Weekend Box Office (December 19 - 21, 2003)
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by Gitesh Pandya
THIS WEEKEND Reigning supreme at the North American box office was The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King which towered over the competition with a three-day opening weekend gross of $72.6M, according to final figures. Since its record Wednesday launch, the final installment of Peter Jackson's epic trilogy has amassed a colossal $124.1M. King's five-day bow was up a healthy 22% from the $102M debut of last year's The Two Towers.
Playing in 3,703 theaters with 7,205 prints, King averaged a spectacular $19,614 per theater The PG-13 film set a new December opening record besting The Two Towers and is set for a long and lucrative run as fans have no more LOTR movies on the horizon. King was a more dominant force in the marketplace than previous installments of the franchise accounting for a stellar 56% of all ticket sales in the Top Ten compared to 49% for Towers.
Opening far behind in second place was the new Julia Roberts film Mona Lisa Smile with $11.5M from 2,677 theaters. The Sony release, which also stars Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, averaged a good $4,306 per location. Smile's opening did not, however, reach the heights of some of Roberts' recent openings including $30.2M for America's Sweethearts, $20.1M for The Mexican, $28.1M for Erin Brockovich, and $19.1M for Stepmom.
Dropping two spots was the Jack Nicholson-Diane Keaton comedy Something's Gotta Give with $11.4M in its second weekend, off just 29%, for a ten-day cume of $33.4M. Following in fourth was Tom Cruise's epic The Last Samurai with $7.7M in its third frame, down 45%, giving the Warner Bros. release $59.5M in 17 days.
With Christmas nearing, moviegoers continued to flock to New Line's holiday comedy Elf. The Will Ferrell blockbuster enjoyed the best hold among wide releases and dipped just 8.6% to an estimated $5.5M lifting the cume to $154.8M. Fox's conjoined twins comedy Stuck On You fell 44% in its sophomore session to $5.2M and a ten-day tally of $16.9M.
Miramax's Bad Santa held up well slipping only 15% to $5.1M and a total of $42.9M. Eddie Murphy took eighth place with The Haunted Mansion which grossed $3.8M, off 36%, for a cume of $58.8M.
Dropping a moderate 40.6% in its sophomore frame was the teen comedy Love Don't Cost A Thing which brought in $3.7M and raised its ten-day sum to $11.2M. Universal's Honey dropped 44% to $2.7M and has taken in $23.6M to date.
Opening impressively in limited release was the Jennifer Connelly-Ben Kingsley drama House of Sand and Fog which grossed $45,572 from just two theaters in New York and Los Angeles. DreamWorks will expand the acclaimed pic to 425 theaters on Friday.
A pair of November titles fell out of the top ten in their fifth weekend of release. Universal's The Cat in the Hat dropped 45% to $2.3M and lifted its total to $93.9M. Budgeted at $109M, the Mike Myers kidpic looks to finish with about $100M. The Halle Berry thriller Gothika fell 55% to $1.2M and saw its cume climb to $56.1M. The $40M Warner Bros. release should find its way to around $60M.
The top ten films grossed $129.6M which was up 2% from last year when The Two Towers opened at number one with $62M; and up 8% from 2001 when The Fellowship of the Ring debuted on top with $47.2M.
Compared to projections, The Return of the King opened below my forecast of $80M while Mona Lisa Smile was very close to my $14M prediction.
For a review of The Return of the King, and NEW reviews of Cheaper by the Dozen and Peter Pan visit The Chief Report.
Be sure to check back on Monday night for final figures and again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Cold Mountain, Cheaper By The Dozen, Paycheck, and Peter Pan all open for Christmas.
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|#||Title||Dec. 19 - 21||Dec. 12 - 14||% Chg.||Theaters||Weeks||AVG||Cumulative||Distributor|
|1||LOTR: The Return of the King||$ 72,629,713||3,703||1||$ 19,614||$ 124,100,534||New Line|
|2||Mona Lisa Smile||11,528,498||2,677||1||4,306||11,528,498||Sony|
|3||Something's Gotta Give||11,416,793||16,064,723||-28.9||2,677||2||4,265||33,429,833||Sony|
|4||The Last Samurai||7,769,301||14,087,074||-44.8||2,938||3||2,644||59,487,166||Warner Bros.|
|6||Stuck on You||5,284,023||9,411,055||-43.9||3,007||2||1,757||16,983,906||Fox|
|8||The Haunted Mansion||3,928,641||6,139,023||-36.0||2,414||4||1,627||58,802,462||Buena Vista|
|9||Love Don't Cost A Thing||3,750,265||6,315,311||-40.6||1,844||2||2,034||11,192,300||Warner Bros.|
|11||The Cat in the Hat||2,311,890||4,166,590||-44.5||2,121||5||1,090||93,924,705||Universal|
|12||Master and Commander||1,500,514||2,381,479||-37.0||1,050||6||1,429||78,522,124||Fox|
|15||In America||505,989||275,435||83.7||146||4||3,466||1,422,980||Fox Searchlight|
|16||Brother Bear||451,406||655,405||-31.1||724||9||623||81,110,628||Buena Vista|
|18||Mystic River||305,385||397,403||-23.2||302||11||1,011||52,989,083||Warner Bros.|
|19||The Cooler||284,871||45,419||527.2||70||4||4,070||678,555||Lions Gate|
|20||Santa and the Snowman||277,744||263,536||5.4||45||60||6,172||3,890,886||Imax|
|Top 5||$ 108,846,940||$ 52,017,186||109.3|
|Top 20 vs. 2002||138,049,395||140,008,687||-1.4|
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Data source: Exhibitor Relations, EDI. Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated : December 22, 2003 at 7:00PM EST
Gitesh Pandya can be seen each Friday on "The Biz" airing at 12:30pm and 9:30pm ET on CNNfn.