Sunday, August 27, 2006

Football Drama's Invincible at Box Office


The last weekend in August is never a very good time to release a new movie. Schools are starting back up in some areas, while older folks are using the last few weeks of summer to take their vacations. It's also often thought of as a dumping ground for movies that studios don't know where else to place, something discovered by two out of the four new movies unleashed on Friday.

Disney's strategy to release the football drama Invincible before the start of the football season paid off well, as it had a solid debut at #1 with an estimated $17 million, twice the amount made by the movie in second place this weekend. Starring Mark Wahlberg as Philadelphia Eagles' Vince Papale, the movie opened in less than 3,000 theatres, but averaged roughly $5,800 per theatre, making it the third consecutive hit for Disney, who is having a great summer despite recently announcing that it would be cutting back on the number of movies it produces next year.

Will Ferrell's NASCAR comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby continues to bring in audiences, making another $8 million this weekend to bring its total to $127 million after four weekends.

As impressive as it is for Sony's comedy to remain in the Top 2 for four consecutive weeks, the success story of the summer has to be Fox Searchlight's Little Miss Sunshine. Bought for $10.5 million at the Sundance Film Festival, the indie road comedy has successfully expanded across the country thanks to positive word-of-mouth. This weekend, it doubled its theatres and brought in an estimated $7.5 million in 1,430 theatres, enough for it to pull a four place jump up to third place for the weekend. It has grossed $23 million to date and should continue bringing people in through Labor Day and the slower month of September.

Despite opening in over 2,900 theatres on Friday, The Broken Lizard's Beerfest, their first movie distributed by Warner Bros, only pulled in rougly $6.5 million over the weekend after making $2.7 million on Friday, settling for 4th place this weekend. In three days, the movie made more than the Broken Lizard's last movie Club Dread made in total theatrically, but it made less opening weekend than their 2002 comedy Super Troopers, which opened in a thousand fewer theatres. Still, the movie only cost $12.5 million to make and should eventually be profitable for a studio that has not been having a very good summer.

Taking advantage of the weaker new releases, Universal Pictures' college comedy Accepted, starring Justin Long, picked up a bit of slack, remaining in fifth place with an additional $6.5 million in its second weekend, a negligible drop of 35%. It has already doubled its opening weekend with a total of $21 million.

Sixth and seventh place were picked up by two of August's stronger films, Oliver Stone's 9/11 drama World Trade Center and Touchstone's surprise hit Step Up , which grossed $6.4 and $6.2 million respectively. Both movies crossed the $50 million mark in their third weekends with Stone's film being ahead by a little more than $5 million.

Atlanta hip hop duo Outkast debuted their first feature film Idlewild into less than 1,000 theatres, where it brought in $5.9 million in business to take eighth place. Its $6,000 average per theatre was the highest for any movie in the Top 12.

After a disappointing opening, New Line's horror-thriller Snakes on a Plane took a major hit in its second weekend, dropping 57% and plunging from #1 to #9, something almost unheard of, especially for a movie that seemed to get good reviews and positive word-of-mouth. So far, the Samuel L. Jackson thriller has grossed $26 million total.

Paramount and Nickelodeon Films' animated comedy Barnyard: The Original Party Animals closed off the Top 10 with $5.4 million, bringing its own total to $54.7 million.

Dropping out of the Top 10, Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the highest grossing movie of the year, added another $4 million to its total, pushing it past Spider-Man to become the sixth highest grossing movie ever with $407.5 million. Besides being the biggest hit of the summer, it's also Disney's highest grossing movie ever.

Not helping their tragic showing for Snakes on a Plane, New Line's adaptation of Thomas Rockwell's book How to Eat Fried Worms made just under $4 million in its opening weekend, averaging less per theatre than many of the returning movies.

Neil Burger's period mystery The Illusionist, starring Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti, added 93 theatres this weekend, building on its opening weekend word-of-mouth to make $1.8 million, its average of over $12,500 being the highest for any movie this weekend. Its relatively new distributor, Yari Film Group Releasing, will expand the movie nationwide into over 800 theatres next weekend after having grossed $3.2 million in limited release.

Also this weekend, Sony Classics opened the indie thriller The Quiet, starring Elisha Cuthbert and Edie Falco, but it only made $28.7 thousand in 7 theatres, a dismal average of $4,100, which isn't good for its planned expansion into 300 theatres next weekend.