Hogwarts fans flexed their muscles at the North
American box office showing up in droves once again for the extended opening
weekend of "Harry
Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
" which seized control of the multiplexes
with its top spot debut. Most holdovers fared well too as no film in the top ten
suffered a decline of more than 50%.

Flying in and winning the box office crown, the fifth "Harry
Potter
" film grossed an estimated $77.4M over the Friday-to-Sunday weekend
period and an eye-popping $140M since its Wednesday launch. That gave Warner
Bros. the second best Wednesday-to-Sunday opening in history trailing only the
$152.4M of "Spider-Man 2"
which debuted just ahead of the Independence Day holiday in 2004.

Comparing "Phoenix" to previous "Potter" films or even to this summer’s biggest
opening weekends would be pointless since those blockbusters all debuted on a
Friday. The latest wizard film did set a new Wednesday opening day record with
$44.2M which ranked as the fifth best opening day overall. The budget was
reportedly in the neighborhood of $200M.

Overseas, Warner Bros made a deep impact as well collecting a staggering $190.3M
over five days from 44 territories from over 12,000 prints. In North America,
the PG-13 film launched in 4,285 theaters with over 9,000 total prints. That
gave "Phoenix" a jaw-dropping global opening of $330M in just five days. The
film also set Imax records around the world.
 


Directed by David Yates,
"The Order of the Phoenix" took the longest book in the wildly popular series
and transformed it into the shortest of the five films thus far. Reviews were
mixed but overall most were positive. Extra excitement was generated by the hype
surrounding the debut of the seventh and final book which hits stores by no
coincidence just a week after the film’s opening weekend.
 

"Phoenix" hopes to eventually generate the $882M that the past Potter films have
averaged in worldwide box office. The stunning amount is equal to the current
average of the three "Pirates of the Caribbean" pics and is higher than the
$830M for each of the three "Spider-Man" films and the $808M average gross for
the recent "Star Wars" trilogy. However, "Potter" still has a long way to go in
order to come close to boosting its global box office average to the astounding
$970M for "The Lord of the Rings" trio.

 

"Phoenix" averaged a powerful $18,065 over three days from its ultrawide
saturation release which included 91 Imax locations. The blockbuster averaged an
additional $14,974 from 4,181 playdates over its $62.6M Wednesday-Thursday
midweek bow. Though diluted down by the midweek launch, the new wizard film
still outdistanced its nearest competitor by more than a two-to-one ratio over
the weekend period.
 

Bumped to second place in its second weekend was the robot megahit "Transformers"
with an estimated $36M for Paramount and DreamWorks. The
Michael Bay-directed
actioner dropped only 49% which was encouraging for a summer tentpole given the
arrival of "Potter." The cume shot to an astounding $223M in only 13.5 days and
became the director’s all-time top grosser. Budgeted at $150M, the Autobots
could go on to gross about $300M domestically and over $700M worldwide making it
one of the summer’s top-performing hits.
 


Disney and Pixar followed with their computer-animated concoction "Ratatouille"
which slipped 38% to an estimated $18M in its third outing. The total reached
$143M and the $200M mark still seems within reach.
Bruce Willis
captured an estimated $10.9M with his action sequel "Live
Free or Die Hard
" which fell 39% and upped its cume to $102.9M. A domestic
final of roughly $130M seems likely.
 


The
Robin Williams comedy "License to Wed" enjoyed a remarkably good hold in its
second weekend grossing an estimated $7.4M. Off only 29%, the Warner Bros. title
has taken in $30.5M in 13 days and could make its way to $50-55M.
 


MGM’s long-lasting horror flick "1408" dipped only 29% in its fourth frame to an
estimated $5M raising the cume to a solid $62.2M. The
John Cusack starrer now
looks on track to surpass "Disturbia" to become the top-grossing fright flick of
2007. Struggling to make its way into the century club,
Steve Carell’s "Evan
Almighty
" grossed an estimated $5M as well, down 43%, putting its total at
$87.9M.
 

Universal stablemate "Knocked Up" followed with an estimated $3.7M, down only 30%,
for a sum of $138.2M. The
Michael Moore documentary
"Sicko" dropped 26% to an
estimated $2.7M giving Lionsgate $15.9M to date. Rounding out the top ten was
"Ocean’s Thirteen" with an estimated $1.9M, down 46%, putting the Warner Bros.
sequel at $112.4M.
 

Don Cheadle’s new indie film
"Talk To Me" opened to solid results in limited
release grossing an estimated $391,000 from only 33 theaters for a potent
$11,848 average. The Focus release about controversial radio host Petey Greene
earned strong reviews and played to both arthouse and African American
audiences. Talk will expand further on July 27.
 

