By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekend Box Office
The Incredibles will fall to two films this weekend, one of which is another Disney release, which kind of makes you shake your head. After all, Disney does have to protect all of its assets and if it can get National Treasure off to a $30 million start and the film has the playability that its testing numbers suggest (not to mention the critics who obsessively led their reviews by pointing out how commercial the film was), that is a win for the company. On the other hand, the third weekend for a Pixar/Disney film taking a 53% drop seems unheard of…
Or is it?
Monsters, Inc., remarkably enough, took a 50% drop in its third weekend back in 2001 and was roughly $15 million behind where The Incredibles are going to be by the end of their its weekend. M.I. ended up bouncing back on Thanksgiving weekend and after that, adding about 25% to its total for a $256 million domestic run… right behind Potter 2 and The Grinch. Project that out for The Incredibles and you are looking at a domestic cume of between $265 million and $270 million for what would be the second best November total in history.
For National Treasure, they are probably looking at a domestic total somewhere between Elf and 101 Dalmatians. (A lump of coal in the stocking for Eisner bashers everywhere.)
The Spongebob Squarepants Movie is looking like a slightly more muscular version of The Rugrats Movie, which crawled over the $100 million mark in 1998. Spongebob should be able to make that number without hocking any crabby patties. That would make it the first film from Paramount this year to cross the $87 million mark domestically and only the third over $60 million.
Of course, Paramount has its big gun, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, coming up in just a few weeks. It will be fascinating to see whether the studio makes as strong an effort to interest teens and college-age kids to come out for Snicket, which appears so far to be infinitely more complex and sophisticated than our absorbent yellow friend.
The Polar Express is off 41% for Friday… a good indicator that it will never get close to the $100 million mark domestically… though if you add in IMAX, which is going great guns, it surely will. But with the studio having to wait an entire year to reap the benefits of the DVD marketplace on this seasonal wannabe classic, the interest on the shortfall will be into eight figues all by itself.
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason went wide this weekend and looks like it is going to burn out quickly. Universal’s Nikki Rocco is a smart cookie, but the $8.7 million from the 530 screen release last weekend, it seems to me, combined with this weekend’s $10 million or so, seems about what they should have done in one big weekend opening. Audiences clearly are not going to be as kind to this sequel as they were to the first film. I guess there are many roads to $50 million… if you expected this to do about $50 million. And that may well be the case and Ms. Rocco’s strategy may have been smarter than it looked. And she’ll put New Line’s After The Sunset forever in her dust by the end of business today.
Ray is slowing down a bit, but awards season should eventually push the film past the top musical bio-pic to date, Coal Miner’s Daughter (also a Universal release), which totalled out at $67 million domestically in 1980.
It’s an interesting awards hopscotch with the musical bio-pics when you look at box office success and Best Picture success. Top grosser CMD got nominated, #2 La Bamba did not, #3 Amadeus did, #4 What’s Love Got To Do WIth It did not, #5 Shine did, and #6 Selena did not.
One hates to pull out the "race card," but the only consistency I can see in this is that all the movies that didn’t get nominated were about ethnic stars and all the ones that got the nod were about caucasians. Let’s hope that Ray can break that streak.
Lions Gate’s micro-budget pick-up Saw should pass $50 million this weekend. It’s already LGF’s second highest grosser of the year, far more profitable for the studio than its association with Fahrenheit 9/11 (Home Entertainment alone on Saw will net more) and way out ahead of The Punisher, the successful but slightly disappointing Open Water and last year’s grossly overrated thriller, Cabin Fever.
The Oscar-looking trio of Finding Neverland, Kinsey and Sideways are kinda sitting there waiting for the next big moment to happen. The first two are both on 8 screens and had almost identical per-screen numbers for Friday, separated by fewer than 100 tickets sold.
Sideways is not killing out in the world, the only limited release (279 screens) besides The Motorcycle Diaries (233 screens), which has been out there twice as long. It looks to do about the same number as it did last weekend… despite being on four times as many screens. Sideways is going out much slower than Motorcycle did and way slower than Lost In Translation last year. But perhaps the most notable point is that L.I.T. was at $30 million by the first of this year, as Oscar ballots headed out. The Pianist, on the other hand, didn’t even open until Christmas in 2002. In 2001, Gosford Park opened on December 26. But there is always In The Bedroom to hang one’s hat on. It opened in November of 2001 and was still just under $15 million when nominations closed. That looks like the likely scenario for Sideways and The Motorcycle Diaries.
You have to go back to the 1997 awards to find the last time two films made it in that fiscal situation, Shine and Secrets & Lies… another Mike Leigh in play tha year, as well as a Jim Brooks production (Jerry Maguire).
The winner that year? An unabashedly romantic period drama with no name stars… not that I’m suggesting anything…