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Box Office Fights a Losing War

July 5th, 2005

It was a very predictable weekend at the box office as four of the top five films finished within $1 million or so within expectations, at least over the first 3 days. Monday was another story as several films missed predictions. And as expected, the overall box office was down again on a year-to-year comparison -- and that's now for 19 weeks in a row. But first some good news, the 3-day portion of the weekend saw an 11.1% increase from last weekend, which is not all that great taking into account the holiday on Monday. On a yearly comparison the 3-day weekend was down 14.6% while the 4-day weekend was down an incredible 23%. Year-to-date 2005 has now brought in $4.313 billion, 8.4% behind 2004, while the summer is down 11.7% at $1.813 billion so far.

The War of the Worlds finished first, which was never in doubt. Over the three-day weekend, the film met expectations nearly perfectly at $64.9, but like most films it was a little soft on Monday, finishing with $77.1 million and $112.7 million since it opened on Wednesday. That's a strong opening, the best for both Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise and with reasonable legs for a summer blockbuster, the film should be able to cover its $135 million production budget. Its reviews are good, but not great and the film could beat initial expectations.

Another film that met expectations was Batman Begins, which continued to show some legs adding $15.7 million over the 3-day weekend and $19.4 million if you include Monday. That gives the film $148.7 million, putting it in 4th place for the year ahead of The Longest Yard. Batman Begins will hit $150 million shortly and should finish its run in 3rd place for the year (but will most likely be pushed out of the top five for 2005 when all is said and done).

Mr. and Mrs. Smith remained in third place thanks to better than average drop-off of 37%. Over the 3-day weekend the film made $10.6 million and $12.7 million over 4-days for a $146.1 million running tally. This is another film that isn't done climbing the yearly chart and should capture a place in the top ten of 2005.

The holiday couldn't help Bewitched hold on as it fell 54.5% during the 3-day portion to just $9.2 million. Even taking into account Monday, the film only managed $11.1 million for $40.6 million so far. That is much too low for an $80 million movie.

Rounding out the top five was Herbie: Fully Loaded with $8.8 million / $10.8 million. Granted, it did hold up a bit better than expected, but its higher placing was thanks to the competition's weakness. This should help the film top its production budget at the box office, but it won't meet original expectations.

Madagascar continued its attack on Hitch's for second place in the year. With $5.4 million / $6.7 million this weekend it is still a couple weeks away from overtaking that film, but The War of the Worlds will probably beat it to the punch.

The second wide release of the week was Rebound, which made just half of what was expected with $5.0 million / $6.0 million. And given its poor per theater average, and its even worse reviews, it won't last long in theaters.

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith added $4.1 million / $5.0 million over the weekend and is now just over $4 million from topping The Passion of the Christ for ninth spot on the All-Time Charts. The Longest Yard has likely ended its time in the top ten with a $3.3 million / $4.0 million haul. The film is just shy of $150 million domestically, but won't become Adam Sandler's biggest film.

The last film on the top ten was George A. Romero's Land of the Dead, which plummeted by 73% to just $2.7 million over the 3-day weekend and $3.3 million including Monday. The only film to open in the top five that dropped faster was Star Trek: Nemesis at 76.15%. Compared to that film, George A. Romero's Land of the Dead earned much better reviews than Star Trek: Nemesis earned, so it's a case of Fanboy Effect.

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Filed under: Star Wars Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith, War of the Worlds, Batman Begins, Madagascar, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Longest Yard, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Bewitched, George A. Romero's Land of the Dead, Rebound