Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Wrapup: "Pirates" #1, "Knocked Up" Strong #2

by | June 3, 2007 | Comments

Disney still claimed the most popular film in the land with "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" despite a drop that was sizable even by tentpole standards. Universal generated a stronger than expected debut for its new adult comedy "Knocked Up" which pushed its way into the runnerup spot sending Shrek the Third down to third in weekend number three.

For the first time in over a year, three different films grossed over $25M each in the same weekend. But the overall marketplace posted numbers typical for early June and did not flex the kind of muscles the industry would expect when three of the most expensive films ever made were all playing simultaneously.

Johnny Depp was still king of the world and collected an estimated $43.2M for "At World’s End" in its second weekend in theaters. Down a sharp 62%, the latest high seas adventure has now taken in a solid $216.5M worth of treasure in ten-plus days of release. The drop was identical to the fall that "Spider-Man 3" suffered in its sophomore session last month but larger than the 54% decline witnessed by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" last July.

Sophomore drops for other effects-driven action pictures debuting over the Memorial Day holiday frame include 67% for last year’s "X-Men: The Last Stand" and 60% for 2004’s "The Day After Tomorrow." Those two films saw their ten-day cumes account for 75% and 70% of their final cumes, respectively. Based on its opening and sophomore drop, "At World’s End" may end up with $310-320M domestically. Though it would be significantly behind the $423.3M of "Chest," the third chapter will still collect a lot of loot in North America.

Just like with "Spider-Man 3," "At World’s End" is holding up better in offshore markets. The Captain Jack saga grossed an estimated $105.4M internationally this weekend dropping only 46% from last weekend’s Friday-to-Sunday period. That puts the overseas tally at an amazing $408.8M after less than two weeks and the worldwide cume at a towering $625.3M with 65% coming from abroad. Chest saw 60% of its sales come from international waters. "At World’s End" looks to be on course to gross at least $850M globally and could certainly sail past the $900M mark too.

Delivering a healthy opening in second place was the new pregnancy comedy "Knocked Up" with an estimated $29.3M in its first weekend. Averaging a very fertile $10,200 from 2,871 theaters, the R-rated pic debuted 37% stronger than writer/director Judd Apatow’s last film, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," which bowed to $21.4M from a similar number of theaters in August 2005. After a month of big-budget sequels, Knocked Up served as a breath of fresh air in the marketplace. Critical praise, a lack of comedies for adults, and a marketing campaign that reminded moviegoers of the director’s last work all helped to bring in ticket sales that led to the best per-theater average of any wide release.

Universal’s research showed that 57% of the audience was female and 56% was over the age of 30 for the Seth RogenKatherine Heigl comedy. "Knocked Up"’s long-term playability looks strong given that 92% of audiences polled rated the film "excellent" or "very good." "Virgin" went on to gross five times its opening weekend take ending up with $109.3M. Especially impressive was "Knocked Up"’s ability to approach the opening weekend numbers of recent comedy hits like "Blades of Glory" ($33M debut, $9,791 average) and "Norbit" ($34.2M, $10,904) despite its harsher rating and lack of any bankable A-list star. Plus its $30M production budget will make it easy to become a profitable venture for the studio as an invite to the century club seems guaranteed.

The ogre sequel "Shrek the Third" fell 50% in its third weekend and finished in third place with an estimated $26.7M. It was a steep drop for this kind of picture at this point in time especially since there was little new direct competition. By comparison, weekend declines of other recent animated films from DreamWorks on the weekend after Memorial Day were 24% for last year’s "Over the Hedge," 41% for 2005’s "Madagascar," and 47% for 2004’s "Shrek 2" which was greatly affected by the record $93.7M debut of the third "Harry Potter" film. Still, "Shrek the Third" boosted its total to $254.6M landing it at number 37 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters, a hair behind rival toon "Monsters, Inc." which took in $255.9M in 2001. At its current pace, a final domestic tally of $320-330M could result for the newest ogre tale.

