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A Very Happy New Year

January 5th, 2004

2004 started off with a bang as all movies in the top five beat expectations, although mostly by just a million or two. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King continues to lead and may yet have one more win up its sleeve for next week. This allowed 2004 to get an early jump improving upon last year's pace by more than 9%. There was a considerable drop from last week, but this was not surprising given the return to work / school on Monday. A drop of just 24% was the best week to week drop-off to start the year since 2000 when the box office dropped a mere 14%.

After briefly falling behind the other films’s pace, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King stormed back on the weekend to earn $28.2 million. That represents a drop of only 44%, which is midway between the previous films. And with that its total has reached $290 million and should cross $300 million by Friday, just two day longer than it took Spider-man to set the record in 2002. Any doubt if Return of the King would be the biggest film of the year has been erased.

Cheaper by the Dozen continues to surprise on its way to $100 million. It finished the weekend with $21.6 million and that’s more than was predicted for its opening weekend. The film had a total budget of $75 million, and Cheaper by the Dozen has already surpassed that at the box office. And even after taking into account the theatres’ share it should show a profit before the end of its domestic run. That’s an impressive feat.

The performance of Something's Gotta Give will hopefully show Hollywood that making movies that don’t involve big explosions or bowel movements can still succeed in today’s market. The film dropped just 15% at the box office and climbed one place during its fourth week, earning another $11.7 million. Like the previous film on the top five, Something’s Gotta Give will cross $100 million and should show a profit domestically.

Switching places with Something's Gotta Give was Cold Mountain. Its weekend box office of $11.6 million was down just 20% from last weekend, but it will need more award buzz to push it past $100 million.

The battle for fifth place wasn't as close as initially predicted. Paycheck took fifth over Peter Pan $9.8 million to $8.8 million. Neither movie is doing as well as the studios had hoped.

After expanding into more than 700 more theatres, Calendar Girls' per theatre average was almost as strong as its opening weekend. This helped it earn $4.4 million, a ninth place finish and possibly Sleeper Hit status in the long run.

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Filed under: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Cheaper by the Dozen, Something's Gotta Give, Cold Mountain, Paycheck, Peter Pan, Calendar Girls