Every week films get a second chance at success from the home market; or, in some cases, a first chance at success. Last week
there were nearly 700 new releases, but the list of releases this week
is just a third the length. However, in many ways it's a much stronger week with three or four candidates for DVD pick of the week. Some of the candidates were the multiple Oscar winning Mystic River
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and the hilarious SCTV
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. But in the end I went with The Dead Zone
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, one of the best Stephen King
adaptations in the past decade, although I'll probably end up buying all three anyway.
Another 7 openings helped keep The Passion of the Christ in top spot with $25.4 million. And the same pattern is holding true, the smaller the market the better the result. In Spain it opened to $3.2 million, about on par with Gothika's opening at the end of February. In South Korea it opened first with $2.3 million, significantly below the local productions that have been taking tops spot for most of the year. So far the film has earned just over $80 million internationally and over $400 million worldwide.
With no new wider releases the top five international box office finished in the same order as last weekend. The Passion of the Christ
again topped the week thanks to number one openings in many markets and even a few records. The biggest slice of its estimated $16 million take came from the U.K. where it finished first, sort of. Including previews its $3.6 was strong enough for first place; if you don't include previews then it drops to third place behind the debut of Dawn of the Dead
and the second weekend of Starsky and Hutch
. The film again had strong results in small markets breaking records in Argentina and Venezuela. Total international run now sits at $58.7 million in 36 markets, good, but certainly not comparable to its domestic total.
The Passion of the Christ
had mixed openings during its fourth weekend in international release. In Latin America is performed very well, where it made two thirds of its $15 million weekend take, breaking records in Chile and Central America along the way. On the flip side it could only manage a paltry $2.3 million in Germany, half of first place Brother Bear
and on par with Gothika
's opening earlier in the year. It would have been more impressive if the situation was reversed. After all, record breaking performances throughout Latin American won't earn as much as a blockbuster performance in Germany. Overall Passions has pulled in $32.3 million in 19, mostly smaller markets.
Without an international breakout hit, the domestic slowdown is still affecting the international box-office. This week a single massive opening in a major market could have put a film in the top five. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. But a string of strong openings helped push Along Came Polly
into first place with $12.4 million. It's still early in its international run, but with $40.2 million so far and with some big markets left it should beat its domestic total.
The earlier domestic box office slow down is starting to affect the international box office as no movie could manage $10 million or more at the box office. Compare that to last week
when three movies managed that feat. Even winning 11 Oscars didn't help Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
's international box office as it dropped 15% to $9.4 million, although that was enough for it to reclaim the weekly crown. Overall its international total is now just shy of $680 million while its worldwide total is nearing $1.05 billion.
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.
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.
There was a surprise upset this weekend for top spot on the charts. But even with the number one film beating expectations by more than $12 million, the overall box office still couldn't meet expectations. Total box office was done 5.2% from last weekend, dropping below the $100 million mark. Year to date 2004 was already down 6% from last year and this weekend didn't help the cause; it dropped 18.4% from last year, but just 5.2% from last Superbowl weekend.
It's been a while since the prospects for catching a good movie at the theatres was this bad. And it's not like there's lack of wide releases this week. There are three of them. Three wide releases with combined reviews of only 17% positive. In fact, the box office race for top spot should prove more interesting that any of the movies trying to get there.
There seems to be a pattern developing for 2004. The number one movie surprises, but the overall box office is lower than expected. This week was no different. The total box office was down from last weekend's 3-day total, which is not surprising as last weekend was a long weekend. But it dropped by a massive 24.7%. The performance compared to last year that is more troubling. Before the weekend 2004 was 7% behind 2003 and at first glance this weekend was almost flat compared to last year, down less than $200,000 or just 0.002%. But this weekend last year was Superbowl weekend, so the performance is really more equivalent to a 10% drop.
Two movies staring That '70s Show
alumnus open this weekend, and while neither of them will be recognized with any major awards, they probably won't light up the box office either. In fact, next weekend isn't looking that spectacular either. The box office should pick up again in February.