After Dark Films couldn’t find paying customers for its new horror title
"Captivity" which bowed to just $1.6M, according to estimates. The R-rated gorefest starring
Elisha Cuthbert averaged a puny $1,476 from 1,050 venues and
should arrive on DVD within minutes.

Falling from the top ten over the weekend was the super hero sequel "Fantastic
Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
" which collected an estimated $1.6M tumbling 63%
in its fifth mission. With $127.1M in the bank, the Fox release seems headed for
a final domestic total of roughly $130M which would be 16% lower than the
$154.7M of its 2005 predecessor. "Silver Surfer" has company in that department
since most high profile summer films this year are running behind the paces of
their last corresponding films. Percentages that this season’s sequels are
trailing their predecessors by include 6% for "Ocean’s Thirteen," 10% for
"Spider-Man 3," 25% for
"Shrek the Third," 25% for
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At
World’s End
," and 55% for "Evan Almighty." Even Pixar’s
"Ratatouille" is currently 9%
behind the pace of last summer’s "Cars."

A handful of limited releases expanded into more markets and were met with
varying results. MGM’s war drama "Rescue Dawn" widened from six to 38 sites and
grossed an estimated $357,000 for a strong $9,395 average. Cume is $586,000. Fox
Searchlight’s "Joshua" expanded from six to 151 locations and took in an estimated
$210,000 for a mild $1,391 average. Total stands at $285,000. Warner Independent
grossed an estimated $91,000 for its comedy "Introducing the Dwights" after going
from four to 35 playdates. With an average of only $2,600, the total reached
$145,000.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $167.9M which was up 14% from last year
when "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" remained at number one with
$62.3M; and up 10% from 2005 when "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"
debuted on top with $56.2 million.

Author: Gitesh Pandaya, www.boxofficeguru.com

Optimus Prime and his robot heroes seized the number one spot at the North American box office with an explosive opening for "Transformers" over the extended Independence Day holiday frame. The Paramount/DreamWorks co-production grossed an estimated $67.6M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and an amazing $152.5M since its early opening last Monday with 8pm preview shows.

Internationally, the Michael Bay-directed actioner has grossed a stellar $93.6M to date from 29 markets putting the global haul at $246.1M and counting. Shia LaBeouf, Tyrese Gibson, Jon Voight, Anthony Anderson, and newcomer Megan Fox led the cast while executive producer Steven Spielberg’s name played prominently in the film’s marketing campaign.

"Transformers" played in an ultrawide 4,011 theaters in North America and averaged a scorching $16,854 for the weekend and a stunning $38,021 over the 6.5-day opening week. The PG-13 film began its explosive run on Monday night with $8.8M in ticket sales and followed that with $27.9M on Tuesday, $29.1M on the Wednesday holiday, $19.2M on Thursday, $22.5M on Friday, $25.9M on Saturday, and an estimated $19.2M on Sunday. The Sunday estimate could be conservative as other studios estimate the weekend gross to be closer to $68M or even $69M meaning final numbers could inch up slightly on Monday.

With a production budget of $145M, "Transformers" is one of the least expensive summer tentpoles this year. "Spider-Man 3" and the third "Pirates" saga reportedly cost $250-300M each to produce and next weekend’s "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" also carries a mighty high pricetag. By comparison, the Autobots flick seems rather inexpensive. The pressure certainly was on Bay after his last film "The Island" cost $125M and grossed a puny $35.8M for DreamWorks two years ago. This time, the studio will be rewarded as "Transformers" not only started off with a bang, but is pleasing audiences too and could enjoy more solid weeks ahead. Its main foe will come from "Potter" which invades multiplexes this Wednesday to get a headstart on what surely will be a gargantuan five-day debut.

Paramount set a new record for the biggest opening week for a non-sequel as its 6.5-day tally edged out the $151.6M that "Spider-Man" grossed in May 2002. The webslinger’s figure would be roughly $170M at today’s prices, though. Still for Paramount and DreamWorks, "Transformers" marks the biggest live-action opening in company history and their third largest overall debut after the third and second "Shrek" installments.

Adjusting for eleven years of ticket price increases, "Transformers" sold about as many tickets as "Independence Day" did during its extended debut over the same Fourth of July holiday week. Both were effects-driven non-sequel summer action films with ensemble casts about alien forces threatening the safety of Earth. "Independence Day" began its run with 6pm shows on Tuesday night and grossed $96.1M from 2,882 theaters over 5.5 days which at today’s prices would be about $125M. "Transformers" collected a slightly better $133.3M in its first 5.5 days. Of course, the comparisons are not exact since ID4 had an earlier start with its Tuesday previews and "Transformers" played in 1,129 more theaters, but the fighting robots did generate the same early July excitement that the alien blockbuster did over a decade ago.

