Weekend Box Office (August 11 - 13, 2006)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Despite a pair of newcomers close behind in its rearview mirror, Will Ferrell's hit comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby finished in first place for the second consecutive weekend to retain its North American box office trophy. The frame's biggest shocker came in second place with the stellar debut of the teen dance drama Step Up which flew past expectations to edge out Oliver Stone's high-profile 9/11 film World Trade Center which opened with solid results in third place. The new horror film Pulse launched in fifth place with mediocre results while Tim Allen's family film Zoom imploded with a disastrous bow in ninth place.

Talladega Nights held onto the number one spot with $22.1M in its second weekend of release, according to final studio figures, dropping an understandable 53%. The $73M Sony hit raced to a total of $90.3M after ten days of release and could find its way to the $140M mark.

Getting high marks in the runnerup spot was Buena Vista's Step Up which surprised the industry with a sizzling $20.7M opening weekend from 2,467 theaters. The PG-13 pic about a trained ballerina who joins forces with a tough street dancer averaged a sturdy $8,374 per location and was powered primarily by teenage girls and young women. The surprise muscle of Step Up played out much like the bow of another late-summer film targeting teen girls - 2000's Bring It On. That pic debuted at number one with $17.4M, spent two weeks at the top, and found its way to $68.4M followed by a pair of non-theatrical sequels keeping the franchise alive to this day.

Oliver Stone's 9/11 drama World Trade Center finished in third place grossing $18.7M over the weekend and $26.5M since debuting on Wednesday. Averaging a solid $6,334 from 2,957 theaters over the Friday-to-Sunday portion, the Paramount release stars Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena as cops buried underneath the rubble of the collapsed Twin Towers. Reviews were mostly positive for the $65M film and word-of-mouth so far seems positive. Studio research showed that 91% of those polled called the disaster drama "excellent" or "very good".

While young moviegoers were lining up for Step Up, World Trade Center skewed mostly to a mature adult audience with 65% of the crowd being over the age of 25. Females made up 55% of the audience. With good reviews, positive buzz, and almost no interesting films for adults opening in the coming weeks, World Trade Center could hold up well in the weeks ahead.

Paramount's animated comedy Barnyard dropped only 39% in its second weekend to $9.7M for fourth place. With $33.7M in the bank after ten days, the toon could find its way to about $60M. The PG-rated film's budget was under $50M.

The suspense thriller Pulse debuted in fifth with $8.2M from a launch in 2,323 sites. Averaging a mild $3,532 per location for The Weinstein Co., the PG-13 film made only a small dent in the overall box office.

Disney took in $7.2M with its summer tentpole Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest lifting its incredible total to a towering $392.4M. The Johnny Depp smash fell just 34% and now sits at number seven on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters just behind Spider-Man which hauled in $403.7M in 2002. Overseas, there's still no stopping Pirates which vaulted its international total to $463M pushing the global gross to a stunning $855M.

Universal's action remake Miami Vice suffered another steep drop falling 54% to $4.7M for a $55.3M total. The horror flick The Descent dropped 48% in its second weekend to $4.6M and pushed its ten-day tally to a decent $17.5M. The Lionsgate release should dig up $25-27M by the end of its run.

Sony's Tim Allen family pic Zoom crashed and burned in its debut grossing a measly $4.5M in its opening weekend. Playing in 2,501 theaters, the PG-rated film about an old super hero recruited to train a bunch of kids averaged an embarrassing $1,803 per venue. The studio's animated pic Monster House rounded out the top ten with $3.3M, off 46%, for a $63.7M cume to date.

Four more films were tossed right out of the top ten this weekend. Fox's high school comedy John Tucker Must Die fell 51% to $3M in its third frame. With a solid $35.8M, the low-budget teen hit should finish with around $40M. Fellow comedy You, Me and Dupree grossed $1.9M, down 47%, and has collected $70.8M to date. Universal's $54M pic is set to reach an impressive $74M.

Not-so-impressive results came from The Ant Bully with $1.9M and The Night Listener with $1.5M. Tumbling 52%, the Warner Bros. toon has taken in just $22.5M and will stumble to about $25M. Miramax's Robin Williams thriller has grossed a puny $6.4M for Miramax and could end up with only $8M.

With Hollywood's summer season of blockbusters coming to an end, plenty of activity was brewing over the weekend with limited release titles. ThinkFilm opened its critically-acclaimed indie Half Nelson in just two New York theaters but grossed a stellar $53,983. The R-rated drama about an inner city teacher with an addiction to crack averaged a potent $26,991 and expands to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. on August 25.

India's Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (Never Say Goodbye) set a new opening weekend record for Bollywood films in North America bowing to a stellar $1.4M from 64 locations for a potent $21,122 average. The three-hour-plus extravaganza from Yash Raj Films was shot in New York City and tells of two soul mates, married to other people, who tackle the notion of true love. The previous record for a Bollywood opening was $1M for 2001's Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham which was also directed by Karan Johar. KANK scored the best per-theater average of any film in the Top 40.

