Another week, another horror film. That’s the mantra in Hollywood at the moment. Among the four new films going into wide release this weekend are Sony’s terror tale "Vacancy" which represents the fourth scary flick in three weeks to hit the multiplexes.

Also debuting are New Line’s murder drama "Fracture," the Warner Bros. romantic drama "In the Land of Women," and the British action comedy "Hot Fuzz" all looking to help moviegoers kill some time as they await the return of the webslinger.

Sony offers a new batch of frights in its latest horror pic "Vacancy" starring Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale as a couple stranded at a dirty motel where occupants are filmed while being brutally killed. The studio is making the right move by selling the R-rated film on concept first, and starpower second. The marketing has been creepy and effective plus the plot is different and appealing. Horror fans are likely to take interest. But moviegoers have been bombarded with scary movies so much in recent weeks that you’d think it was October. Plus the harsh rating will keep out some of the younger teens who may want in on this action. Also a wildcard will be this week’s massacre at Virginia Tech as college students may not be in the mood at this moment for a movie about senseless killings.

Most of the business will depend on marketing and the campaign has been solid. It is very difficult nowadays to set your horror flick apart from all the other ones but "Vacancy" has done it right. Competition from "Disturbia" will be a factor, but older teens and young adults who like a good scare should line up in decent spring-like numbers. "Vacancy" opens in 2,551 theaters on Friday and could pull in around $14M over three days.


Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson are forced to snoop in "Vacancy."

Recent Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling plays an assistant district attorney prosecuting a man who murdered his wife, played by Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins, in the new courtroom thriller "Fracture." The New Line release will play to a mature adult audience which puts it in a strong position given all the films targeting teens and young adults at the moment. Both actors are well-respected, however they are not necessarily box office powers. Hopkins has done well when he’s playing a cannibal, but otherwise his track record is spotty when anchoring a film with no other major commercial draws. Reviews have been somewhat positive which could help a tad. "Fracture" debuts in about 2,400 theaters and may collect roughly $12M over the frame.


Ryan Gosling wishes there was a time limit in "Fracture."

Warner Bros. goes after the ladies with the weekend’s only PG-13 entry "In the Land of Women." Written and directed by actor-turned-filmmaker Jonathan Kasdan, the romantic drama stars "The O.C."’s Adam Brody along with Meg Ryan and Olympia Dukakis in the story of a young man who learns the complexities of the other sex while caring for his ailing granny. Male appeal will be close to zero. That means that "Disturbia," which is playing very well with teenage girls, will be a major competitor here. Aside from that, there aren’t too many direct threats however the overall marketing push has not been very loud on "Women." Landing in 2,155 theaters, "In the Land of Women" might capture about $8M for the weekend.


An Adam Brody sandwich, courtesy of "In the Land of Women."

The creative team behind 2004’s cult hit "Shaun of the Dead" is back with its take on cop buddy flicks with "Hot Fuzz." The R-rated action comedy finds an overachieving London cop being transferred to a seemingly peaceful countryside village before stumbling upon a series of mysterious killings. Young men will make up the core audience. But through video and cable, "Shaun" has built up a loyal fan following which is likely to give this new entry a try. Add in positive buzz from its blockbuster release in the U.K. earlier this year (it’s already grossed $48M outside of North America) plus glowing reviews from U.S. critics and it is sure to pack a punch in the per-theater average race. Holding it back will be the moderate wide release in 825 locations. In 2004, "Shaun" debuted in 607 sites and grossed $3.3M for a solid $5,487 average. "Hot Fuzz" should be hotter and could arrest about $6M this weekend.


The dandy "Shaun of the Dead" gang is back in "Hot Fuzz."

Following its surprisingly potent number one opening, Shia LaBeouf‘s thriller "Disturbia" will face some hefty competition from "Vacancy" which also goes after those seeking a scary flick. A 45% drop could be in order giving the Paramount title around $12M for the frame and a ten-day tally of $39M.

Will Ferrell‘s hit comedy "Blades of Glory" looks set to break through the $100M mark this weekend. A 35% decline would give the Paramount release about $9M for the frame and $102M after 24 days. Disney’s animated film "Meet the Robinsons" has been holding up very well and with another weekend of mostly R-rated new entries, look for another slim dip. The 3D toon might slide by just 25% to roughly $9M boosting the cume to $84M. An invitation to the century club is in the mail.