Shia LaBeouf must be hoping that his career will take off the way Will Smith’s did back then. The young actor will star opposite Harrison Ford next Memorial Day weekend with Paramount’s fourth "Indiana Jones" film which certainly makes his stock climb, and will be looking for a much fatter paycheck when "Transformers 2" negotiations begin.

Moviegoers who preferred rats over robots spent an estimated $29M on the Disney/Pixar hit "Ratatouille" which dropped to second place after losing only 38% of its opening weekend sales. After a stellar midweek holiday period that saw the G-rated toon grossing $33.5M from Monday-to-Thursday, the ten-day cume soared to $109.5M. "Ratatouille" is now catching up to Pixar’s "Cars" from last summer which dropped 44% to $33.7M in its second weekend for a ten-day tally of $117.1M. The rodent pic trailed "Cars" by 22% after the first three days, but has now cut the gap to only 6%. "Ratatouille" could find its way to the vicinity of $225M.

Despite direct competition from "Transformers," "Live Free or Die Hard" performed well shooting up an estmated $17.4M for third place this weekend. Down 48%, the PG-13 action sequel upped its cume to $84.2M after 12 days. A final domestic tally of $130-140M could result.

Robin Williams saw only mild results for his latest comedy "License to Wed" which grossed an estimated $10.4M over the weekend and opened to $17.8M over its extended six-day launch period. Playing in 2,604 theaters, the PG-13 pic averaged a mediocre $3,998 over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Critics trashed the Warner Bros. release which tried to position itself as counterprogramming to the testosterone antics of the fighting robots over the holiday week.

Dropping 46% to fifth place was the pricey comedy "Evan Almighty" with an estimated $8.1M in its third weekend giving Universal $78.1M to date. 2003’s "Bruce Almighty" grossed a much mightier $171.4M in its first 17 days and cost half as much as "Evan" to produce.

MGM’s hit thriller "1408" followed with an estimated $7.1M, down only 33%, for a solid cume of $53.8M. Universal’s comedy "Knocked Up" also held up well dipping 29% to an estimated $5.2M. The impressive total stands at $132M which is already 21% better than the final gross of director Judd Apatow’s last film "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" which laughed up $109.3M in 2005.

Fox’s comic book sequel "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" suffered the worst drop in the top ten falling 55% to an estimated $4.2M for a $123.8M total (9% behind its predecessor). Lionsgate expanded its Michael Moore documentary "Sicko" from 441 to 702 theaters and grossed an estimated $3.7M, off just 19%, pushing the cume to $11.5M. George Clooney and pals rounded out the top ten by looting an estimated $3.5M with "Ocean’s Thirteen," down 42%, and raised the sum to $109.1M (5% behind "Ocean’s Twelve").

Three new films debuted well in limited release over the weekend. MGM’s Vietnam war drama "Rescue Dawn" opened in six theaters with an estimated $104,000 for a potent $17,375 average. With $161,000 over five days, the Christian Bale film played to an older male audience and expands to the top ten markets this Friday. Fox Searchlight’s thriller "Joshua" bowed in six sites as well and grossed an estimated $51,086 for an average of $8,514. The distributor will widen the run into about 140 locations this coming weekend. Warner Independent opened its comedy "Introducing the Dwights" in four playdates and collected an estimated $31,000 for a three-day average of $7,750. Five-day total was $46,000. On Friday, the R-rated pic will expand to about 40 theaters.

Two films fell from the top ten over the weekend. The megahit "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" became the 25th film in history to sail past the $300M mark with its estimated $3M take in its seventh frame. Down 39%, the Johnny Depp adventure upped its total to $301.7M from North America keeping it at number 25 on list of all-time domestic blockbusters. A final gross of $305-310M seems likely domestically. Overseas ticket sales have surpassed $614M putting the global gross at a colossal $916M and counting.

Focus enjoyed a good hold with its star-driven drama "Evening" which took in an estimated $2.3M, off 33% in its sophomore frame. But the ten-day cume is still only at $8.3M meaning a not-so-impressive $15M final seems likely.

Among the summer’s biggest hits, "Shrek the Third" grossed an estimated $1.4M, down 48%, while "Spider-Man 3" dipped 42% to an estimated $350,000. Total domestic grosses stand at $316.6M and $334.4M, respectively, and both films have now joined the Top 20 on the all-time domestic blockbusters list.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $156.2M which was down 25% from last year when "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" shattered the opening weekend box office record with $135.6M; but up 15% from 2005 when "Fantastic Four" debuted on top with $56.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies we have disrupted nuptials ("License to Wed," starring John Krasinski and Mandy Moore) and metamorphisizing robots ("Transformers," starring Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox). What do the critics have to say?

