Monday, December 19, 2005

Kong Climbs to the Top


The big new movie this weekend was Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong, released by Universal Pictures into over 3,500 theatres on Wednesday. After a slow start with only $16 million in two days, the film picked up steam over the weekend, earning just over $50 million, an average of about $14 thousand per theatre. While its five-day total of $66 million was nearly $10 million less than The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings grossed during the same pre-holiday period four years ago, it will be the fourth biggest December opening movie ever if those numbers stick. Kong is expected to continue to bring in word-of-mouth business over the holidays. Kong also earned $80.1 million from 55 foreign territories over its first five days for a worldwide total of $146.3 million.

After a great opening weekend, the second biggest December opening ever, Walt Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, directed by Andrew (Shrek) Adamson, dropped 52% to make way for Kong. Its second weekend take of $31 million was still respectable, as it brought its total up to $112.5 million in just ten days.

Opening in third place, Thomas Bezucha's dramedy The Family Stone, starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Diane Keaton, grossed an estimated $12.7 million in 2,466 theatres, an average of $5,160 per theatre. Its Christmas themes should help it continue to do well over the holidays, especially among women.

Warner Bros. took the fourth and fifth spots with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Stephen Gaghan's Syriana, respectively. The fourth Potter film earned roughly $5.9 million in its fifth weekend, bringing its total gross over the $250 million mark, where it should be firmly set as the second highest grossing film of 2005. It also passed the gross of the third installment, Prisoner of Azkaban, to become the third highest grossing Potter movie to date. The political thriller Syriana took a bit of a tumble in its second weekend in nationwide release with $5.4 million, a 53% dropoff from last weekend. It has earned an estimated $22.3 million.

In sixth place, the Johnny Cash biodrama Walk the Line, with Golden Globe nominees Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, continued to do decent business, adding another $3.6 million to its impressive $82.5 million gross. The Dennis Quaid family comedy Yours, Mine and Ours grossed roughly $3.4 million to bring its total gross to $45 million, essentially making back its production budget in its fourth weekend.

After getting into the Top 10 with its impressive opening weekend per-theatre average, the Ang Lee cowboy romance Brokeback Mountain expanded into 64 more theatres nationwide, where it grossed roughly $2.3 million, enough to break into the Top 10 in eighth place. Its estimated average of $31 thousand per theatre is expected to be the highest for the weekend.

Paramount Pictures' big screen version of the animated series Aeon Flux, starring Charlize Theron, had another huge drop-off in its third weekend, hanging on to the Top 10 by its fingernails with $1.7 million.

Rounding out the Top 12 was another movie expanding into less than 100 theatres, as Sony's Memoirs of a Geisha added another $1.2 million to its gross in just 52 theatres, averaging around $23 thousand per site. It will expand into over 1,000 theatres nationwide next Friday, December 23.

Opening in just six theatres in six cities, Mel Brooks' musical comedy The Producers, featuring most of the Broadway cast plus Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell, earned $156 thousand in its opening weekend, a less than spectacular average of $26,000 per theatre. (By comparison, Rob Marshall's Chicago averaged that same amount when it opened in 77 theatres three years ago.) But the film isn't quite down and out, and it will expand nationwide on Christmas Day, where it will try to grab the attention of those outside the big cities who may never have had a chance to see the original Broadway show.