MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

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…

26 Responses to “Weekend Box Office”

  1. Martin says:

    Sideways may not need to be a big hit to get nominations. $$ might help secure a win or two though. If Alexander is as bad as everyone is saying, the Oscar race might be kinda weak this year, allowing smaller movies to get it. Natl Treasure surprised me, it looked like a $20/$80 now it looks more like a $33/$120. The guy with the Midas touch wins again. Other than that.. Polar Express looks like its basically died. I still say its the stony look of the characters faces, combined with the lack of humor/lightness in the trailers that kept its primary audience away. And I guess Spongebob’s success means Hasselhoff is back in the game. Or not.

  2. Filipe says:

    The 500 screen opening week of Bridget Jones 2 was a repeat of the successful release of the first film. The only problem is the first got good word of mouth, this one don’t, and Universal should have know that their product this time would not survive this sort of word of mouth test. By the screen average that this film did last week the 4000 p/screen that it will do on wide realease is bad pretty bad. It’s like it had a 20m opening (i think it could have actually done a little better than that) and then have a 50% drop. Universal lose money in this plataform release. And Dave, you’re not completly right on saying that it was the same thing as have a big opening. If it did a 20m opening, it would have a second weekend on 10m and than a third on 5m (to stay with a drop around 50%). Now it’s like it opened on 20m and then drop straight to 5-6m that it would did in the third weekend. It’s like the film skipped it’s second weekend of release and went straight to the third. With a big opening it would certainly hit third week over 40m (i bet it would be around 45m), now it will probably be around 35m. 50m for this film is a loser (a big one, if you throw the fact that it kills a possible long-term franchise).

  3. Stella's Boy says:

    Apparently the budget for Bridget Jones 2 was $70 million. That’s pretty nuts. Anyone know what National Treasure cost to make? It did better than I expected, too.

  4. Brett says:

    People are still talking about The Motorcycle Diaries for the Oscas? I thought it was a fine movie, but now that Bad Education is released the Motorcycle Diaries will now be know to the public as ‘the other Gael Garcia Bernal movie’.
    People seem to like Sideways enough, but there doesn’t seem to be a great amount of love for the well-made but not overwhelming or life-changing movie. Still, I expect a screenplay nomination and some overdue recognition for Paul Giamatti, but nothing more.

  5. Jeff says:

    Cabin Fever was neither grossly overrated, nor a thriller. It was one of the year’s best black comedies.

  6. Martin says:

    Cabin Fever was retarded dude, you have horrible taste in movies.

  7. Yes, the $70 million pricetag on Bridget Jones seems nuts… until you realize that the first movie made $280 million worldwide and the sequel is already breaking records around the rest of the globe. It may be a domestic disappointment, but it’ll most likely join The Last Samurai and Troy as an international success story.

  8. Martin says:

    Considering most of the world doesnt speak English, that doesnt say much for the quality of the film.

  9. Chucky in Jersey says:

    “National Treasure” opening #1 is an upset. It was to have been a Touchstone release (per the trailer) but got changed to a Walt Disney Pictures release at the last moment.
    “Bridget Jones 2″ going national to $10M? Good thing Universal’s handling this pic worldwide. Miramax released the first “Bridget Jones” in the US and couldn’t get it to $100M.
    “Ray” is starting to run out of gas. In the NY area, at least one theater will pick up “Kinsey” for Thanksgiving and bump “Ray” to nights only.
    “Sideways” is a smash: It sold out at least 1 Saturday show at an AMC megaplex in New Jersey and caused a backup on the highway leading to a nearby arthouse. Fox is ultra-smart in keeping “Sideways” limited.
    Miramax as usual buys hype and mishandles a release: Regular shows for “Finding Neverland” in Manhattan, sneak previews in the suburbs. Miramax pulled the same crap with “Chicago”.
    FWIW the 3rd weekend of “Monsters, Inc.” was opposite the 1st weekend of “Harry Potter”.

  10. Stella's Boy says:

    I don’t know if Sideways is a smash. Its per screen average is not that impressive at this point.

  11. Mark says:

    Sideways deserves more box office and a stronger marketing push. It is too good not to.

