Weekend Box Office (August 5 - 7, 2005)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Moonshine ruled the North American box office as The Dukes of Hazzard, the latest in a string of summer remakes rolled out by Hollywood studios, captured the number one spot in its opening weekend. No other new wide releases battled the General Lee this weekend, however the runaway hit documentary March of the Penguins did expand nationally and climbed up to its highest chart position yet. Overall, the marketplace was up slightly over a year ago with the Time Warner conglomerate enjoying a sensational frame claiming five of the top six films.

The Dukes of Hazzard ran off with the box office crown opening with $30.7M from an ultrawide 3,785 theaters, according to final studio figures. The PG-13 remake of the popular television series from the early 1980s averaged a solid $8,104 per location. Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar (Super Troopers), Dukes starred Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville as Georgia cousins Bo and Luke Duke and inserted singer-reality show star Jessica Simpson in the iconic role of Daisy Duke. Burt Reynolds, Willie Nelson, and Lynda Carter rounded out the cast in the $53M comedy.

The opening edged out other low-brow comedies aimed at young males such as Dodgeball ($30.1M), Anchorman ($28.4M), and Starsky & Hutch ($28.1M) which itself was a remake of a former TV hit. Critics panned Dukes and its steep 20% Friday-to-Saturday fall signals a rocky road ahead. Still, it was the third number one hit for Warner Bros. this summer following Batman Begins and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Each of those hits spent two weeks on top and are expected to cross the $200M mark.

After a week in the hot seat, Wedding Crashers slipped back to second place but continued to show strong legs. Off only 20%, the New Line smash took in $16M generating the best fourth-weekend gross of any film this year even beating Star Wars Episode III. The R-rated comedy has banked an amazing $143.6M in 24 days.

Following in third place was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which collected $11M, down 33%, boosting the total to $169.4M. Johnny Depp's second biggest career hit also grossed an additional $14M overseas boosting the international total to $67.3M and the worldwide tally to $236.7M.

Disney's super hero high school tale Sky High posted good grades in its second semester dropping 38% to $9M. After ten days, the PG-rated family adventure has grossed $32M and seems headed for $55-60M by graduation day.

Also holding up well in its second weekend was the Diane Lane-John Cusack date pic Must Love Dogs which collected $7.4M, off 43% from its debut. The Warner Bros. release has charmed up $26.2M in ten days and should find its way to about $45-50M.

March of the Penguins became the second biggest documentary of all time on Saturday helped by its nationwide expansion this weekend. The sleeper hit more than doubled its run widening from 778 to 1,867 theaters allowing it to gross $7.1M in its seventh weekend. The G-rated film averaged a healthy $3,812 and lifted its total to $26.4M surpassing Michael Moore's Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine to rank number two on the all-time documentary list. Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 still tops the list with a towering $119.2M. At its current pace, Penguins should at least surpass the $50M mark and could go higher depending on how it holds up in August.

Grosses for the big-budget action thriller Stealth plunged 55% in the second weekend to $5.9M. Sony's $100M+ gamble has taken in a mere $24.6M with a max of $39M on the horizon.

A trio of sci-fi flicks rounded out the top ten. Fox's Fantastic Four grossed $4.3M, off 38%, boosting its cume to $144M. War of the Worlds slipped 35% to $3.5M for a $224.6M total for Paramount. The Cruise vehicle now sits at number 47 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters behind Rush Hour 2 which hauled in $226.1M in 2001.

Taking in $3.1M was the DreamWorks thriller The Island which dropped 48% raising its sum to $30.9M. Overseas, where co-producer Warner Bros. is seeing stronger results, the clone pic captured $12.4M this weekend to lift the international cume to $42.3M from 20 markets.

With Hollywood's summer popcorn movies aging, two new arthouse films made their debuts in limited release to sensational results. Focus Features opened its Bill Murray pic Broken Flowers in 27 theaters and grossed $780,408 for a powerful $28,904 average. Directed by Jim Jarmusch (Ghost Dog, Coffee & Cigarettes), the R-rated film landed in the Top 20 and will expand to more markets throughout the month.

