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Box Office Crashes on a Deserted Island

July 25th, 2005

I guess analysts got caught up in the recent bit of good news at the box office because nobody was able to predict this weekend's disaster. Only one film in the top five was able to beat expectations by any real margin and every new film came up short. Speaking of coming up short, the overall box office fell by 16% from last weekend and 8.8% from last year. However, strong weekday numbers helped on the year-to-date comparison with 2005 at $4.983 billion, down 7.7% from 2004 while the summer season is 9.6% below last year's pace.

As expected, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was able to hang onto first place this weekend with $28.3 million, which was almost exactly half of what it opened with. That's not the kind of legs the studio was hoping for, but it's good enough for the film to hit $100 million in just 9 days and it should become the fourth film of 2005 to reach $200 million. More importantly, it's enough that the film should show a profit before its international run is over or very early in its home market run at the very latest.

The Wedding Crashers had an amazing sophomore stint dropping a mere 24% to $25.7 million. $100 million is academic at this point, and so is making a profit. Depending on how much the studio spend in advertising and how much their share of the gross is, they could show a profit as early as this time next week.

The Fantastic Four recovered slightly at the box office this weekend remaining in third place with $12.6 million. Overall the film has $122.9 million and is just shy of matching earlier predictions.

The first of four new films was The Island, which managed just $12.4 million in more than 3,000 theaters. To put that in perspective, that's $4 million less than Catwoman opened with during the same weekend last year and that film was widely regarded as a huge bomb. Why did this happen? I think you don't need to look any further than the reviews and the ad campaign to answer that question. That latter problem I've discussed repeatedly since I first mentioned the film.

The Bad News Bears also struggled with the critics and missed expectations, but at $11.4 million it didn't miss them by as much as the previous film. The film didn't open that much weaker than Bad Santa, but unlike that Billy Bob Thorton flick, this one doesn't have the timely holidays to help it at the box office.

War of the Worlds was squeezed in the middle of the four new releases with $8.9 million, more than enough for the film to become just the second film from 2005 to hit $200 million.

Arguably the best start of all the new releases was by Hustle & Flow, which earned $8.0 million in just 1,013 theaters. It cost just $3 million to make and Paramount paid $9 million for the distribution rights, so everyone involved with the movie should already be very, very happy. And with excellent reviews and room to grow, it should earn amazing legs and make the theater owners just as happy.

The last new release on the week was the ultra-violent The Devil's Rejects, which came in eighth with $7.1 million. That's a little below expectation, but slightly more than it cost to make so nobody is going to complain. As for the reviews, they fell during the weekend but still managed to stay above the 50% positive level, but that will have little impact on the film's legs.

Ninth place went to Batman Begins with $4.7 million. The film is now destined for $200 million, making it only the third film of 2005 to do so.

Rounding out the top ten was March of the Penguins; these unstoppable birds nearly doubled their total box office over the weekend with $4.4 million for a $9.3 million cume. Outside of IMAX and Michael Moore films, this movie is headed into a realm almost unheard of for documentaries, which makes predicting its final tally nearly impossible.

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Filed under: War of the Worlds, Wedding Crashers, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Batman Begins, Fantastic Four, La marche de l'empereur, The Island, The Bad News Bears, Hustle & Flow, The Devil's Rejects