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Halloween Marks the End of a Scary Month

October 31st, 2005

October was a bad month at the box office, but at least it ended on a strong note. Not only did the overall box office climb above the $100 million mark, but there was also substantial growth from last weekend at 14.5%, and even some growth from last year at 1.8%. Granted, that's below the ticket price inflation, so actual admissions were still down. And yes, Halloween did fall on a Sunday last year and that did depress the box office so the comparison isn't really fair. And, fine, 2005 is still 7% behind last year's pace. But in a year that brought us the longest evere year-to-year slump, we have to cherish all the good news we can find.

Saw II earned a surprising $31.7 million at the box office. Not only was that easily the best of the weekend, it was also the best opening since Charlie and the Chocolate Factory debuted in mid-July. Critics, on the other hand, were not so kind, and the combination of the horror genre and sequelitis should mean a huge drop-off next weekend. However, with a production budget of just $4 million and a P&A budget that was probably less than $20 million, the studio has probably already started to see a profit.

On the other hand, The Legend of Zorro just missed lowered expectations with $16.3 million in 3,520 theatres. Its awful reviews and poor per theatre average will likely result in short legs, meaning the film will need to perform much better on the international scene to be able to show a profit anytime soon.

Prime was another film that beat expectations, but in this case it was way too little way too late. It did finish third, but its opening of $6.2 million was nothing worth celebrating and while its reviews improved over the weekend, there's little chance of long legs at this point.

The first holdover of the weekend was Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, which fell a bit faster than expected, hitting $6.1 million over the weekend. There is little hope that the film will show a profit unless it becomes a surprise hit internationally, which seems unlikely given last week's debut in the U.K.

To emphasize how bad the competition was this weekend, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit fell faster than expected, losing nearly half its box office to $4.3 million, but that was still good enough for fifth place.

It's been a bad Fall for Nicolas Cage. First Lord of War struggled, and now The Weather Man absolutely bombed, with just $4.2 million. Its reviews may not have been great, but they were certainly better than that result would indicate. Perhaps it will find a second life on the home market.

Next up was Doom, which set a record this weekend for the largest second weekend drop-off for a film that opened in first place. The film was in free-fall dropping 72.7% to just $4.2 million. That was a faster drop-off than the previous 'champion' Hulk, which fell 69.7%. It is not as bad, however, as Star Trek: Nemesis's 76.2% collapse, although, the latter film just missed opening in first place by less than $200,000, and so doesn't qualify for the record. Universal has been having a rough year. Outside The 40-Year Old Virgin, they haven't had a real hit all year. On the plus side, it does make Serenity's performance look good by comparison.


Filed under: Saw II, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, The Legend of Zorro, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, Doom, Prime, The Weather Man