Weekend Box Office (December 2 - 4, 2005)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The post-Thanksgiving box office was ruled mostly by leftovers as the films in the top ten remained relatively unchanged from last weekend, even as overall ticket sales fell by nearly half. For the third straight frame, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the most popular moviegoing choice collecting $19.9M, according to final studio figures, to push its cume to a stellar $229.3M after 17 days. The fourth film in the wildly successful wizard franchise already ranks as the year's third highest grosser behind Star Wars Episode III ($380.3M) and War of the Worlds ($234.3M).

Goblet fell a steep 64% from the turkey weekend which was a harder fall than Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone's 59% drop on the same weekend in 2001, but smaller than the 69% tumble seen by Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on the weekend following the Thanksgiving frame in 2002. After 17 days of release, Goblet is running 4% ahead of Sorcerer, 15% of Chamber, and 20% ahead of the last film in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which was a summer release.

Thanks to the new Potter pic, Warner Bros. extended its market share lead over Fox and every other studio reaching $1.26 billion in grosses this year, outdistancing its entire 2004 total. With school holidays coming up later this month, the new Hogwarts adventure could reach the $300M mark domestically. At present, the hit film sits at number 45 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters just ahead of the $229.1M of 1997's The Lost World.

Overseas, Goblet continued to dominate the multiplexes collecting a gargantuan $94.8M from over 11,600 prints in 57 markets. That sent the international cume soaring to $332.8M with the worldwide tally shooting to a colossal $562.1M and climbing. Key openings this weekend included $19.9M in France, $9.2M from Australia, and $6.4M in Korea. Leading overseas cumes include $64M from the United Kingdom, $44.6M from Germany, and $30.5M in nine days from Japan.

The weekend's only new wide release, the sci-fi actioner Aeon Flux, debuted in second place with $12.7M from 2,608 theaters. Averaging a respectable $4,855 per location, the PG-13 pic stars Charlize Theron as a 25th century assassin and is adapted from an animated series that aired on MTV a decade ago. According to studio research released by Paramount, Flux played to the typical sci-fi audience of adult men with males making up 58% of the crowd and 55% being age 25 and older.

The opening was nearly identical to the weak $12.8M bow of fellow ass-kicking superchick movie Elektra from January of this year and fell below the $13.3M opening for the summer action bomb Stealth. Paramount did not invest the time and expense of screening Aeon Flux for the press ahead of time. This made sense as reviews were expected to be poor with some like the New York Post hailing the action pic as "by far the year's worst movie." The budget was just over $60M.

After two weeks in the runnerup spot, Fox's Johnny Cash flick Walk the Line slipped a notch taking third with $9.5M. The drop of 50% was reasonable considering it was coming off of a holiday frame. After 17 days, the $28M Joaquin Phoenix film has tallied $68.3M and is on course to reach the century club.

Paramount's family comedy Yours, Mine & Ours followed with $8.3M in its second weekend dropping 53%. With $34.4M collected in 12 days, the $45M picture seems set to find its way to roughly $55M. New Line witnessed a surprisingly strong hold for its Ryan Reynolds comedy Just Friends which laughed up $5.6M in its second weekend. Off only 39% from the Thanksgiving frame, the PG-13 pic has grossed $21.1M in 12 days and could reach $35-40M overall.

Following with $4.6M and $4.4M, respectively, were the British period romance Pride & Prejudice and the musical Rent. Focus enjoyed the smallest decline of any film in the top ten as its Keira Knightley starrer dipped just 35% putting the cume at $22.6M. Sony's film adaptation of the popular Broadway show fell 56% collecting $23.7M in a dozen days. A final gross of about $35M could result.

Close behind with $4.4M was Disney's Chicken Little which tumbled 65% lifting its cume to $124.1M. The studio's top-grossing film of the year looks to reach $135-140M. Jennifer Aniston's Derailed fell 50% to $2.3M putting the total at $32.7M. A $38-40M final is likely for the top ten's only R-rated entry. Rounding out the top ten was the Lions Gate pic In the Mix with $1.9M, off 58%, for a measly $8.6M sum to date. The Usher vehicle should conclude with only $12-13M.