LAST YEAR: Spooky flick "Silent Hill" topped the charts opening to a strong $20.2M on its way to $47M for Sony. The Weinstein Company’s spoof hit "Scary Movie 4" tumbled 58% in its second weekend to $16.8M for the runnerup spot. Debuting in third was the Michael Douglas actioner "The Sentinel" with $14.4M before finishing with $36.3M for Fox. The studio’s toon sequel "Ice Age: The Meltdown" followed with $13.3M in its fourth frame while competing animated entry "The Wild" rounded out the top five with $8.3M. The weekend’s other new release, the Hugh Grant comedy "American Dreamz," bowed poorly in ninth with $3.7M on its way to just $7.2M for Universal.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This weekend Hollywood just doesn’t know its limits. Six new releases will jam into an already crowded marketplace on Friday trying to connect with spring moviegoers.

That makes for a whopping 20 new films over a four-week ultracompetitive period. This weekend’s ticket buyers will not have enough time or money to see them all, especially in a relatively weak playing period like mid-April. Friday the 13th may indeed be a terrifying day for the accountants behind some of these freshman flicks.

Call it "Catwoman" vs. "Hudson Hawk." Sony unleashes its latest star-driven thriller "Perfect Stranger" which finds Halle Berry playing an investigative reporter following an ad mogul (Bruce Willis) who may have killed her friend. The R-rated pic boasts the most star wattage of any new film this weekend and that will mean something at the cash registers. The actor combo is unique, appealing, and diverse enough to bring in two different audiences which is always good for business. Poor reviews probably won’t mean too much to the box office. Sony’s marketing push has been commendable and with Spartans, Ninja Turtles, and figure skaters ruling the charts over the last five weeks, many moviegoers will be ready to shift over to this type of film. "Perfect Stranger" invades 2,661 theaters and stands a chance of hitting number one with around $15M.


"At least ‘Hudson Hawk’ didn’t make RT’s ‘Worst of the Worst’ list."

Paramount counters with its own thriller this Friday the 13th with "Disturbia." With a more teen-friendly PG-13 rating, the pic tells the tale of a young man under house arrest who suspects that his neighbor is a serial killer. Shia LaBeouf, Carrie-Anne Moss, and David Morse make up the cast so clearly the film is not being sold on its starpower. "Perfect Stranger" will provide some healthy competition as those looking for a scare, and are 17 or older, will find Berry and Willis worth paying money for. But young teens that have already skated with Will Ferrell may look here for their weekly escape to the movies. Entering about 2,500 theaters, "Disturbia" could scare up around $10M over the weekend.


Yet another Shia LaBeouf movie.

Rookie distributor Chicago Releasing drives into theaters with its maiden film "Redline," an action drama about bored rich kids who drag race for fun. The PG-13 film is being aimed at teenage boys and young men with action-packed commercials and trailers full of hot cars and hotter babes. Eddie Griffin is the only major star in this vehicle so only those who really crave another "Fast and the Furious" flick will make it out. But in a weekend when most new films have been slapped with an R, this one could carve out a small audience of teens. Racing into about 2,000 theaters, "Redline" might finish with roughly $7M this weekend.


No word yet how many expensive cars Eddie Griffin wrecks in "Redline."

With all the films thrown into theaters this year, nobody has offered up a handy dandy Viking flick. That changes this weekend with the action-adventure "Pathfinder," an R-rated pic that looks at a young man’s battle against Norse invaders in North America centuries ago. Following the runaway success of "300," it’s no surprise that Fox is marketing "Pathfinder" as a historical war epic based on a graphic novel. But this new film has nothing on Leonidas and pals. The Viking subject matter is not interesting, the marketing push has been weak, and lead actor Karl Urban is no commercial draw. Attacking 1,720 theaters, "Pathfinder" might find only $5M on opening weekend.


Just one of many decapitations in "Pathfinder."

Lionsgate goes after an adult audience with its new crime drama "Slow Burn" which stars Ray Liotta, LL Cool J, and Taye Diggs. The R-rated film about a district attorney whose colleague gets tied up in a murder case will go out in a moderate wide release with only a mild marketing push behind it. The starpower is not strong enough to attract a sizable crowd and there is little buzz among movie fans. Opening in 1,163 locations, "Slow Burn" could die a quick death at the multiplexes with a $4M bow.


