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Season's Day in the Sun

October 3rd, 2006

The weekend box office was a little softer that expected, but not so much so that one needs to worry about a continuing slump. In fact, the overall box office hit $100 million over the weekend and that was slightly higher than last weekend (by slightly, I mean less than 1%). However, that was up a huge 12.1% from the same weekend last year and that is the much more significant number.

Open Season was the first film released under the Sony Pictures Animation division and it became the third film from that studio to open in first place... during the month of September alone. It was also the 11th film the studio has managed to open in first place this year extending their record-setting run on the top of the charts. On the down side, the film's $23.6 million was a little softer than expected and the film was a lot more expensive than previously thought, having a production budget of between $75 and $90 million. Good news, reviews improved over the weekend ending up at 51% positive and that should help the film's legs, especially with the lack of new kid and / or digitally animated movies throughout the month of October. Will it be enough to recoup the film's production budget? Probably not until the home market.

The Guardian also missed expectations but by a slightly more significant margin, finishing the weekend in second place with $18.0 million. Where did this film go wrong? First of all, reviews didn't help. Also, I don't think many people accepted Ashton Kutcher as an action star. Should the film earn better than expected legs or find an audience internationally it could still prove to be a moneymaker, but so far the studio has to be disappointed with its start.

On the other hand, Jackass: Number Two made enough during its second weekend alone to nearly cover its production budget. The film was able to avoid the 50% sophomore stint drop-off, adding $14.6 million to its running tally of $52.1 million. It is already profitable and the only way they don't make another installment in the franchise is if they can't get enough insurance.

Next up is School for Scoundrels with a mere $8.6 million in 3,004 theatres for a per theatre average of $2,864. This puts the film in the bottom ten for opening weekends for a film opening in 3,000 or more theatres. Interestingly, just earlier in the year Bad News Bears, which I compared this film to on Thursday, was also in the bottom ten but was since pushed out. Even if the film has a soft drop-off next weekend, and the reviews suggest otherwise, it will see a huge drop in its theatre count come week three and will be (nearly) out of theatres by the end of the month. On a side note, both Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder are going to have to choose radically different roles in the near future or fear seeing their drawing power erode even further.

As expected, Jet Li's Fearless and Gridiron Gang battled for fifth place. However, neither lived up to expectations with the former making just under $5.0 million and latter bringing in $4.6 million. For Fearless that represents a 53% drop-off, which is about on par with Jet Li's career average while Gridiron Gang has already surpassed Dwayne Johnson's previous film's total.

Moving onto the sophomore class, neither film had a weekend to remember. Flyboys fell just over 60% to $2.4 million for the weekend and just $9.9 million during its run. This is a $60 million bomb with almost no chance of recouping its costs. All the King's Men didn't fare much better down 58% to a tiny $1.5 million on 1,520 screens. Its running tally of $6.2 million is negligible and given the price of film prints, it might have been financially more prudent to release the film direct-to-DVD.


Filed under: Open Season, Jackass: Number Two, The Guardian, Gridiron Gang, Huo Yuan Jia, School for Scoundrels, Flyboys, All the King's Men