Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Rock Defeats Heartbreak Kid To Defend Box Office Title

Cooking up another box office win.

by | October 7, 2007 | Comments

Ben Stiller‘s new comedy

The Heartbreak Kid
stumbled in its opening frame and
forced the overall box office to plunge to the worst October weekend in eight
years. Incumbent family comedy
The Game Plan
posted a strong sophomore hold and
retained its position as North America’s most popular film. But two other new
releases did nothing to energize the multiplexes as the top ten films together
grossed what just the top three pictures did a year ago on this same weekend.
The calendar may say October but the dismal box office grosses make it seem like
September never ended.

Surprising industry watchers once again, Disney’s
The Game Plan
held onto the
number one spot for a second time grossing an estimated $16.3M for a slim 29%

decline. That gave
The Rock‘s first entry into the world of kid’s movies a solid
$42.8M in only ten days allowing the PG-rated comedy to already surpass the
grosses of his last two films

Gridiron Gang
($38.4M) and
($28M). All three pics were number one openers. Last weekend, many expected
Game Plan to
debut in second place behind
The Kingdom
while this weekend
Heartbreak was
widely seen as debuting on top. In both cases the quarterback daddy flick
swiped the top spot and with little family competition in the weeks ahead, a
trip to the $100M club could be in the works.


Disney is still benefiting from the fall season’s shocking lack of product for
families. For the third consecutive weekend, seven of the top ten films carried
R ratings
giving parents few other options for their children. The studio has virtually no
foes to deal with until
Jerry Seinfeld‘s animated pic
Bee Movie hits theaters on

November 2. Game Plan‘s second weekend drop was even smaller than the 40%
decline that the studio’s
Vin Diesel family film
The Pacifier experienced in
March 2005 on its way to a stunning $113.1M tally. The Game Plan now looks
certain to surpass the $90.5M of 2002’s The
Scorpion King
to become The
Rock’s highest grossing film in a lead role.


The weekend’s big disappointment came from the Ben Stiller-Farrelly brothers

The Heartbreak Kid
which debuted in second place with an
estimated $14M from 3,229 theaters. Averaging a mediocre $4,345 per site, the
R-rated film marked the first reteaming of the actor with the filmmakers since
1998 sleeper smash

There’s Something About Mary
which grossed a stunning $176.5M
that year. Heartbreak was universally expected to open at number one
and was thought to have the potential to capture at least $20M in opening
weekend business for DreamWorks and Paramount. The budget was more than $60M,

according to the studios.


For Stiller, Heartbreak‘s opening was half the size of the bows of his other
recent comedies like
Night at the Museum
Starsky and Hutch
($28.1M), and Along Came Polly ($27.7M). Those were PG or PG-13 films but the
comedian was still expected to draw a large crowd this weekend. However
for the Farrelly brothers, the performance was better than the $12.4M of their
last pic
in 2005 and the $9.4M of 2003’s
on You
. Reviews were

mostly negative which is par for the course with these types of comedies.


The Heartbreak Kid put Stiller’s box office power to the test and the results
were discouraging. Most of the comedian’s hits feature other big stars to help
bring in
a paying audience. This time Stiller was the only major name and audiences did
not bite. In fact the launch was very similar to that of rival R-rated romantic
Good Luck Chuck which debuted to $13.7M and a better $5,227 average just two
weeks ago. That film offered some star wattage from both genders with
Dane Cook and
Jessica Alba.

Universal’s Middle East drama
The Kingdom

dropped 46% in its second weekend to an estimated $9.3M and placed third. The
Jamie Foxx pic has taken in
$31.4M in ten days and should find its way to $50-55M. Sony’s action-horror
Resident Evil: Extinction
fell 47% to an estimated $4.3M and pushed its

17-day cume to $43.5M.