"Slow Burn": Expected to experience a quick death.

In a world overstuffed with animated films, First Look Pictures turns the tables and aims at adults with the R-rated toon "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters." Based on the animated series on Cartoon Network, the pic is trying to follow in the footsteps of "Borat" by taking a TV property with a cult following and making a long-titled feature film that pushes the envelope. Even the term ‘Movie Film’ seems taken from the Kazakh journalist. "Aqua Teen" scored some extra publicity with its marketing debacle in Boston several weeks ago, however that will not give the film more mainstream appeal. Only the die hard "Aqua" fans are likely to come out here. Competition is stiff this weekend and with the fewest theaters of the six pack of new flicks, this one could get left behind. Landing in over 800 locations, "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" may collect approximately $4M over three days.


"Only 23 more installments of $59.95 to go!"

After back to back wins atop the box office charts, "Blades of Glory" will face a fierce challenge this weekend from the new releases. Few have the starpower that the Will Ferrell comedy packs and last weekend’s strong hold suggests that crowds are being pleased. A 35% fall would give "Blades" $14M for the weekend and $89M in 17 days.

"Meet the Robinsons" and "Are We Done Yet?" have no new competition for the family audience so respectable holds are likely here as well. A 35% drop would give the Disney toon about $11M for a 17-day tally of $70M while a 40% decline for the Ice Cube sequel would give Sony around $9M for the sophomore frame and $33M after 12 days.

LAST YEAR Easter weekend saw the arrival of "Scary Movie 4" which commanded a powerful opening grossing $40.2M in its debut. It was the second largest opening in the spoof comedy series and went on to capture $90.7M for The Weinstein Co. The animated blockbuster "Ice Age: The Meltdown" dropped to second place with a still-potent $20M in its third frame followed by the sports comedy "The Benchwarmers" with $9.9M. Disney saw a disappointing debut in fourth with the animated film "The Wild" which took in just $9.7M on its way to $37.4M. "Take the Lead" rounded out the top five with $6.8M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

So you come in to work at Disney on Monday morning, expecting everyone to be all smiles and excited about the "pirate booty" that was made over the weekend. Or maybe you’re happy to notice that "Cars" crossed the $200 million mark over the same weekend. And the comes a memo from the boss that says "You’re fired."

From Variety by way of ComingSoon.net: "While "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" set another record on Monday, grossing $18.1 million to beat the previous nonholiday Monday benchmark of $14.4 million set by "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith," Disney is tightening its belt.

According to Variety, Walt Disney Pictures will announce within the next 10 days that it’s cutting back on the number of films it makes to around eight per year — it currently releases around 18 — and will substantially reduce its workforce. All movies will be Disney-branded, meaning companies like Touchstone could be vastly diminished. The cutbacks will be far greater than many anticipated, as studio chairman Dick Cook looks to reinvent the architecture of his studio. The move reflects an effort to improve the studio’s return on investment and get infrastructure back into line.

While Disney’s having a grand summer with "Pirates" and with Pixar’s "Cars," this year has seen some major misfires: "Stick It," "Annapolis," "Stay Alive" and especially "The Wild."

The Disney/Pixar animated film Cars raced past the competition to finish in first place at the North American box office. Though it did not open as strong as some of its predecessors, the toon easily outdistanced everything else in the current marketplace outselling the second place film by a three-to-one margin.

Also debuting this weekend, the horror remake The Omen scared up a solid debut since its Tuesday launch and the Robert Altman film A Prairie Home Companion also posted healthy numbers in its opening. Overall, the box office remained stronger than last year’s thanks to an assortment of popular films offering something for everybody. Six films reached double-digit millions this weekend as the marketplace displayed great breadth in its product offering.

Crossing the finish line with an estimated $62.8M in ticket sales, Cars easily topped the charts this weekend giving Disney and Pixar their seventh number one hit together. Playing at an ultrawide 3,985 theaters, the G-rated story of a cocky race car who learns that winning isn’t everything averaged a musclar $15,759 per site. The opening did, however, put an end to the decade-long streak that Pixar enjoyed where every film debuted bigger than the previous one. The company’s last entry The Incredibles bowed to $70.5M from 3,933 theaters for a $17,917 average in November 2004 while the previous smash Finding Nemo opened to $70.3M from 3,374 venues for a $20,821 average in May 2003.

