Box Office Guru

Box Office Wrapup: Women Power "Break-Up" to #1

by | June 4, 2006 | Comments

Nosy moviegoers just couldn’t stay away from a high-profile lovers quarrel as the anti-romantic comedy The Break-Up starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston surprised the industry this weekend by opening at number one, shoving the comic book juggernaut X-Men: The Last Stand into second place in only its second weekend.

The mutant sequel was widely expected to remain atop the North American charts. The only other new face in the top ten was the global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth which expanded and jumped into the number nine slot while still in limited release. Overall, the box office remained healthy with the top four choices gobbling up most of the business.

Jen and Vince attracted millions of fans to theaters with The Break-Up which debuted with an estimated $38.1M over the weekend beating all expectations. Universal launched the date movie in 3,070 locations and averaged a stellar $12,395 giving the studio its best opening yet this year. It was also the third biggest debut ever for a romantic comedy trailing the $43.1M of Hitch and the $39.9M of 50 First Dates which both premiered just days before Valentine’s Day. Women fueled the business for Break-Up. Studio research showed that a whopping 67% of the audience was female while the crowd was evenly split between those over and under the age of 30. Vaughn and Aniston play a couple that breaks up, but still decides to live in the same condo together.

Produced for $52M, The Break-Up sparked lots of media attention over the past year because of Aniston’s split from ex-husband Brad Pitt and her new relationship with Vaughn. Curiosity seemed to attract the former Friends star’s core audience of young women while men were far less interested. Universal’s marketing pushed the starpower and the lack of any other new wide releases kept the attention on Break-Up. Plus, the marketplace has not offered any star-driven films aimed at women in several weeks. Critics, however, gave little support with many panning the film finding it lacking in both romance and comedy. Aniston scored the second biggest opening of her career after 2003’s Bruce Almighty ($68M) while Vaughn enjoyed his third largest after 1997’s The Lost World ($72.1M) and last summer’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith ($50.3M). The Break-Up, however, marks new career highs for each actor in a leading role.

After a record-breaking Memorial Day weekend opener, X-Men: The Last Stand crumbled in its second weekend plunging 67% to second place with an estimated $34.4M. After ten days of release, the mutant sequel has hauled in a staggering $175.7M domestically. Most industry watchers had expected the super hero pic to remain at number one this weekend, but a stronger-than-expected opening by Break-Up coupled with a larger-than-expected decline for X-Men led to a second place finish. Given that loyal fans all rushed to the theaters on the debut frame and the added holiday boost, a steep drop was widely anticipated, but a drop of two-thirds was especially high. Subsequent weeks should stabilize a bit, but based on its trajectory, the third X-Men film looks to be headed to a domestic tally of $230-240M which would still make it the biggest hit of the trilogy.

Holding steady in third place once again this weekend was the animated film Over the Hedge which slipped only 24% to an estimated $20.6M in its third outing. After 17 days, Paramount has collected an impressive $112.4M with the DreamWorks production. After three weeks of having the family market virtually to itself, Hedge will face some stiff competiton next weekend when Disney and Pixar race into theaters with Cars.

Losing a reasonable 43% of its audience in its third weekend, The Da Vinci Code ranked fourth with an estimated $19.3M. That pushed the 17-day total to a stunning $172.7M making the religious thriller the year’s third biggest domestic hit behind Fox’s Ice Age and X-Men sequels. Overseas, Da Vinci continues to lead the box office for the third straight weekend delivering sizzling results. The Ron Howard-directed smash grossed an estimated $51M, down 44% from last weekend, boosting the international tally to a towering $409M. With a sensational $582M in global grosses (70% of which is from outside North America), The Da Vinci Code will shatter the $600M mark by the end of the week.

The top four films ruled the weekend accounting for 88% of all money spent on the top ten films. All other players in the marketplace grossed under $5M each.

Dropping only 33% and finishing fifth for the frame was the spy sequel Mission: Impossible III with an estimated $4.7M which pushed Paramount’s domestic cume to $122.7M. For the fourth consecutive weekend, the ocean liner disaster film Poseidon followed right behind Tom Cruise’s actioner and dropped 40% to an estimated $3.4M. Warner Bros. has taken in just $51.7M thus far.

For the first time in five years, the month of May ended without any of its releases hitting the $200M mark. But while none of this year’s early summer contenders has come close to last year’s Star Wars Episode III which had amazingly smashed through the $300M mark at this point, collectively the hits have managed to measure up to 2005. The aggregate gross of the top five May films this year is $635M which is up 2% from this same point a year ago. Instead of flocking to one giant megahit, moviegoers have been spreading the same amount of money across a collection of popular films.

Sony’s hit kidpic RV continued to hold up well slipping only 21% in its sixth weekend to an estimated $3.3M. The Robin Williams film has taken in $61.8M to date. Lionsgate witnessed a surprisingly strong hold for its horror entry See No Evil which dipped 26% and grossed an estimated $2M. Total stands at $12.4M.

Proving that it is more than just a blue-state hit, Al Gore‘s global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth expanded into major markets and hit the top ten grossing an estimated $1.3M from only 77 theaters. The Paramount Vantage release averaged a stunning $17,299 over the weekend and raised its cume to $1.9M after bowing last week in just four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. This Friday, Truth widens to the Top 25 markets with about 150 total theaters before going national on June 16 in 450-600 locations.

The PG-rated film has quickly nabbed the title of must-see summer doc this year and hopes to follow in the footsteps of last year’s March of the Penguins and 2004’s Fahrenheit 9/11 as non-fiction films that crossed over to become pop culture events. Those films rank as the top-grossing documentaries ever with $77.4M and $119.2M, respectively. This weekend, the former Vice President’s environmental pic became the first film of the year to enter the top ten while playing in fewer than 200 theaters.

Rounding out the top ten was Lindsay Lohan‘s comedy Just My Luck with an estimated $825,000, down a steep 58%, for a cume to date of $15.6M.

Break-Up and Inconvenient Truth bumped two spring films out of the top ten. Universal’s controversial 9/11 thriller United 93 dropped 43% to an estimated $464,000 after spending five weeks in the top ten. The $15M film has grossed $30.6M to date and should collect a bit more before ending its theatrical run. Fox’s animated sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown has spent eight of its ten weekends in the top ten and is now headed for the finish line grossing over $191M to date. The PG-rated hit remains the top-grossing film of 2006 thus far and has unearthed more than $625M worldwide.

Opening this weekend in limited release was the Lionsgate sports drama Peaceful Warrior which took in an estimated $77,000 from ten sites for a solid $7,700 average. Also debuting, but with weaker results, was the Korean action film Typhoon with an estimated $48,000 from 24 theaters. The Paramount Vantage release attacked nine markets and averaged a dull $2,009.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $127.9M which was up 2% from last year when Madagascar climbed into the number one spot with $28.1M; but down 30% from 2004 when Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban opened in the top slot with a June record $93.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com