A terrible week for first run releases. There are five such releases on this week's list, but they has a combined haul of around $130 million, and nearly $100 million of that came from two films. With no big releases, we had to look other places for the DVD Pick of the Week. Repo! The Genetic Opera on Blu-ray is a clear contender for that title, but its lack of mass appeal is troublesome. This American Life - Season Two is a safer pick, but it is a Borders Exclusive release. Regardless of these issues, both releases are worthy of the DVD Pick of the Week. Despite the weakness at the top, there are still more than enough total releases to cause this column to stretch into two parts. The second part can be found here.
It may seem like a really slow week for DVD releases, but this is because several releases were grouped together. I have one section for the five Alfred Hitchcock
releases instead of spreading them out and padding the word count. Taking that into account, the week is about average in terms of quantity, and quality. There were a handful of contenders this week, and a few that looked good in advance but the special feature were a let down. In the end I went with NewsRadio
- The Complete Fourth Season
as the best of the best while Married With Children
- The Complete Fifth Season
earns and honorable mention. ... "Go with him." (If you get that reference, you probably already have the latter release pre-ordered.)
Every week films get a second chance at success from the home market; or, in some cases, a first chance at success. This is the worst week for DVDs since the beginning of February
. There's not one, not two, but FIVE
DVDs that were in contention for the DVD Pick of the week. And with all but one from the TV on DVD section, this is going to be a very expensive week for me. Even if I don't buy groceries for the week I'll still need to trim the list by a couple. Go with Dead Like Me - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
- The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
and The Thin Blue Line
- The Complete Line-Up - Buy from Amazon
. Maybe I can sell some blood to pick up The Simpsons
- The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
and The Station Agent
- Buy from Amazon
. Maybe if I sell a kidney I can get a whole new home theatre system as well. [Editor's Note: He's joking ... we think.]
In addition to the $46.9 million Troy earned at the domestic box office, the ancient history movie made $54.7 million on 6,722 screens in 47 markets internationally. Some highlights were the $8.5 million in Germany, $6.3 million in Spain, $5.1 million in France and $4.7 million in Australia. And while a $107 million opening weekend seems spectacular, this is a very expensive film to get to theatres. Combine the production budget, domestic P&A budgets, translations / dubbing / subtitles, etc. and the final cost is nearing $250 million. On the plus side, Troy should have better legs and more international appeal than Van Helsing so Warner Bros. should see a profit before the home market. P.S. If this story sounds familiar, you must have a long memory.
In addition to the $51.7 million Van Helsing earned at the domestic box office, the monster movie made $55.3 million on 5,254 screens in 41 markets internationally. Not only was that easily the largest box office this weekend, but it was the best we've seen this year. Some highlights were the $9.9 million in the U.K. and $7 million in Germany. And while a $107 million opening weekend seems spectacular, this is a very expensive film to get to theatres. Combine the production budget, domestic P&A budgets, translations / dubbing / subtitles, etc. and the final cost is nearing $250 million. A strong home market will be needed before Universal sees a profit.
After a huge start in the international market, there was a series a steep drops for Kill Bill: Volume 2
that all but guarantees it won't earn as much as the original
. Drops like 51% in Germany, 46% in Italy helped push the weekend total down to just $10 million in 27 markets.
Kill Bill: Volume 2
's first foray into the foreign markets proved very profitable. The film earned $18.5 million in 21 markets and increases compared to the debut of the original
in all but one market. Many of those increases were in the double-digit range so it's an impressive start. Unfortunately, one of the largest markets for the first film, Japan, saw a huge 47% drop for Volume 2. This can easily be explained by the fact that half of Volume 1 took place in Japan.
The Passion of the Christ saw large drop-offs in many international markets but openings in nine others helped stabilize its overall box office. Maybe. I'm getting some conflicting reports on the box office figures. $14.6 or $25 is the two prevailing estimates I've found. I do believe the $25 million is for the whole week while the $14.6 million is for the weekend.