Cars did not reach the $70M mark that those two hits surpassed on opening weekend and instead performed just like Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. which launched with $62.6M in November 2001. However, the new automotive adventure enjoyed higher ticket prices and 748 more theaters yet still reached the same figure. Among all animated films, the Cars opening ranks fifth all-time behind Shrek 2 ($108M), The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and Ice Age: The Meltdown which bowed to $68M this past March. Cars did generate the second largest June opening ever behind Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban which exploded two years ago with $93.7M.

One reason Cars did not surge higher may have been that the marketplace has suffered through a glut of computer animated films this year. Not long ago, the arrival of a digital toon was an event as it only happened once or twice a year. Nowadays with weaker entries like Doogal and The Wild hitting theaters, and more studios jumping into the game, the novelty has worn thin. Over the Hedge and Ice Age have been satisfying families over the past two months grossing a stellar $322M combined. Also not helping matters was the film’s lengthy 116-minute running time which is considerably longer than the typical 90-minute length that most young kids are used to sitting through.

Directed by Pixar veteran John Lasseter (Toy Story, Toy Story 2), Cars features the voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, and Larry the Cable Guy. Disney pumped in lots of marketing to push its first major entry in the summer sweepstakes and hopes to keep audiences coming back for more with the July 7 release of its Pirates of the Caribbean sequel.

With more and more school children starting their summer vacations every day, mid-week grosses should be strong in the weeks ahead for Cars. Reviews have been good so many fans may end up catching the film in the weeks ahead. The Incredibles went on to reach a final domestic haul of $261.4M which was almost four times its opening weekend. Nemo had even stronger legs finding its way to $339.7M, or about five times its debut. Given its start out of the gate, Cars still looks set to zoom well past the $200M mark in North America.

Following its surprise top spot debut last weekend, the Vince VaughnJennifer Aniston comedy The Break-Up dropped a sizable 48% in its sophomore frame and placed second with an estimated $20.5M. With an impressive $74.1M in only ten days, the Universal release looks to reach the neighborhood of $120M by the end of its domestic run. It was produced for $52M. Overseas, The Break-Up opened in Australia and New Zealand with a combined $2.2M from 230 locations, helped by local appearances by the film’s stars. It ranked number one in both countries on Thursday and Friday, but was bumped by Cars on Saturday and Sunday thanks to the Pixar flick’s strong matinee business with children. Most other major international markets will open after the World Cup.


X-Men: The Last Stand
dropped a hefty 54% in its third weekend and grossed an estimated $15.6M. The super hero hit upped its cume to $201.7M after 17 days and became the top-grossing film of 2006. Fox’s franchise flick is still on course to surpass the $214.9M of its predecessor to become the highest grossing X-Men installment.

Opening right on the heels of the mutants was the studio’s remake of The Omen which took in an estimated $15.5M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Fox launched the R-rated thriller with a much-hyped Tuesday debut on 6/6/06 grossing a stunning $12.6M in its first day. That made it the largest Tuesday gross ever for any film. The son-of-the-devil pic settled in to more normal grosses on subsequent days and collected a hefty $20.3M over the Tuesday-to-Thursday mid-week period giving The Omen a strong six-day opening tally of $35.7M. Reviews were not too favorable.

Starring Julia Stiles, Liev Schreiber, and Mia Farrow, the new religious chiller played more to today’s younger horror audience than to the older fans who were spooked by the 1976 original. Studio research showed that 52% of the audience was female and a very high 63% was under the age of 25. Fox estimated that the production cost for the new Damien pic was in the mid-$20M range. The studio’s decision to open the film globally on the devilish date was central to the marketing campaign and made it an event film rather than yet another remake of a horror classic. But with sales eroding over the course of the week, The Omen could be in for some steep declines in the weeks ahead.

The animated comedy Over the Hedge experienced its largest drop yet thanks to the arrival of Cars falling 50% to an estimated $10.3M. The Paramount release has collected a solid $130.3M thus far. Tied for fifth place, Sony’s religious thriller The Da Vinci Code dropped 45% to an estimated $10.3M pushing its domestic total to $189M.