Dropping off the top ten list in only its second weekend was the caper comedy The Ice Harvest which grossed $1.7M falling 54%. With only $7.7M after 12 days, the Focus title should find its way to an underwhelming $11M. Still doing well in moderate national release is George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck which brought in $1.1M, down 44%, pushing the total to a solid $21M.

Meanwhile, Clooney's oil industry thriller Syriana enjoyed another explosive weekend in limited release taking in $521,420 from only nine theaters for a scorching average of $57,936. Cume to date is $1.3M. This Friday, Warner Bros. expands Syriana nationwide into about 1,750 theaters representing the frame's only new film for mature adult audiences. It will face Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia which is widely expected to end Harry Potter's three-week reign at the top when it roars into well over 3,000 theaters.

Debuting in one exclusive New York run was the ThinkFilm documentary The Boys of Baraka which grossed $9,705 over three days and $12,800 since its Wednesday bow. The film about four inner city boys from Baltimore sent to Kenya garnered strong reviews.

The top ten films grossed $73.6M which was down 3% from last year when National Treasure remained at number one for the third time with $17M; and down 14% from 2003 when The Last Samurai opened in the top spot with $24.3M.

Compared to projections, Aeon Flux opened below my $16M forecast.

For reviews of Harry Potter and The Matrix: Path of Neo video game, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe opens.

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

# Title Dec 2 - 4 Nov 25 - 27 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire $ 19,878,136 $ 54,727,138 -63.7 3,858 3 $ 5,152 $ 229,266,716 Warner Bros.
2 Aeon Flux 12,661,112 2,608 1 4,855 12,661,112 Paramount
3 Walk the Line 9,532,166 19,212,273 -50.4 3,160 3 3,017 68,298,646 Fox
4 Yours, Mine and Ours 8,258,472 17,461,108 -52.7 3,210 2 2,573 34,423,307 Paramount
5 Just Friends 5,601,132 9,191,331 -39.1 2,505 2 2,236 21,109,390 New Line
6 Pride & Prejudice 4,624,412 7,158,119 -35.4 1,327 5 3,485 22,632,716 Focus
7 Rent 4,441,633 10,016,021 -55.7 2,437 2 1,823 23,743,498 Sony
8 Chicken Little 4,406,418 12,568,113 -64.9 3,021 5 1,459 124,118,837 Buena Vista
9 Derailed 2,300,550 4,609,066 -50.1 1,702 5 1,352 32,711,697 Weinstein Co.
10 In the Mix 1,867,971 4,448,491 -58.0 1,608 2 1,162 8,625,445 Lions Gate
11 The Ice Harvest 1,712,528 3,740,799 -54.2 1,555 2 1,101 7,736,295 Focus
12 Zathura 1,211,177 3,541,291 -65.8 1,791 4 676 27,475,171 Sony
13 Jarhead 1,115,170 2,804,880 -60.2 1,246 5 895 61,122,435 Universal
14 Good Night, and Good Luck 1,053,466 1,882,058 -44.0 631 9 1,670 21,031,448 Warner Independent
15 Saw II 936,788 2,466,697 -62.0 926 6 1,012 85,743,451 Lions Gate
16 Get Rich or Die Tryin' 925,593 2,169,885 -57.3 906 4 1,022 29,821,986 Paramount
17 The Polar Express - Imax RE 838,029 1,221,349 -31.4 66 2 12,697 165,287,348 Warner Bros.
18 Capote 547,617 917,323 -40.3 247 10 2,217 9,827,054 Sony Classics
19 Syriana 521,420 374,502 39.2 9 2 57,936 1,271,259 Warner Bros.
20 First Descent 438,615 243 1 1,805 438,615 Universal
Top 5 $ 55,931,018 $ 113,984,653 -50.9
Top 10 73,572,002 143,132,459 -48.6
Top 20 82,872,405 160,288,549 -48.3
Top 20 vs. 2004 82,872,405 84,123,725 -1.5

Last Updated : December 5, 2005 at 11:45PM EST