MGM went after older adults with its crime thriller "Mr. Brooks" and saw a mediocre fourth place debut. The Kevin CostnerDemi Moore pic bowed to an estimated $10M from 2,453 locations for a mild $4,085 average. Studio research showed that 57% of the audience was female and 67% was over the age of 30.

Dropping down to fifth place in its fifth frame was "Spider-Man 3" which grossed an estimated $7.5M, off 48%. Sony has boosted its North American haul to $318.3M putting it at number 17 on the list of all-time domestic hits just ahead of the $317.6M of 2001’s "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone." A final gross of $330-340M seems likely. The international total for the third webslinger has climbed to $526M putting the global gross at an amazing $844M making it the biggest "Spider-Man" ever worldwide beating out the $822M of the first in the series. The first two installments made roughly 52% of their global box office from overseas markets, but "Spider-Man 3" has really exploded abroad with 62% of its current tally coming from outside of North America.

Overall, the box office was healthy this weekend. However, by comparing the top ten cume to the weekend after the Memorial Day holiday in recent years, it’s hard to detect that we have three juggernauts in the current marketplace. The $123.6M collected this weekend is slightly behind the same frames in 2006 and 2005. The tally is below those of 2004 and 2003 when big hits like "Harry Potter" and "Finding Nemo," respectively, opened in those years. The threequels all opened big, but are falling faster than even normal tentpole films do. And at their current trajectories, "Spider-Man 3" looks to remain the top-grossing of the trio domestically.

Fox Searchlight’s indie hit "Waitress" dropped one spot to sixth with an estimated $2M from 605 theaters for a mild $3,347 average. Despite adding 95 theaters, the film dropped by 34% and was probably affected by "Knocked Up" doing so well with young adult women. But the distributor is being patient knowing that good word-of-mouth will allow many more to eventually find it and will add another 100 screens on Friday. Cume stands at $9.5M.

Girl power was also behind the number seven film, the soccer drama "Gracie," which opened to a poor estimate of $1.4M. Averaging a weak $1,171 from 1,164 theaters, Picturehouse’s PG-13 pic played mostly to teen girls.

Crumbling 63% in its second weekend was the Ashley Judd horror flop "Bug" with an estimated $1.2M in eighth place. With a measly $6.1M in ten days, look for the Lionsgate thriller to quickly finish its run with only $8M.

Another fright flick collecting an estimated $1.2M over the weekend was "28 Weeks Later" which fell 53% and boosted the cume for Fox to $26.6M. Rounding out the top ten was the hit voyeur thriller "Disturbia" with an estimated $1.1M in its eighth frame, down 42%, for a $76.7M total for Paramount.

Opening in limited release was the Russian fantasy thriller "Day Watch" with an estimated $46,000 from only five theaters for a solid $9,265 average. The effects-driven sequel to "Night Watch" has grossed over $30M in Russia making it one of the all-time biggest blockbustrs in that market. Fox Searchlight will expand to eight more cities on Friday.

Three films were pushed out of the top ten this weekend. Buena Vista’s hit comedy "Wild Hogs" grossed an estimated $819,000, down 43%, and boosted its stellar total to $164.4M. A final domestic haul of $167M is likely. Universal’s "Georgia Rule" saw its female audience stolen by the studio’s new pregnancy comedy this weekend. The offscreen antics of its younger actress last week didn’t help sales either. "Rule" tumbled 69% to an estimated $581,000 raising the disappointing cume to only $18.1M. A $19M final seems set. New Line’s Anthony HopkinsRyan Gosling thriller "Fracture" grossed an estimated $500,000, off 60%, for a $38.1M total. Look for a decent $39M final.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $123.6M which was down 4% from last year when "The Break-Up" opened at number one with $39.2M; and off 2% from 2005 when "Madagascar" climbed into the top spot with $28.1M in its second weekend.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,