It was hardly a surprise that The Passion of the Christ
was able to take top spot over Easter weekend. What is a surprise is the amount; just $26 million is barely an increase from last weekend. There was only one new opening, but it was in Italy, one of the most staunchly Catholic nations. The film did cross $100 million internationally some time during the mid-week, but a serious post-Easter drop-off is expected.
Another good news bad new weekend. Bad news, the total box office was down 8% from last weekend. Good new, it was up 31% from last year. Good news, 2004 has finally surpassed 2003 year-to-date. Bad news, that's due to inflation as admissions are still lower. Really bad news, the jump is thanks entirely to one movie, or the controversy surrounding one movie.
We haven't seen two film open with strong prospects since the beginning of February. And with last week's winner still going strong, 2004 should pass 2003 at the box office.
There was some good news and some bad news this past weekend. First the good news, we saw huge increases at the box office this weekend, both from the previous weekend, (66%) and from last year (48%). Now the bad news; it was all thanks to one movie, which doesn't bode well for the overall strength of the box office. In fact, even after last weekend 2004 is still 3% back of 2003's pace.
Thanks to the controversy surrounding The Passions of the Christ
, 2004 should finally start making up some ground on 2003. Even with the Oscars on Sunday 2003, Passions alone will boost the box office. But the other three movies probably wouldn't even register on the radar during a normal weekend.
2004 is turning into a disaster. Over the weekend four movies opened to a combined 21% positive and $10 million below expectations. Post holiday weekends are usually a bit of a slump, but this weekend dropped by nearly 25% and below the $100 million mark. Compared to last year the weekend is down an astounding 17.5% and 10% year to date. And the news doesn't get any better; next weekend the box office has to go head-to-head with the Oscars.
Well, it had to happen, after a great start to February first critically and then financially, it all comes crashing down this weekend. Four movies open wide this weekend and none of them impressing critics and neither do they have much of a shot at a stellar box office. On the plus side, this weekend last year
was weak, so we should see 2004 gain some ground on 2003. Or at least do better than the nearly 9% year to date decline.
The rerelease of the French musical Umbrellas of Cherbourg
topped this week's per theatre average chart with $14,760 in its lone theatre. Three other films very close to each other battling for second place. The overall champ, 50 First Dates
finished a strong second with $11,098 in almost 3600 theatres. While Osama
spent its second weekend on the list with $10,151. The final film to top $10,000 was the self-distributed Robot Stories
. Despite having a tiny distribution budget, the Science Fiction anthology sold out four showings on its way to earning $10,026 in it only theatre.
Mixed would be the best way to describe the weekend results. With the exception of the number one film, all movies beat Friday's predictions. However, the overall box office was again failed to match last year's pace. Valentine's Day and President's Day helped the 3-day total increase by more than 10% from last weekend, but it was down 14% from last year. The four-day total fared better, but by a barely noticeable margin dropping 13%.
With both Valentine's Day and President's Day occurring this weekend, there are twice as many reasons to see a movie. And with only one movie opening wide, it should open huge. Holdovers should also perform well given the extra day, but they will have a hard time living up to last year.
During the past week promotional websites for several movies were launched and some older ones added additional content. Here the list of this week's releases, a couple of new sites and few updates including the winner for the week, Eternal
. If you know of any new movie websites not on this list feel free to e-mail me with the details.
February started out strong, at least compared to January, with two of the three wide releases performing strongly. And even though we saw a sharp 17% increase from last weekend, 2004 continues losing ground to 2003. It fell 8% from last same weekend last year and maintaining its year to date decline of 8%. And next week 50 First Dates
will need a near record
performance lest 2004 drop even further back.
During the past week promotional websites for several movies were launched and some older ones added additional content. This week we have a larger list to make up for the holidays, but a winter storm took out my internet access on Tuesday / Wednesday so the column is a little late today. Here the list of new releases, updated sites, and some upcoming releases that slipped through the cracks, including the winner for the week Along Came Polly - Official Site . If you know of any new movie websites not on this list feel free to e-mail me with the details.