Opening in seventh place with respectable results was Robert Altman’s latest film A Prairie Home Companion with an estimated $4.7M from only 760 theaters. Averaging a solid $6,146 per location, the PG-13 film about the backstage drama behind a country music reunion show featured an all-star ensemble cast including Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, and Lindsay Lohan. Prairie, which earned mostly positive reviews, was released by Picturehouse and played to a mature adult audience.

Paramount’s spy sequel Mission: Impossible III grossed an estimated $3M, down 35%, giving the Tom Cruise actioner $127.5M to date. Robin Williams saw his family comedy RV dip 38% to an estimated $2M in its seventh weekend giving Sony $65M. Rounding out the top ten was Poseidon with an estimated $1.8M, down 47%, for a $54.9M cume for Warner Bros.

Although the summer season is lacking a $300M+ megahit like last year’s Star Wars Episode III, the most popular films are still pulling in the same amount of business. The collective gross of the top five summer films so far is $722.6M which is up 2.4% from this same point a year ago. However, it is still a far cry from the mammoth $907M that 2004’s five biggest summer hits grossed at this stage two years ago led by the Shrek and Harry Potter sequels.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Paramount Vantage’s global warming hit An Inconvenient Truth widened from 77 to 122 theaters and grossed an estimated $1.5M in its third frame. Though no longer in the top ten, it did still post a strong per-theater average of $12,077. The Al Gore film has taken in just under $4M from its limited release and will expand to about 400 runs nationwide this Friday.

The Lionsgate horror entry See No Evil got hacked 58% to an estimated $860,000 for a cume of $14M. A $15M final seems likely. Lindsay Lohan‘s teen comedy Just My Luck tumbled by two-thirds to an estimated $295,000. The Fox title has grossed a disappointing $16.2M to date and should finish up with only a little more.

Opening this weekend in limited release was the documentary The Heart of the Game which follows a girls high school basketball team and its coach. The Miramax title grossed an estimated $12,200 from just three theaters for a decent $4,068 average.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $146.4M which was up 9% from last year when Mr. & Mrs. Smith debuted at number one with $50.3M; but off 3% from 2004 when Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban remained in the top spot with $34.9M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Tom Cruise climbed into his usual number one spot at the box office with his heavily-hyped spy sequel Mission: Impossible III, however ticket sales fell below most industry expectations as the debut was not spectacular.

The weekend’s other new releases, the horror flick An American Haunting and the kid drama Hoot, both generated lukewarm openings. But thanks to a weak early May in 2005, the overall marketplace still beat out last year for the seventh consecutive frame.

Paramount claimed the top spot with MI3 which invaded a staggering 4,054 theaters collecting an estimated $48M in ticket sales over the Friday-to-Sunday period. The third installment in the decade-old franchise averaged a potent $11,846 per venue. But Tom Cruise’s box office muscles were expected to lift the tally much higher given all the factors that were working in the $150M film’s favor. The newest Mission pic obviously had plenty of starpower but with its early May bow, it had virtually no competition in the multiplexes to deal with. Plus the studio’s marketing hype was deafening, the pic opened in the second highest number of theaters in history for a live-action film (behind Spider-Man 2‘s 4,152), and even the reviews were mostly favorable. That was a welcome bonus as critics are rarely kind to big-budget action sequels.

According to studio research, MI3 connected with the same audience that the previous two did. Men made up 56% of the crowd and 64% were age 25 or older. Joining Cruise in the PG-13 film’s cast were Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, and recent Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Openings for other high-profile action films debuting on the first weekend of May include $68.1M for 2001’s The Mummy Returns, $85.6M for 2003’s X2: X-Men United, and $51.7M for 2004’s Van Helsing. MI3 didn’t even reach the level of Van Helsing. In fact, its opening gross was even weaker than that of Mission: Impossible 2 which launched over Memorial Day weekend six years ago with $57.8M over three days, $70.8M over four days, and $91.8M over its six-day Wednesday-to-Monday span. Even with higher ticket prices, a Friday bow, and hundreds of more theaters, MI3 still failed to reach the heights of MI2. Adjusting for inflation, MI3’s opening was the weakest among the Ethan Hunt flicks. The first Mission bowed to $74.9M over its six-day holiday frame in May 1996 including $45.4M over the Friday-to-Sunday span.