  12. TheLifeAndDeathBrigade says:

    Bridget Jones2 easily follows up a pretty kick ass
    Rom-Com. If you liked the first one, then you will
    like this one. Universal just pulled a friggin
    Almost Famous with this films release pattern,
    and it cost them dearly. Of course Studio Canal and
    Working Title will have fun counting all of that
    coin from the rest of the world. The law of averages
    finally caught up with Universal. It was bound
    to happen.
    Just give up on Sideways getting anything outside
    of a writing nomination. This film suffers from
    gettting word of mouth, then the rest of the country
    having to catch up to it. At least it sold out
    twice in my town, but they did offer a wine tasting.
    So they might have come for the booze more than
    the aching sorrow of an Alexander Payne movie.
    This just goes to show you kids; Limited Releasing
    kills movies. Any dependent released film should
    never, especially if they are all about the gold
    or getting a good return, open to anything less to
    300 to 500 screens. Of course, this should be
    for movies by dependents, that the studios feel
    should have more of a national push.
    We live in a much smaller world entertainment wise.
    Studios deserve to lose more money. If they continue
    such a backward strategy.

  13. Martin says:

    thats dumb, it depends on the film. Look at Napoleon Dynamite. Sideways was never going to be extremely commercial. Now it will make around $15, maybe more if it gets nominations. I highly doubt Giamatti is out of the running.

  14. Stella's Boy says:

    Not true regarding Bridget Jones 2 and liking it if you liked the first one. Check out Kim Morgan’s scathing review over at moviepoopshoot, and she liked the original. My mom and sisters, both fans of the first, saw it last night and hated it. I think this is fairly common. That’s probably why it won’t match the first one at the box office, or at least a large part of why.

  15. bicycle bob says:

    why stagger an opening like bridget jones? seems like its biggest chance is to make a quick weekend splash. not good enough to stagger the opening. pretty dumb of them

  16. Sam the Fibs says:

    That Bridget Jones did so much better says something about what the movies says to women. It’s probably best encapsulated by the scene in the new movie when Bridget is in prison in Thailand. She gets the girls talking about their boyfriends and what d—ks they are.
    Historically comedies haven’t done as well internationally, but the Brits do seem to have a good record. As William Goldman wrote, it’s action movies for “mouth breathers in the Pacific Rim” that do well overseas.
    Oh and I don’t know where it ranks, but Funny Girl was also nominated for Best Picture in ’68. It lost to ANOTHER musical, Oliver! which I’ve always found painful to watch. (And yet 2001 wasn’t nominated!!!!)

  17. Filipe says:

    Goldman is wrong. Romantic comedies and dramas usually do well overseas. There’s not such a thing as an overseas market, as what is popular in Spain is not always popular in Argentina. Some stars that can’t always open a film in US are very good openers in other markets (which is one of the reasons for Troy’s strong performance on foreign markets, for example). The Bridget Jones’s books were far bigger best sellers in Europe than in US, which is why the first film did so much better there. In the other hand, TV shows remakes perform poorly overseas because in most countries the original TV shows are unknown to audiences.
    But one thing is true: straight comedy travels badly. There’s many reasons for that. First, comedyu doesn’t translate well. Many things that are funny in english aren’t as funny with portuguese subtitles. Comedy usually deals with cultural aspects that are not as well known by a foreign audience. And theres a third problem: most popular holywood comedians (Carrey, Sandler, Farrell, Stiller) become film stars before being first TV stars. Distributors have a lot harder time to sell their names to audiences. Here in Brazil, Carrey is popular, but Sandler and Stiller tracking record is porr and Farrell is almost completly unknown (Anchorman just get dumped a few weeks ago in a few screens, Old School went straight to video).

  18. Mark says:

    Good comedies travel well. Bad? They don’t.

  19. jesse says:

    Mark, I’m sure that’s not as true as you’d like to believe. That’s like saying only good dramas translate well overseas (or like only good comedies do well here in the U.S.!). The Royal Tenenbaums is one of the best comedies of this decade, and its overseas business was far from stellar. Anchorman is one of the funniest movies of the year, and it barely did any business outside of North America. Movies with funny dialogue will be especially hurt (as I’m sure they are when they come from other countries to the U.S.– how many times have you seen an art house crowd titter or giggle at “funny” subtitled dialogue in, say, a French movie like Amelie that wouldn’t make them laugh at all in English) (OK, maybe that’s a separate issue).

