Weekend Box Office (August 3 - 5, 2007)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Matt Damon set a new opening weekend record for the month of August with the top spot bow of The Bourne Ultimatum, the third installment in the actor's signature spy series. The frame's other new releases saw more modest openings while most holdovers held up well. The wide assortment of popular hits allowed the North American box office to soar to the highest grossing August weekend in history.

Racing past expectations, Universal's The Bourne Ultimatum scored a spectacular opening grossing $69.3M in its first weekend in theaters, according to final studio figures. Infiltrating 3,660 locations, the PG-13 film averaged a muscular $18,930 per venue and beat out the $52.5M bow of its predecessor The Bourne Supremacy by a healthy 32%. That action entry launched in July 2004 and went on to gross $176.1M. The new entry was also directed by Paul Greengrass and co-starred Julia Stiles and Joan Allen.

The eye-popping debut set a new benchmark for the month of August edging out previous record-holder Rush Hour 2 which bowed to $67.4M in 2001. That franchise's next installment Rush Hour 3 plans to exact revenge when it opens this Friday gunning for the number one spot. Ultimatum also generated the second largest opening weekend in studio history for Universal trailing only The Lost World which collected $72.1M over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of its holiday debut in May 1997 during what was then the biggest opening weekend of all time.

Matt Damon proved once again how popular and relevant his Jason Bourne character is to today's audiences. Ultimatum also earned the best reviews of any action picture this year so even though it was the summer's eleventh sequel and fifth threequel, the film still played out as an event picture for movie fans. The opening was even bigger than any debut in the James Bond or Mission: Impossible franchises. Openings for last year's newest chapters for those spy sagas were $47.7M for Mission: Impossible III in May and $40.8M for November's Casino Royale.

The Bourne Ultimatum became the fourth film in five weeks to open near or above the $70M mark following Transformers, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and The Simpsons Movie. The string of big hits set the July box office ablaze and has now spilled over into the final month of summer which should continue the fireworks. Plus most films have been holding up well over the last few weeks. Of the 37 holdover cases in the top ten during the last five weekends, only four have witnessed declines of more than 50%. By comparison, nine had such drops over the same five-week period a year ago.

Last weekend's top film The Simpsons Movie was the only pic in the top ten to take a big tumble dropping 66% in its sophomore weekend to finish in second place with $25.1M. That gave the Fox blockbuster a robust total of $128.1M in only ten days of release. The $75M production might find its way to the neighborhood of $190M domestically. Overseas, Comic Book Guy and pals grossed another $47.3M shooting the international total to $187M from 75 territories for a sensational global gross of $315M and counting.

Disney launched its canine pic Underdog in third place with a respectable opening of $11.6M from 3,013 theaters. The PG-rated family film averaged a decent $3,845 per venue and tried to take advantage of a marketplace lacking choices for younger kids.

Adam Sandler's latest comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry dropped 45% in its third weekend to $10.6M for Universal. The musical Hairspray, also in its third frame, dipped 42% to $9.2M for New Line. Totals to date stand at $91.8M and $78.9M, respectively.

The megablockbuster Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix grossed $9.5M, off 46%, boosting the total to $261M. That puts the fifth Hogwarts tale at number 37 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters after 2004's The Incredibles which banked $261.4M. Overseas, Phoenix posted $25.4M to lift the international tally to a towering $510M. With a worldwide gross of $771M, the latest wizard flick is now the third biggest global blockbuster of 2007 after Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ($952M) and Spider-Man 3 ($889M).

The Catherine Zeta-Jones drama No Reservations followed in seventh place with $6.6M in its sophomore session. Down a reasonable 44%, the Warner Bros. release has cooked up $24.2M in ten days and looks headed for a respectable $45M final.

With a one-way ticket to the triple-century club, Transformers took in $6M, down 48%, to lift its stellar cume to $296.4M. The Michael Bay smash now sits at number 26 on the all-time domestic list after Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl which grossed $305.4M in 2003..

For the second straight weekend, a pair of flops aimed at teens opened in the number nine and ten spots with averages of less than $3,000. Paramount's Andy Samberg comedy Hot Rod debuted to $5.3M from 2,607 theaters for a dismal $2,037 average. Lionsgate grossed $4.2M for its new preteen pic Bratz resulting in a mild $2,789 average from 1,509 playdates.