Sony Classics premiered the Brazilian drama The House of Sand in five locations in New York and Los Angeles and grossed $33,000 for a moderate $6,600 average. The distributor's teen pregnancy drama Quinceanera widened from eight to 27 theaters in its second weekend and grossed $134,457 giving the Sundance award winner a mild $4,979 average. Total to date stands at $273,975.

Indie darling Little Miss Sunshine witnessed another powerful expansion widening from 58 to 153 locations for a weekend gross of $2.6M and a sizzling average of $17,014. Fox Searchlight reported that audiences in the new cities are responding to the stellar word-of-mouth while theaters in existing markets are holding up remarkably well. The weekend decline among holdover theaters was only 17%. With $5.6M in the bank, look for Little Miss Sunshine to pop into the top ten next weekend when it expands into 600 playdates nationwide and remain there with a wider push into 1,500 locations the following frame. So far, the dysfunctional family comedy has performed even better than the distributor's spring indie hit Thank You for Smoking as well as its 2004 hit Garden State which was released at this same time and in similar fashion. Those films went on to gross $24.7M and $26.8M, respectively.

Paramount Vantage's global warming film An Inconvenient Truth became the third biggest documentary of all time over the weekend. Al Gore's success story took in $370,443 in its 12th weekend and lifted its cume to $21.9M surpassing the $21.6M of 2002's Oscar-winning doc Bowling for Columbine.

The top ten films grossed $103.8M which was up 4% from last year when Four Brothers debuted at number one with $21.2M; but down 13% from 2004 when Alien vs. Predator opened in the top spot with a robust $38.3M.

Compared to projections, Step Up powered way beyond my $8M forecast while World Trade Center opened very close to my $18M prediction. Pulse debuted on target with my $8M projection and Zoom bowed weaker than my $9M forecast.

For NEW reviews of World Trade Center and The House of Sand, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Snakes on a Plane, Accepted, Material Girls, and The Illusionist all open.

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

# Title Aug 11 - 13 Aug 4 - 6 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Talladega Nights $ 22,126,226 $ 47,042,215 -53.0 3,807 2 $ 5,812 $ 90,343,184 Sony
2 Step Up 20,659,573 2,467 1 8,374 20,659,573 Buena Vista
3 World Trade Center 18,730,762 2,957 1 6,334 26,531,879 Paramount
4 Barnyard 9,701,882 15,820,864 -38.7 3,311 2 2,930 33,717,980 Paramount
5 Pulse 8,203,822 2,323 1 3,532 8,203,822 Weinstein Co.
6 Pirates of the Caribbean: DMC 7,237,927 11,001,686 -34.2 2,941 6 2,461 392,431,781 Buena Vista
7 Miami Vice 4,706,430 10,227,880 -54.0 2,659 3 1,770 55,271,380 Universal
8 The Descent 4,616,462 8,911,330 -48.2 2,095 2 2,204 17,543,574 Lionsgate
9 Zoom 4,510,408 2,501 1 1,803 4,510,408 Sony
10 Monster House 3,285,771 6,058,649 -45.8 2,434 4 1,350 63,663,488 Sony
11 John Tucker Must Die 3,009,329 6,150,596 -51.1 2,213 3 1,360 35,760,791 Fox
12 Little Miss Sunshine 2,603,168 1,480,193 75.9 153 3 17,014 5,642,853 Fox Searchlight
13 You, Me, and Dupree 1,920,025 3,643,430 -47.3 1,352 5 1,420 70,827,285 Universal
14 The Ant Bully 1,872,420 3,892,443 -51.9 2,005 3 934 22,483,177 Warner Bros.
15 The Devil Wears Prada 1,869,313 3,046,881 -38.6 1,135 7 1,647 116,491,461 Fox
16 The Night Listener 1,476,322 3,554,134 -58.5 1,370 2 1,078 6,378,765 Miramax
17 Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna 1,351,786 64 1 21,122 1,351,786 Yash Raj Films
18 Superman Returns 1,242,461 2,158,227 -42.4 750 7 1,657 192,594,159 Warner Bros.
19 Little Man 1,057,884 2,541,166 -58.4 892 5 1,186 57,139,959 Sony
20 Scoop 1,015,479 1,811,050 -43.9 486 3 2,089 8,080,666 Focus
Top 5 $ 79,422,265 $ 93,003,975 -14.6
Top 10 103,779,263 116,303,227 -10.8
Top 20 121,197,450 134,419,288 -9.8
Top 20 vs. 2005 121,197,450 114,514,786 5.8

Last Updated : August 14, 2006 at 5:00PM EDT

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