  20. Mark says:

    If you think Tenenbaums was a comedy that would play overseas than you have no business even arguing here. American comedies don’t play well overseas as it is. Especially a movie thats not a classic comedy. It was a movie that had subtle, ironic humor. Not slapstick.

  21. jesse says:

    I was only responding to what seemed like you dismissing the discussion of comedies working or not working overseas with the generalization that “good comedies travel well,” and bad ones don’t. No, I didn’t think Tenenbaums would play overseas– but according to your logic, it should’ve, since it was good.
    Did you see Johnny English? That was an international hit, and it was occasionally amusing at best.
    I’m just saying, as much as we’d like to think film is a universal language and the good ones get a fair shake where-ever they play in the world, that’s simply not the case.

  22. Mark says:

    Johnny English was a British movie. Made with one of Britians greatest comic stars and heroes. How can you compare that to a movie like Tenenbaums? It is already international.

  23. jesse says:

    You’re pathologically avoiding my actual point, that saying “good comedies travel well, bad comedies don’t” is incorrect. Johnny English did well across the globe (regardless of its UK origins, it did well in many different countries), and it wasn’t good. I’m not comparing the two except to say that your earlier statement is incorrect.

  24. TheBrotherhoodOfTheLostSkeletonOfCadavra says:

    Your statement that “Johnny English” wasn’t good is an opinion, not a fact. I’m far from the world’s biggest Atkinson fan, but it had me on the floor from frame one. That it was scripted by two genuine 007 screenwriters may be one reason why the satire worked better than most (for one thing, Johnny isn’t stupid; he’s merely a klutz), and the muscle-relaxant scene and Malkovich’s bored reaction as he overhears Johnny’s plans are priceless, plus I would never have thought Natalie Merchant capable of giving such a solid performance.
    This is also an opinion.

  25. Mark says:

    Mr Bean is a classic.

  26. jesse says:

    I did like the muscle-relaxant bit. That was really fine physical comedy. I chuckled occasionally, but I didn’t think it was as dead-on as it needed to be.
    Anyway, I was just using it as an example; regardless of how you or I feel about it, I think we can agree that Johnny English wasn’t a movie widely “known” as a “good, solid comedy”… and my point was it’s not just “good” comedies that travel well, and mediocre stuff that doesn’t. Some of those early Jim Carrey movies are wildly hit and miss, but they translate well because of the physical humor. I’m sure I could find a comedy that Mark didn’t think was any good, but did well overseas.

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Leonard Klady's Friday Estimates
Friday Screens % Chg Cume
Title Gross Thtr % Chgn Cume
Venom 33 4250 NEW 33
A Star is Born 15.7 3686 NEW 15.7
Smallfoot 3.5 4131 -46% 31.3
Night School 3.5 3019 -63% 37.9
The House Wirh a Clock in its Walls 1.8 3463 -43% 49.5
A Simple Favor 1 2408 -50% 46.6
The Nun 0.75 2264 -52% 111.5
Hell Fest 0.6 2297 -70% 7.4
Crazy Rich Asians 0.6 1466 -51% 167.6
The Predator 0.25 1643 -77% 49.3
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The Hate U Give 0.17 36
Shine 85,600 609
Exes Baggage 75,900 62
NOTA 71,300 138
96 61,600 62
Andhadhun 55,000 54
Afsar 45,400 33
Project Gutenberg 36,000 17
Love Yatri 22,300 41
Hello, Mrs. Money 22,200 37
Studio 54 5,300 1
Loving Pablo 4,200 15
3-Day Estimates Weekend % Chg Cume
No Good Dead 24.4 (11,230) NEW 24.4
Dolphin Tale 2 16.6 (4,540) NEW 16.6
Guardians of the Galaxy 7.9 (2,550) -23% 305.8
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4.8 (1,630) -26% 181.1
The Drop 4.4 (5,480) NEW 4.4
Let's Be Cops 4.3 (1,570) -22% 73
If I Stay 4.0 (1,320) -28% 44.9
The November Man 2.8 (1,030) -36% 22.5
The Giver 2.5 (1,120) -26% 41.2
The Hundred-Foot Journey 2.5 (1,270) -21% 49.4