Instead, the new J.J. Abrams-directed IMF saga opened in the same neighborhood as other recent star-driven spy films like last summer’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith ($50.3M), 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy ($52.5M), and 2002’s James Bond film Die Another Day ($47.1M). Although opening near the $50M mark over three days is an impressive feat, Cruise’s new film was backed by one of the most expensive marketing campaigns in recent memory. The highly-paid star/producer attended premieres all around the world, popped up on major talk shows and magazine covers, and press coverage, not surprisingly, was non-stop.

Industry watchers must now wonder – was there too much marketing? Were audiences sick and tired of hearing and seeing Tom Cruise everywhere? Did they really want to spend money seeing even more of him? Media-saavy moviegoers voted with their dollars and those who seemed to have had enough chose to stay away. The MI3 hype machine brought back memories of Sony’s Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle from three years ago. That action sequel also arrived in theaters on a disturbingly loud wave of promotion revolving around its flamboyant stars and Demi Moore‘s relationship with Ashton Kutcher which was constantly covered on the airwaves. Despite the pricey marketing investment, Throttle debuted weaker than expected with $37.6M and crumbled 63% in its sophomore frame.


Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle

Paramount was pleased with the international results for Mission: Impossible III as the actioner took in an estimated $70M over the weekend opening in almost all major markets around the world except for Japan. The spy sequel blanketed the globe with roughly 9,500 theaters in 55 markets putting its worldwide opening weekend tally at $118M. The ratio between sales outside and within North America remained the same as with previous Mission pics. The 1996 original grossed 61% of its $465M global tally overseas while MI2 took in 60% of its $538M internationally. This weekend, 60% of MI3’s dollars came from abroad.

With no major competition for the family audience, the Robin Williams comedy RV enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten easing just 32% to an estimated $11.1M. The Sony release dropped one notch following its top spot bow and has grossed a solid $31M to date. In just ten days, RV has already become the second biggest live-action grosser for Williams in the past seven years after the $67.4M of 2002’s Insomnia. Look for the $50M road trip flick to end its journey in the neighborhood of $60M.


R.V.

Opening in third place was the supernatural thriller An American Haunting which scared up an estimated $6.4M in ticket sales in its first three days. The PG-13 film averaged a decent $3,825 from 1,668 theaters. Reviews were mostly negative for the Donald SutherlandSissy Spacek starrer about a possessed young woman in the 1800s. Distributor Freestyle Releasing’s weekend estimate included an unusually low Saturday-to-Sunday decline of less than 5%. Final grosses released on Monday could see the figure come down.


"An American Haunting," "Stick It," and "United 93"

The gymnastics comedy Stick It tumbled 49% in its second weekend to an estimated $5.5M giving Buena Vista $18M in ten days. Look for the teen pic to reach $27-29M which is commendable for its genre. After a solid takeoff last weekend, the 9/11 hijack thriller United 93 declined a substantial 55% in its sophomore frame and grossed an estimated $5.2M. After ten days, Universal’s $15M pic has collected $20.1M and should find its way to roughly $30M domestically.

Fox’s Ice Age: The Meltdown dropped 45% to an estimated $4M in its sixth frame to boost its cume to $183.3M. Crumbling 58% in its third spook was Sony’s fright flick Silent Hill which grossed an estimated $3.9M lifting the cume to $40.8M.


"Ice Age: The Meltdown," "Silent Hill," and "Scary Movie 4"

The spoof sequel Scary Movie 4 fell 52% to an estimated $3.8M and brought its total to $83.7M. The Starbucks-promoted kid drama Akeelah and the Bee enjoyed a respectable second weekend hold dropping 43% to an estimated $3.4M. After ten days, the Lionsgate release has still only grossed $10.7M and seems likely to finish close to $20M.

Opening to dismal results with an estimated $3.4M from 3,018 theaters was the kid drama Hoot from New Line. The PG-rated story of a group of boys who set out to save endangered owls averaged a pitiful $1,127 per location. Fans of the best-selling book apparently avoided the film adaptation and critics for the most part were unimpressed.


"Akeelah and the Bee," "Hoot," and "The Promise"

A handful of films opened in limited release to mixed results. Warner Independent debuted the Chinese epic The Promise in 213 theaters but grossed only $271,000 according to estimates for a poor $1,272 average. The Golden Globe-nominated adventure was China’s official submission to this year’s Oscars and is reportedly that country’s most expensive film ever made. U.S. critics were not very pleased.

