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Polly Wants a Number One Spot

January 21st, 2004

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is usually celebrated by the movie industry by dumping movies that the studios have little faith in, in hopes that the holiday crowds will give it an undeserved boost. This year two of the three new releases beat expectations (at least for the 3-day weekend) and the one that didn't had the best reviews for the week. (I really must stop basing my prediction on quality.) The 3-day total box office was 7% above last weekend, but down 8% from last year. The 4-day yearly decline was about the same.

Along Came Polly nearly doubled expectations with $27.7 million for the three-day weekend and $32.5 million for the four-day. The film beat Ben Stiller's last outing in just one day. And it is already Jennifer Aniston's second best performance. It would take much better word-of-mouth than its reviews to become the first movie from 2004 to cross $100 million, but stranger things have happened.

The rest of the field was far behind the number one, but very close to each other. In fact, the number 2 and 3 films, as well as 4 and 5 switched places depending on if you look at the 3-day weekend or the 4-day weekend.

The battle for second between Big Fish and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was even closer than initially predicted. Big Fish lead after 3-days $10.3 million to $10.2 million, but a strong Monday finish for King helped it take the second for the 4-day weekend $12.4 million to $12.3 million. Return of the King's total of $329 million is enough for tenth all-time and it is just a few hundred thousand from overtaking Forest Gump for ninth overall.

While Torque started out strong on Friday with a second place finish, it couldn't out race bad word-of-mouth for long. By the end of the 3-day weekend with was down to fourth with $10.0 million, which was ahead of predictions. But by the time Monday was over it had dropped a spot to fifth with $11.4 million, which was below predictions. If you're looking for a reason for its collapse at the box office, look no further than its reviews.

Depending of the box office percentage the studio gets, Cheaper by the Dozen may have started showing a profit this weekend. Its cause was helped out by a stronger than expected fourth weekend performance. A three day performance of $9.0 million was good enough for fifth place, but a second place finish on Monday allowed it to leap-frog over Torque into fourth place with $11.9 million. But unless one of next week's two new openings bomb, this will be its last week in the top 5.

The last movie to open wide this week, Teacher's Pet, didn't make the top five. In fact, it didn't even make the top 10. Despite easily getting the best reviews of the new releases, it could only manage $2.5 million and a 13th place finish for the 3-day weekend. It did finish 6th on Monday raising its totals to $3.6 million and an 11th place finish.

Three movies crossed $100 million this weekend. On Friday The Cat in the Hat made it, followed by Last Samurai on Saturday and Something's Gotta Give on Sunday.

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Filed under: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Cheaper by the Dozen, Something's Gotta Give, The Last Samurai, The Cat in the Hat, Big Fish, Torque, Teacher's Pet: The Movie