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony teamed up for the biopic El Cantante which debuted well in a limited national bow with $3.2M from 542 theaters for a solid $5,907 average. The Picturehouse release about the life of Salsa pioneer Hector Lavoe earned lackluster reviews from critics. Receiving better notices was the period drama Becoming Jane which bowed in only 100 theaters to $972,066 for a strong $9,720 average. Starring Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen, the Miramax title expands to more markets in the weeks ahead.

Four films fell from the top ten over the weekend. The animated comedy Ratatouille from Disney and Pixar dropped by 47% in its sixth frame to $4M boosting the cume to $188.2M. Though loved by critics, the rodent picture has not been living up to Pixar standards and should end its domestic run right around the $200M mark making it the company's lowest-grossing hit since 1998's A Bug's Life which took in $162.8M.

Fox's action sequel Live Free or Die Hard shot up $2.1M, tumbling 62%, and put its total at $130.2M. A domestic final of about $135M seems likely while the pic's global gross of $309M will continue to climb rapidly over the course of the summer.

Also suffering sharp declines were the sophomores I Know Who Killed Me and Who's Your Caddy? which collected $1.2M and $1.1M, respectively. Lindsay Lohan's latest box office underachiever crumbled 67% and has taken in just $6.2M in ten days with a pathetic $8M final likely. The golf comedy fell 60% to a ten-day cume of only $4.8M and looks to end its run with a measly $7M.

The top ten films grossed $157.5M which was up a solid 35% from last year when Talladega Nights opened at number one with $47M; and up a remarkable 61% from 2005 when The Dukes of Hazzard debuted in the top spot with $30.7M.

Compared to projections, The Bourne Ultimatum soared higher than my $55M forecast while Underdog was very close to my $11M prediction. Hot Rod bowed to half of my $10M projection, while both Bratz and El Cantante were on target with my respective forecasts of $5M and $3M.

For a NEW DVD review of Disturbia, and reviews of The Bourne Ultimatum and Hot Rod, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Rush Hour 3, Daddy Day Camp, Stardust, and Skinwalkers all open.

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

# Title Aug 3 - 5 Jul 27 - 29 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Bourne Ultimatum $ 69,283,690 3,660 1 $ 18,930 69,283,690 Universal
2 The Simpsons Movie 25,110,873 74,036,787 -66.1 3,926 2 6,396 128,060,578 Fox
3 Underdog 11,585,121 3,013 1 3,845 11,585,121 Buena Vista
4 I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry 10,626,345 19,132,965 -44.5 3,290 3 3,230 91,795,450 Universal
5 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 9,522,220 17,733,085 -46.3 3,125 4 3,047 261,027,397 Warner Bros.
6 Hairspray 9,225,378 15,899,890 -42.0 3,115 3 2,962 78,854,798 New Line
7 No Reservations 6,588,375 11,704,357 -43.7 2,425 2 2,717 24,175,203 Warner Bros.
8 Transformers 6,021,472 11,643,129 -48.3 2,419 5 2,489 296,379,328 Paramount
9 Hot Rod 5,310,711 2,607 1 2,037 5,310,711 Paramount
10 Bratz 4,208,455 1,509 1 2,789 4,208,455 Lionsgate
11 Ratatouille 3,987,800 7,455,594 -46.5 1,940 6 2,056 188,246,213 Buena Vista
12 El Cantante 3,202,035 542 1 5,908 3,202,035 Picturehouse
13 Live Free or Die Hard 2,132,768 5,618,728 -62.0 1,422 6 1,500 130,178,275 Fox
14 I Know Who Killed Me 1,165,378 3,506,291 -66.8 1,320 2 883 6,231,700 Sony
15 Who's Your Caddy 1,092,324 2,756,661 -60.4 962 2 1,135 4,803,661 MGM
16 Becoming Jane 972,066 100 1 9,721 972,066 Miramax
17 Talk to Me 674,089 801,709 -15.9 187 4 3,605 2,840,675 Focus
18 Rescue Dawn 560,903 1,650,282 -66.0 505 5 1,111 4,218,459 MGM
19 Knocked Up 503,730 1,227,605 -59.0 392 10 1,285 146,284,175 Universal
20 Sicko 503,702 1,173,740 -57.1 349 7 1,443 22,640,294 Lionsgate
Top 5 $ 126,128,249 $ 138,507,084 -8.9
Top 10 157,482,640 169,487,487 -7.1
Top 20 172,277,435 180,279,823 -4.4
Top 20 vs. 2006 172,277,435 134,419,288 28.2

Last Updated: August 6, 2007 at 7:00PM ET

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