Johnny Depp made this weekend’s four new releases walk the plank as his megablockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest became the first film of the year to spend three consecutive frames at number one and zoomed past the $300M mark in record time.
Among the new offerings debuting in theaters, Sony’s animated film Monster House posted the best results opening in second place while M. Night Shyamalan‘s latest supernatural thriller Lady in the Water stumbled in its first weekend settling for third place. The comedies Clerks II from Kevin Smith and My Super Ex-Girlfriend from Ivan Reitman debuted with more modest single-digit results outside the top five. Overall ticket sales were a healthy amount ahead of last year’s.
Sailing past more box office records with ease, Pirates grossed an estimated $35M in its third weekend to remain the top choice among summer moviegoers across North America. Off a moderate 44%, the Disney smash became the fastest film to break the $300M mark when it surpassed the milestone on Saturday, its 16th day of release. Star Wars Episode III previously held the record doing the deed in 17 days last summer. Pirates now stands at $321.7M after a mere 17 days and has soared up to number 16 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters ahead of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone which grossed $317.6M in 2001.
Dead Man’s Chest also entered a very exclusive club of films that reached the triple-century mark while still at number one. It joins only 1982’s E.T., 1997’s Titanic, and 2003’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The third weekend hold for Pirates was commendable showing that the high seas adventure is not falling apart like many action sequels and instead still pleasing audiences. It now looks to be on course to reach $400M in box office treasure.
Sony generated a solid debut for the animated film Monster House which opened in second place with an estimated $23M from 3,553 locations. The PG-rated tale about three kids who discover an evil home averaged an impressive $6,473 per theater. Oscar-winning directors Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis served as executive producers and had their names used prominently in the marketing. As the first toon for kids in over a month, Monster scored with children and parents who made up the bulk of the audience. The studio released the $75M production in 163 3-D theaters which collected $2.6M of the overall gross for a sizzling $16,012 average. Reviews were mostly positive.
Suffering his worst opening since becoming an A-list director, M. Night Shyamalan saw his latest thriller Lady in the Water struggle in its debut grossing an estimated $18.2M from 3,235 theaters. The PG-13 film about a mysterious creature from the water who must return to her world averaged $5,629 per site. The opening was less than half the size of the $50.7M bow of Shyamalan’s last film The Village and less than one-third of the $60.1M that his previous film Signs took in when it opened in 2002. Critics panned Lady which was promoted as being a "bedtime story" as the Oscar-nominated filmmaker earned the worst reviews of his career.
Shyamalan’s last four thrillers were all released by Disney but after The Village, the studio passed on the opportunity to make Lady. The project found itself over at Warner Bros. Village opened impressively based on the brand name of Shyamalan, however negative word-of-mouth led to it crashing 68% on the second weekend and quickly disappearing soon after. In fact, its final domestic tally of $114.2M remains the lowest gross ever for any film opening north of $50M. Many former fans may have decided to pass on his follow-up which was Lady. It could be rough seas ahead for Water as well since its Saturday sales were flat compared to Friday’s. Plus, it has scored a weak B- average grade from over 3,000 users of Yahoo Movies which means ticket buyers have not been very thrilled.
Universal’s hit comedy You, Me, and Dupree dropped a moderate 41% in its second weekend and placed fourth with an estimated $12.8M. With a solid $45.3M in ten days, the $54M picture should find its way to a sturdy $70-75M. Fellow sophomore comedy Little Man saw a larger drop and fell 49% to an estimated $11M for a total of $40.6M in ten days. Sony’s $64M Wayans brothers film looks to find its way to $60-65M.
Fans showed support for Kevin Smith whose comedy sequel Clerks II debuted in sixth place with an estimated $9.6M from 2,150 theaters. Averaging a good $4,477 per site, the R-rated story of a pair of slackers still doing little with their lives in their thirties opened a bit weaker than Smith’s 2001 late-summer pic Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back which bowed to $11M on its way to $30.1M. Ticket sales for Clerks II fell a sharp 18% on Saturday from Friday indicating that Smith’s loyal fans rushed out on opening day and that there may not be much of an audience left for future weeks. The film earned favorable reviews and was released by MGM and The Weinstein Company.
Fox saw a disappointing opening for its romantic comedy My Super Ex-Girlfriend which debuted to an estimated $8.7M from 2,702 theaters for a mild $3,220 average. The PG-13 film stars Uma Thurman as a woman who is secretly a super hero that exacts revenge on her ex-boyfriend (Luke Wilson) for dumping her. Reviews were mixed for the Ivan Reitman-directed pic. Studio research showed that the audience was split evenly between men and women with those age 25 and older making up 59% of the crowd. With so many other comedies in the marketplace from Owen Wilson, the Wayans brothers, Kevin Smith, Meryl Streep, and Adam Sandler, plus Pirates still raking it in, audiences found no special reason to spend money on Ex-Girlfriend.
Superman Returns dipped 39% in its fourth flight to an estimated $7.5M and pushed its cume to $178.4M. The pricey Warner Bros. film is still ahead of the $171.9M that its last super hero film Batman Begins collected after the same amount of time. The Caped Crusader pic, however, held up better grossing $10M in its fourth frame. The $200M domestic mark still seems reachable for Superman. Overseas, the international cume climbed to $110M.
Meryl Streep’s hit comedy The Devil Wears Prada enjoyed another solid hold suffering the smallest decline in the top ten. The Fox release took in an estimated $7.4M, off only 29%, to lift its sum to $97.6M. Devil opened on the same weekend as Superman Returns with a much smaller gross, but is now doing nearly identical weekend business.
Disney bookended the top ten with its Pixar smash Cars which dropped 37% to an estimated $4.9M in its seventh lap. The animated hit has now grossed $229.4M putting it at number 49 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters after X-Men: The Last Stand which opened two weeks earlier and has taken in $232.8M to date.
The weekend’s four new releases tossed a quartet of summer pictures out of the top ten. Adam Sandler’s latest winner Click grossed an estimated $4M in its fifth frame, off 45%, for a total of $128.2M. The $83M Sony title should finish with $135-140M. Fellow comedy Nacho Libre with Jack Black tumbled 69% to an estimated $505,000 for a cume of $78.7M to date. Paramount looks to end its run with just under $80M.
Keanu Reeves grossed an estimated $661,000 for his sci-fi toon A Scanner Darkly and an estimated $625,000 for his sci-fi romance The Lake House this weekend. Warner Independent Pictures has taken in $3.2M with Scanner and is shooting for the $5M mark. Parent company Warner Bros. has grossed $50.7M with its Sandra Bullock tale and is heading for $52M.
The global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth remains a popular summer flick slipping just 14% to an estimated $1M in its ninth weekend. Paramount Vantage has collected $18.8M to date and is enjoying remarkable momentum.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $138.2M which was up 12% from last year when Johnny Depp’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remained at number one for the second time with $28.3M; and up 2% from 2004 when Matt Damon‘s The Bourne Supremacy opened in the top spot with $52.5M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com