home video will add more revenue, but expensive marketing campaigns will make it hard for these films to become moneymaking ventures. The studio's other summer film The Lake House has enjoyed a respectable run though, grossing $51M.

Universal's comedy You, Me and Dupree fell 44% to $7.1M in its third weekend and boosted its 17-day cume to a solid $59.1M. Sony's Wayans brothers comedy Little Man placed eighth with $5.1M, down 54%, and raised its sum to a decent $50.2M. Meryl Streep followed with the sleeper hit of the summer, The Devil Wears Prada, which grossed $4.7M. Off only 37%, the Fox hit pushed its total to $106.6M.

Fox grabbed $4.1M with its super hero comedy My Super Ex-Girlfriend which tumbled 52% in its second weekend. With a weak $16.8M in ten days, the Uma Thurman-Luke Wilson comedy should find its way to only $25M.

Opening in platform release to sensational results was Fox Searchlight's indie comedy Little Miss Sunshine which bowed to $370,782 from only seven theaters for an eye-popping $52,968 average. Since its Wednesday launch in New York and Los Angeles, the R-rated comedy starring Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, and Alan Arkin has grossed $498,796. Sunshine was the hottest film at this year's Sundance Film Festival and the distrib is now looking to turn it into a strong word-of-mouth hit for moviegoers numbed by all the mindless popcorn films of the summer. Reviews were outstanding and the road comedy will continue to expand in the weeks ahead. The distributor plans to widen to ten cities and about 60 theaters this Friday, 175 playdates the following weekend, and a full national release in over 600 sites on August 18.

Also debuting this weekend was Woody Allen's latest film Scoop with $3M from 538 locations for a good $5,663 average. The Focus release stars Scarlett Johannson and Hugh Jackman and earned mixed reviews from critics.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Crumbling 60% to $4M in its sophomore session, Kevin Smith's Clerks II rounded out the top ten and put its ten-day cume at $18.5M. The inexpensive $5M production should continue to fade fast, but looks to end with around $25M making it a nice little moneymaker for MGM and The Weinstein Company. Smith's last summer film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back dropped a hefty 53% in its second weekend in 2001 although the Labor Day holiday frame helped to cushion the blow.

Superman Returns fell 49% to $3.8M in its fifth mission and reached a cume of $185.8M. After 33 days of release last summer, Warner Bros. collected a similar $183.1M with its other super hero revival Batman Begins. However, the Caped Crusader posted a stronger $6M frame, ranked higher with a fifth place finish, and was enjoying smaller weekly declines on its way to $205.3M. With a reported production budget north of $240M, Superman Returns is on a course to end its domestic run with roughly $195M and will need some sort of special re-release in order to cross the double-century mark.

Disney watched Pixar's durable toon hit Cars become the second highest-grossing film of the year this weekend. The G-rated smash fell 47% to $2.6M boosting its cume to $234.8M surpassing the third X-Men flick. Add in the recent Pirates sequel and the Mouse House can now claim the two biggest box office hits of 2006 with no other films in the near future looking to get in their way. Cars could cross the finish line with about $242M.

Al Gore's global warming hit An Inconvenient Truth became only the fourth documentary in box office history to cross the $20M mark this weekend. The Paramount Vantage title took in $742,168 in its tenth frame, off 26%, to lift its cume to $20.1M. The only docs to score better have been Fahrenheit 9/11 ($119.2M), March of the Penguins ($77.4M), and Bowling for Columbine ($21.6M).

The top ten films grossed $108.8M which was up a scant 4% from last year when Wedding Crashers climbed to number one in its third weekend with $20M; but down 21% from 2004 when The Village opened in the top spot with $50.7M.

Compared to projections, Miami Vice opened much lower than my $38M forecast. John Tucker Must Die bowed ahead of my $9M prediction and The Ant Bully was weaker than my $14M projection.

For NEW reviews of Miami Vice and John Tucker Must Die, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Talladega Nights, The Descent, Barnyard, and The Night Listener all open.

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

# Title Jul 28 - 30 Jul 21 - 23 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Miami Vice $ 25,723,815 3,021 1 $ 8,515 $ 25,723,815 Universal
2 Pirates of the Caribbean: DMC 20,606,578 35,215,201 -41.5 3,834 4 5,375 358,485,761 Buena Vista
3 John Tucker Must Die 14,276,534 2,560 1 5,577 14,276,534 Fox
4 Monster House 11,663,308 22,217,226 -47.5 3,553 2 3,283 44,035,290 Sony
5 The Ant Bully 8,432,465 3,050 1 2,765 8,432,465 Warner Bros.
6 Lady in the Water 7,144,275 18,044,396 -60.4 3,235 2 2,208 32,203,657 Warner Bros.
7 You, Me, and Dupree 7,106,280 12,767,590 -44.3 2,820 3 2,520 59,119,020 Universal
8 Little Man 5,124,245 11,025,108 -53.5 2,175 3 2,356 50,187,262 Sony
9 The Devil Wears Prada 4,673,346 7,361,991 -36.5 1,778 5 2,628 106,561,887 Fox
10 My Super Ex-Girlfriend 4,096,933 8,603,460 -52.4 2,702 2 1,516 16,751,286 Fox
11 Clerks II 4,008,335 10,061,132 -60.2 2,150 2 1,864 18,536,759 MGM
12 Superman Returns 3,788,228 7,375,213 -48.6 2,005 5 1,889 185,794,683 Warner Bros.
13 Scoop 3,046,924 538 1 5,663 3,046,924 Focus
14 Cars 2,620,756 4,947,198 -47.0 1,556 8 1,684 234,802,642 Buena Vista
15 Click 1,922,308 4,035,847 -52.4 1,326 6 1,450 132,430,248 Sony
16 An Inconvenient Truth 742,168 1,000,372 -25.8 346 10 2,145 20,149,280 Par. Vantage
17 Over the Hedge 600,497 361,802 66.0 443 11 1,356 152,543,839 DreamWorks
18 A Scanner Darkly 473,642 678,030 -30.1 263 3 1,801 4,091,960 Warner Ind.
19 Little Miss Sunshine 370,782 7 1 52,969 498,796 Fox Searchlight
20 Deep Sea 3-D 334,735 365,413 -8.4 30 22 11,158 15,521,710 Warner Bros.
Top 5 $ 80,702,700 $ 99,269,521 -18.7
Top 10 108,847,779 137,618,515 -20.9
Top 20 126,756,154 146,482,090 -13.5
Top 20 vs. 2005 126,756,154 119,148,163 6.4

Last Updated : July 31, 2006 at 6:15PM EDT

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