Sunday, August 20, 2006

Snakes at the &#%$#!-in' Box Office!


After months of "internet buzz", New Line's horror-thriller Snakes on a Plane, starring Mr. Samuel L. Jackson, opened this weekend, but ended up making far less money than most people expected. Opening in 3,555 theatres, the high concept thriller brought in an estimated $15.3 million over the weekend including Thursday night previews, which contributed a reported $1.4 million to that sum.

In what will likely end up as a fun bit of Monday morning controversy, some sources are reporting Thursday separately, meaning that "Snakes" wouldn't make enough to top Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby for the weekend, allowing the Will Ferrell comedy to be #1 for a third weekend in a row. Here at, we like to put a more positive spin on things, so we're calling Snakes as the #1 movie of the weekend in hopes that its weekend estimates are being underestimated. (Check back on Monday afternoon to see if and how things change once actual box office receipts are counted and everyone gets on the same page.)

Still, it puts a rather grim end to the story of a movie that received inordinate amounts of attention as soon as the title was announced last year. Earlier this year, director David R. Ellis (Final Destination 2) did some last minute reshoots to take the planned PG-13 film up to an R-rating at New Line's request after "internet fans" clamored for it. New Line also chose not to screen the film for critics, putting the quality of the movie into question until reviews started coming in on Friday. Obviously, the internet fans who spent hours of their lives making up their own posters, trailers and merchandise for the high concept horror movie must have lost interest by the time it came out. Either that or they just used the late August weekend to go on vacation rather than going to what looked like a B horror movie.

However you look at it, Sony's NASCAR comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby held up well in its third weekend after crossing the $100 million mark on Thursday. It grossed another $14.1 million over the weekend, bringing its total to $114.7 million. After three weekends, its the 12th highest grossing movie of the year and will probably end up in the Top 10 by next weekend.

Oliver Stone's 9/11 drama World Trade Center, starring Nicolas Cage, grossed $10.8 million in its second weekend, enough to hold onto third place as it brought its total box office receipts to $45 million.

Universal Pictures' college comedy Accepted, starring Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story's Justin Long, had a soft opening with $10.1 million in 2,914 locations, an average of $3,470, putting it in fourth place.

Dropping from second down to fifth, Touchstone Pictures' dance drama Step Up didn't do so well, taking a substantial 52% hit from its impressive debut to make $9.9 million in its second weekend. Its $39 million gross still makes for a nice profit based on its reported production budget of $12 million.

Paramount and Nickelodeon Films' animated comedy Barnyard: The Original Party Animals held up well in its third weekend, bringing in an additional $7.5 million--off just 22% from last weekend--to raise its box office total to $46 million.

Fox Searchlight's road comedy Little Miss Sunshine broke out nationwide into 691 theatres, where it grossed $5.6 million, more than twice its take last weekend and bringing its total gross to $12.7 million. (The movie was bought by Fox for a reported $10.5 million at this year's Sundance Film Festival.) Next weekend, it will expand even further into over 1,500 theatres, which should allow it to continue it successful run.

Dropping down to #8, Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest crossed the $400 million mark over the weekend, adding another $5 million. With $401 million in the bank, the hit action sequel should pass Spider-Man to become the sixth-highest grossing movie ever sometime later this week. Dead Man's Chest is the second-fastest film to reach the $400 million mark in 45 days. Only Shrek 2 did so faster in 43 days.

Hilary Duff and her sister Haylie starred in the MGM comedy Material Girls, which opened in 1,509 theatres, where it made an estimated $4.6 million, enough to open in ninth place.

Rounding out the top 10, Dimension Films' Pulse took a substantal drop in its second weekend, adding another $3.5 million to bring its total to $14.7 million.

Lionsgate's The Descent and Tim Allen's superhero comedy Zoom both had similar drops of 47%, each making roughly $2.4 million this weekend, for 11th and 12th place respectively.

Opening in limited release, Neil Burger's period mystery The Illusionist, starring Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti, grossed an estimated $925 thousand in 51 theatres in select cities, a respectable average of $18 thousand per site. Plans are to expand it nationwide over Labor Day weekend on September 1.

Meanwhile, Bart Freundlich's relationship comedy Trust the Man, distributed by Fox Searchlight, opened in 38 theatres in select cities, where it grossed roughly $176 thousand, a weak average of $4,600 per theatre.

IFC Films' movie based on Charles Bukowski's Factotum, starring Matt Dillon, opened in 6 theatres in New York and Los Angeles where it made $60 thousand.