Sony Classics bowed its indie comedy Art School Confidential which grossed an estimated $142,000 from a dozen sites in New York and Los Angeles averaging a strong $11,833 per site. The Terry Zwigoff-directed film expands to nearly 800 theaters in most major markets on Friday. ThinkFilm debuted its Edward Norton starrer Down in the Valley to an estimated $26,000 from three New York houses for a solid $8,770 average. The film widens to three more cities on Friday before gradually expanding throughout May.


"Art School Confidential"

Among holdovers, Fox Searchlight expanded its widow drama Water from five to 36 theaters and grossed an estimated $188,000 for a $5,222 average. The ten-day total stands at $270,000 and this Friday the Deepa Mehta film will widen to about 60 sites. The distributor’s indie sensation Thank You for Smoking collected an estimated $1.1M, off 40%, for a $20M cume.

Three April releases were pushed out of the top ten this weekend. The Michael Douglas political thriller The Sentinel took a big hit from MI3 and crashed 62% to an estimated $3M putting its 17-day cume at $30.9M. Fox should find its way to about $36M. Disney’s underperforming toon The Wild slumped 46% to an estimated $2.6M. With only $32M in the bank, the animated film looks to conclude with $36-38M. Sony, on the other hand, has generated solid numbers for its sports comedy The Benchwarmers which grossed an estimated $2M this weekend. Down 54%, the Rob SchneiderDavid Spade film has taken in $55.6M thus far and is set to end with just under $60M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $94.7M which was up a healthy 24% from last year when Kingdom of Heaven opened at number one with $19.6M; but off 4% from 2004 when Van Helsing debuted in the top spot with $51.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, BoxOfficeGuru.com

Sony rode a press blackout to first place with their video game horror flick "Silent Hill." The gothic creepfest earned an estimated $20.2 million from 2,900 theaters, handily knocking last week’s champ, "Scary Movie 4," into second place.

Chapter numero cuatro in the seemingly endless spoof series, "Scary Movie 4" grabbed another $17 million, placing its total somewhere in the range of $67.7 million. Debuting in 2,800 theaters (and third place) was Fox’s secret service thriller "The Sentinel," with $14.7 million.


Silent Hill

Fourth and fifth place went to a pair of animated animal-fests: "Ice Age: The Meltdown" ($12.8 million weekend, $168 million total) and "The Wild" ($8.1 million weekend, $22 million total), respectively.


Keifer Sutherland and Eva Longoria in "The Sentinel"

Arriving next weekend are the last four flicks before May kick-starts the "summer" movie season: Lionsgate’s family drama "Akeelah and the Bee," Sony’s slapsticker "RV," Disney’s tween-sports flick "Stick It," and Universal’s inevitably controversial 9/11 drama, "United 93."

For a more thorough examination of this past weekend’s box office results, please do click by the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.

WeinsteinCo’s Scary Movie 4 made a huge pile of cash over the holiday weekend, demolishing Panic Room‘s $30 million Easter haul from a few years back. The silly sequel scared up an amazing $41 million from more than 3,600 screens — and yes, Scary Movie 5 will be hitting theaters at this time next year. (Shocker, eh?)

Still going pretty darn strong in second place was Fox’s Ice Age: The Meltdown, which added another $20 million to its (impressively) grand total of $147 million. Third place went to another returnee: Sony’s The Benchwarmers fell 49% to snag $10 million in its second weekend, giving it a total haul of about $36 million.

Disney’s unkindly-reviewed The Wild debuted in 4th place, pulling in just under $10 million from 2,800 theaters, while the dance-hall drama Take the Lead took the fifth spot with $6.7 million (and a $22.5 million total).

Next week’s wide releases look to be Universal’s satire American Dreamz, Fox’s Secret Service thriller The Sentinel, and Sony’s horror flick / video game adaptation Silent Hill.

For a closer look at the weekend numbers, pop on over to the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.

This week’s wide releases include a group of zoo creatures that reconnect with their roots ("The Wild") and another installment of the genre-spoofing "Scary Movie" series ("Scary Movie 4"). What do the critics say?

