This was probably not the best movie weekend to coincide with The Academy Awards, which honored Hollywood’s best of 2004. Three of this weekend’s wide debuts were all below 17% on the Tomatometer. Two of them didn’t even have the guts to be screened for critics. However, one of them did claim the top spot at this weekend’s box office. As “Diary of a Mad, Black Woman” shows, no matter how bad the film, it’s probably better to screen it to critics anyways because of the additional publicity it’ll receive from critics’ reviews. “Diary of a Mad, Black Woman,” also has the extra benefit of Oprah’s recommendation on Jay Leno.
“Diary of a Mad Black Woman” rejected "Hitch" from top spot at the box office this Oscars weekend with an estimated $22.7M on only half the theaters. It’s per theater average of $15,307 is nearly three times that of the runner-up within films on the top 12. Lions Gate Films’s strategy to open it semi-wide paid off handsomely. Based on an immensely popular play by Tyler Perry, critics thought the film’s mix of slapstick, melodrama and spirituality lacks a consistent tone. It has a Tomatometer of just 17%.
Keanu Reeves’s demonic thriller “Constantine” placed 3rd with an estimated $11.8M, off an ominous 60% from its debut last weekend. If it doesn’t hold up well in the following weeks, development of a sequel announced last week after its $34.6M Presidents’ Day weekend debut might be halted. Its total after two weeks is $50.8M.
In 4th and 5th place are a pair of films which debuted without critics’ advance screenings.
“Cursed” grossed an estimated $9.6M. It’s not bad, but just disappointing when you consider that it’s writen by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven, the duo who revitalize the horror genre with the Scream films. Critics thought its attempt to cater to a PG-13 audience diluted the film of any scares and suspense. It has a cursed 13% on the Tomatometer.
“Man of the House,” starring Tommy Lee Jones and Cedric the Entertainer, placed 5th with $9M. Again, it’s not great, but not bad when you consider that Revolution Studios sneaked this by critics and onto the unsuspecting public.
Rounding out the rest of the top 12 are this weekend’s big Oscar winner “Million Dollar Baby” with $7.2M ($64.7M total), “Because of Winn-Dixie” with $6.8M ($22.2M total), “Are We There Yet” with $4M ($76.4M total), “The Aviator” with $3.8M ($93.8M total), “Son of the Mask” with $3.8M ($14M total), “Sideways” with $3.5M ($53M total), and “The Wedding Date” with $2.1M ($28.9M total).
Because of the 77th Annual Academy Awards show this weekend, the total gross for the top 12 films fell 24% from the same weekend last year when “The Passion of the Christ” topped the charts with $83.8M. Alright, maybe “The Passion of the Christ” has just a little bit more to do with this weekend’s slump than the Oscars.