As "The Office"’s lovably smug Jim, John Krasinski has built up a lot of cred with the twentysomething crowd, which may have been effectively blown with "License to Wed." Krasinski and Mandy Moore star as an engaged couple who go through rigorous pre-marriage counseling, run by a maniac preacher as played by Robin Williams. Critics label Krasinski’s and Moore’s characters as bland and barely sketched out, resulting in a movie that completely flatlines when Williams isn’t around to do his kooky and increasingly aggravating shtick. At 14 percent on the Tomatometer, potential "License to Wed" ticket buyers should get cold feet.


"I hope our kids don’t ever see this movie."

If last week’s "Live Free or Die Hard" was a summer tentpole throwback to the pre-CG days of crazy stuntwork, then "Transformers" is the complete opposite. It’s a slick, special effects driven extravaganza about two warring robot factions, the Autobots and the Decepticons, who take their fight to our planet. Shia LaBeouf leads a small ensemble cast of humans caught in-between the fight. "Transformers"’ detractors call it an obnoxiously loud film with corny dialogue. Supporters praise the film for being… obnoxiously loud and corny, a fun popcorn flick that is Bay‘s bread and butter. With a 59 percent Tomatometer (and a surprising 73 percent from Cream of the Crop critics), "Transformers" is for the fans and the curious looking for a raucous, out-of-control time at the movies.


"Transformers" is out to crush the competition.

Also opening in limited release: "Rescue Dawn," a harrowing war drama from director Werner Herzog, is at 88 percent; "Joshua," psychological horror in the vein of "Rosemary’s Baby" and "The Bad Seed," is at 67 percent; "Introducing the Dwights," a coming of age drama about a boy and his fame-seeking mother, is at 63 percent; and "The Method," a Spanish import about a company’s bizarre hiring method, is at 56 percent.


This season’s winner of "Celebrity Fit Club."

Recent Robot Movies, Robot Movies Featuring Robin Williams
———————————-
63% — "Robots" (2005)
59% — "I, Robot" (2004)
73% — "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" (2001)
38% — "Bicentennial Man" (1999)
42% — "Transformers: The Movie" (1986)

The deal floodgates opened today, with studios picking up "Clubland," "My Kid Could Paint That," "Waitress," "In the Shadow of the Moon," and "Joshua."

As previously reported, child painting doc "My Kid Could Paint That" sold to Sony Pictures Classics for just under $2 million ($1.85 million, to be precise). The film follows a kid whose paintings made her an abstract art celebrity, but whose parents might have orchestrated her success as a hoax.


"My Kid Could Paint That"

The NASA astronaut documentary, "In the Shadow of the Moon," also sold theatrically today to ThinkFilm for $2 million, while Discovery Channel nabbed broadcast rights. "Moon" will debut in 2007.


"In the Shadow of the Moon"

Shortly after its 11:30 am premiere, Adrienne Shelley‘s posthumous pic "Waitress" went to Fox Searchlight for "just under $4 million," according to Anne Thompson’s Risky Biz blog. The drama about an unhappily married woman in a small Southern town star Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion and will be released this year.


"Waitress"

Warner Independent nabbed North American rights to the Brenda Blethyn starrer "Clubland," about lovelorn kid in a showbiz family. The sale of this Australian pic is being called "one of the biggest sales of the festival."


"Clubland"

Also sold over the weekend was the family psychological thriller "Joshua," starring Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga as parents of a potentially sinister young boy. Fox Searchlight acquired the film for $3.7 million.


"Joshua"

Check out our full Fundance at Sundance coverage!

When he wasn’t battling drug abuse or getting in trouble with the law, the late Rick James used to get pretty funky on the stage. And now it looks like we’ll get to see James’ story on the big screen … but don’t expect the same old biopic material.

From Variety: ""The Longest Yard" scribe Sheldon Turner is set to write "Super Freak," a film about the life of colorful and controversial punk-funk singer Rick James.

Turner and (producer Jennifer) Klein have been interested in James since a Warner Independent Pictures exec gave them 400 pages of a memoir written by the singer, who died in 2004. James was a stylish performer also known for his long battles with cocaine and legal trouble." (Click here for the full article.)

The screenwriter claims to have no interest in a standard rags-to-riches biopic approach; I’m just curious to see who’ll play the main character. (Apparently Dave Chappelle wanted to do it a few years back, and that I’d certainly pay 8 bucks to see.)