A fourth "Scary Movie" is hitting theaters; this time it’s parodying "War of the Worlds," "Saw," and an obscure but terrifying slasher flick called "Brokeback Mountain." A lot of people like these movies — heck, they have made four of them — but those people aren’t generally movie critics; the scribes are calling this latest installment a hit-or-miss affair. But, if you’re in the market for this kind of thing, you should know that "Scary Movie 4," at 44 percent on the Tomatometer, currently stands as the second-best reviewed film in the series, behind the original (52 percent).

Four animals bust out of the zoo in search of their natural habitats, only to fall into the clutches of a buffoonish-but-dangerous animal cult leader. If the plot description for "The Wild" sounds a tad familiar, that’s because it’s essentially the same as last summer’s not-so-red-hot "Madagascar" (55 percent on the Tomatometer). It’s amazing that, given the seemingly limitless potential of CGI, the scribes are already accusing new animated films of being derivative. The critics also say "The Wild" is noisy and busy without being particularly funny or engaging. At 17 percent on the Tomatometer, "The Wild" is the second-worst reviewed CGI film to date, only outranking "Doogal," which is at five percent.

On to America’s favorite game: Banana Kid correctly guessed "The Benchwarmers" would end up with a 12 percent on the Tomatometer. Unfortunately, no one came particularly close to "Phat Girlz‘" not-great-but-not-terrible Tomatometer of 31 percent.

Scary Movies:
——————
52% — Scary Movie (2000)
11% — Scary Movie 2 (2001)
39% — Scary Movie 3 (2003)

Recent CGI Films:
———————–
60% — Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)
5% — Doogal (2006)
46% — Hoodwinked (2006)
37% — Chicken Little (2005)
27% — Valiant (2005)

The rich pact, which is set to begin in June, calls for the actor to continue on the hit Fox drama for three more years and includes a two-year development deal for Kiefer Sutherland‘s soon-to-be-launched production banner.

Details on the deal were sketchy, but sources pegged the acting portion alone at more than $40 million for the three seasons, which could make Sutherland the highest-paid actor in a drama series.

While the deal with Sutherland locks him in for three additional years beyond the current fifth season of "24," the 20th TV/Imagine TV-produced show so far has been picked up for one additional season.

Under the pact, Sutherland also will be elevated from a co-executive producer to executive producer on "24" next season alongside Joel Surnow, Robert Cochran, Howard Gordon and Evan Katz.

The development portion of the deal is said to include overhead and a development fund for Sutherland’s company. Sutherland will hire a development executive and will begin to develop and executive produce projects for television as well the Internet and wireless devices.

Sutherland called his past five years on the show "one of the most creative and rewarding experiences in my career."

In its fifth season, "24" is enjoying some of its best ratings and critical notices. The show, which introduced the now-hot serialized thriller genre, also has become a DVD best-seller and has spawned a mobile phone series.

Sutherland’s performance on "24" has earned him a Golden Globe award and four Emmy nominations.

On the big screen, he next will be seen opposite Michael Douglas and Kim Basinger in "The Sentinel" and will provide the voice of the lion in Disney’s "The Wild."

Report: SKNR.net

And there’s sketchy talk of a 24 movie for somewhere down the road, but I wouldn’t exactly hold my breath waiting for it.

Fox’s big-money cash cow Ice Age: The Meltdown reigned supreme for a second consecutive weekend at the box office, fending off a few newcomers who probably made a bit more money than they deserved. Playing on nearly 4,000 screens, Meltdown made another $34.5 million (!) over the weekend, upping its grand total to an icy cool $116.4 million.

Debuting in second-place was the unscreened-for-critics and therefore-probably-stinky Sony Benchwarmers, which fielded about $20.5 million from 3,300 theaters. Dancing along in third place was the Antonio Banderas ballroomer Take the Lead, which made $12.8 million from 3,000 theaters.

Hanging on in fourth place was Universal’s Inside Man, which added another $9.2 million to its $66.1 million bank vault, while fifth place went to WeinsteinCo newcomer Lucky Number Slevin, which debuted in 2,000 theaters to the tune of $7.1 million.

Fox Searchlight’s Phat Girlz debuted with sort of a thud, grossing about $3.1 million from just over a thousand theaters.

Next weekend sees the arrival of two new wide-release entries: Disney’s animated comedy The Wild, and Dimension’s 4-hour Canadian period piece costume drama Scary Movie 4.

As always, the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page is open and awaiting your return.

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