Failing to find an audience on opening weekend was the fantasy adventure film
The Seeker: The Dark is Rising
which bowed to an estimated $3.7M from a
very wide 3,141 theaters for a dismal $1,186 average. The PG-rated pic from the
new venture between Fox and Walden Media targeted young boys but got
nowhere at the box office. Seeker‘s debut was even worse than the $5M launch of
Dragon Wars from just two weeks ago which went after the same audience.
But thanks to a sluggish marketplace, Seeker‘s weak opening still landed the
film in the top five even though its nearly $40M budget will take much time to

The Lionsgate comedy
Good Luck Chuck  grossed an estimated $3.5M, off 44%, for a
$29.1M sum. The dance drama
Feel the Noise
delivered a seventh place
debut with an estimated $3.4M from just 1,015 theaters. Averaging a mild $3,350
per site, the PG-13 film played to urban teens and came from the new
Sony/BMG film division.

A trio of R-rated films rounded out the top ten. The long-lasting Western
3:10 to Yuma
once again enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten sliding only 28%
an estimated $3M in its fifth frame for a solid cume of $48.6M for Lionsgate.
The Warner Bros. vigilante thriller
The Brave One
dropped 39% to an estimated

$2.3M giving
Jodie Foster
and her gun $34.3M to date.
Mr. Woodcock
claimed the
ten spot for New Line with an estimated $2M, down 31%, and a new total of

The weekend’s most notable fireworks came in limited release as the increasingly
crowded arthouse scene saw some red hot numbers from awards hopefuls.

George Clooney
led the way with his legal thriller

Michael Clayton
which bowed
in only 15 theaters but grossed an estimated $704,000 for an astounding
$46,933 average. Powered by strong reviews and starpower from the Oscar-winning
actor, the R-rated film is hoping to keep the momentum going when it
expands nationally on Friday into more than 2,400 theaters.

A pair of acclaimed filmmakers enjoyed encouraging sophomore expansions with
their latest efforts and delivered the next best averages.
Wes Anderson‘s comedy
The Darjeeling
widened from two New York houses to 19 locations in seven
markets and grossed an estimated $553,000 for a powerful $29,099
average. Fox Searchlight will continue to open in more cities over the next two
weekends before going nationwide into more than 800 playdates at the end of the

month. Ang Lee‘s NC-17 romantic thriller
Lust, Caution also held up very well as
it entered new cities. The Focus release went from a solo Manhattan house to
17 venues and collected an estimated $369,000 for a potent $21,696 average.
Totals stand at $$477,000 for Lust and $781,000 for Darjeeling.


Also expanding and still generating good averages in their third frames were
Sean Penn‘s
Into the Wild
Brad Pitt‘s

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
. Paramount Vantage widened
Wild from 33 to 135 houses and
grossed an estimated $1.3M for an impressive $9,593 average. Warner
Bros. made a leap from five to 61 locations with Jesse and made off with an
estimated $408,000 for a respectable $6,689 average. Cumes are $2.5M and
$746,000 respectively and each film will continue to add more cities and
theaters in the weeks ahead.

Not faring well in its national expansion was the drama The
Jane Austen Book Club
which grossed an estimated $1.5M from 1,232 sites for a weak $1,247
average. Last weekend, the Sony Classics release averaged $4,700 from only 41
venues. Total sits at $2M.

Three films fell out of the top ten over the weekend. The Focus mob thriller
Eastern Promises

dipped 33% to an estimated $2M giving the
David Cronenberg


$14.3M overall. A decent $20M final seems likely which would put it about
one-third below the $31.5M of the director’s last film
A History of Violence

also starred
Viggo Mortensen

Sony’s Beatles-themed musical feature
Across the
continued to have
great legs easing a mere 8% in its fourth outing to an estimated $1.9M. With $8M

in the bank from limited release, the Julie Taymor-directed pic goes wide on
Friday into more than 700 sites. Universe joins the music-themed films

as movies with some of the best legs at the box office over the last
several months. But it was a sad tune for Universal’s teen comedy
Sydney White

which tumbled 49% to an estimated $1.3M for a weak total of just $10.2M. Look
for a poor $13M finish.

The top ten films grossed a disappointing estimate of $61.9M which was down a
substantial 37% from last year when
debuted in first place with $26.9M; and off 23% from 2005 when

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
opened in the top spot with

Author: Gitesh Pandya,