Sony Pictures Classics launched its futuristic thriller 2046 in only four sites and grossed $113,074 for a potent $28,268 average. The Wong Kar-Wai film was a favorite at Cannes and stars some of Hong Kong's biggest box office superstars.

ThinkFilm expanded its dirty joke doc The Aristocrats from four to nine locations and took in $239,478. The unrated film averaged $26,608 and has grossed $624,238. It invades about 75 theaters in the Top 20 markets this Friday.

Failing to clinch a spot in the top ten was Paramount's baseball comedy Bad News Bears which took in $2.7M in its third inning. Tumbling 51%, the Billy Bob Thornton pic has grossed only $28.9M to date. The $30M film should finish with $32-34M.

The top ten films grossed $98M which was up 5% from last year when Collateral opened at number one with $24.7M; but down 22% from 2003 when S.W.A.T. debuted in the top spot with $37.1M.

Compared to projections, The Dukes of Hazzard opened below my $34M forecast while March of the Penguins performed very close to my $6M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on whether Wedding Crashers will hit the $200M mark. In last week's survey, readers were asked why Stealth and The Island failed at the box office. Of 1,939 responses, 51% said Uninteresting Story, 27% thought Too Many Summer Action Films, and 22% selected Lack of Starpower.

For a review of Sky High visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Skeleton Key, Four Brothers, and The Great Raid all open.

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

# Title Aug 5 - 7 Jul 29 - 31 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Dukes of Hazzard $ 30,675,314 3,785 1 $ 8,104 $ 30,675,314 Warner Bros.
2 Wedding Crashers 16,035,177 20,023,159 -19.9 3,106 4 5,163 143,634,354 New Line
3 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 10,968,363 16,384,332 -33.1 3,702 4 2,963 169,426,750 Warner Bros.
4 Sky High 9,005,945 14,631,784 -38.4 2,912 2 3,093 32,009,202 Buena Vista
5 Must Love Dogs 7,357,405 12,855,321 -42.8 2,505 2 2,937 26,220,397 Warner Bros.
6 March of the Penguins 7,117,206 4,030,894 76.6 1,867 7 3,812 26,414,009 Warner Ind.
7 Stealth 5,923,794 13,251,545 -55.3 3,495 2 1,695 24,581,921 Sony
8 Fantastic Four 4,266,519 6,912,725 -38.3 2,339 5 1,824 143,990,723 Fox
9 War of the Worlds 3,548,295 5,481,239 -35.3 1,940 6 1,829 224,615,038 Paramount
10 The Island 3,117,486 5,963,223 -47.7 2,138 3 1,458 30,944,371 DreamWorks
11 Bad News Bears 2,746,321 5,634,919 -51.3 2,618 3 1,049 28,910,153 Paramount
12 Hustle and Flow 2,508,734 4,029,764 -37.7 1,016 3 2,469 18,676,961 Par. Classics
13 Batman Begins 1,822,445 2,448,225 -25.6 1,192 8 1,529 199,088,386 Warner Bros.
14 The Devil's Rejects 1,328,338 2,797,808 -52.5 1,157 3 1,148 15,410,827 Lions Gate
15 Mr. & Mrs. Smith 1,304,441 1,833,400 -28.9 833 9 1,566 180,959,870 Fox
16 Broken Flowers 780,408 27 1 28,904 780,408 Focus Features
17 Star Wars Episode III 423,249 573,122 -26.2 359 12 1,179 377,864,535 Fox
18 The Longest Yard 416,645 221,783 87.9 365 11 1,141 156,353,072 Paramount
19 Madagascar 406,050 565,142 -28.2 489 11 830 189,114,004 DreamWorks
20 Herbie: Fully Loaded 331,846 653,560 -49.2 454 7 731 63,517,121 Buena Vista
Top 5 $ 74,042,204 $ 77,146,141 -4.0
Top 10 98,015,504 105,169,141 -6.8
Top 20 110,083,981 119,148,163 -7.6
Top 20 vs. 2004 110,083,981 106,439,701 3.4

Last Updated : August 8, 2005 at 7:30PM EDT