Ben Stiller‘s new comedy
The Heartbreak Kid stumbled in its opening frame and
forced the overall box office to plunge to the worst October weekend in eight
years. Incumbent family comedy
The Game Plan posted a strong sophomore hold and
retained its position as North America’s most popular film. But two other new
releases did nothing to energize the multiplexes as the top ten films together
grossed what just the top three pictures did a year ago on this same weekend.
The calendar may say October but the dismal box office grosses make it seem like
September never ended.
Surprising industry watchers once again, Disney’s
The Game Plan held onto the
number one spot for a second time grossing an estimated $16.3M for a slim 29%
decline. That gave
The Rock‘s first entry into the world of kid’s movies a solid
$42.8M in only ten days allowing the PG-rated comedy to already surpass the
grosses of his last two films
Gridiron Gang ($38.4M) and
Doom ($28M). All three pics were number one openers. Last weekend, many expected
Game Plan to
debut in second place behind
The Kingdom while this weekend
widely seen as debuting on top. In both cases the quarterback daddy flick
swiped the top spot and with little family competition in the weeks ahead, a
trip to the $100M club could be in the works.
Disney is still benefiting from the fall season’s shocking lack of product for
families. For the third consecutive weekend, seven of the top ten films carried
giving parents few other options for their children. The studio has virtually no
foes to deal with until
Jerry Seinfeld‘s animated pic
Bee Movie hits theaters on
November 2. Game Plan‘s second weekend drop was even smaller than the 40%
decline that the studio’s
Vin Diesel family film
The Pacifier experienced in
March 2005 on its way to a stunning $113.1M tally. The Game Plan now looks
certain to surpass the $90.5M of 2002’s The
Scorpion King to become The
Rock’s highest grossing film in a lead role.
The weekend’s big disappointment came from the Ben Stiller-Farrelly brothers
The Heartbreak Kid which debuted in second place with an
estimated $14M from 3,229 theaters. Averaging a mediocre $4,345 per site, the
R-rated film marked the first reteaming of the actor with the filmmakers since
1998 sleeper smash
There’s Something About Mary which grossed a stunning $176.5M
that year. Heartbreak was universally expected to open at number one
and was thought to have the potential to capture at least $20M in opening
weekend business for DreamWorks and Paramount. The budget was more than $60M,
according to the studios.
For Stiller, Heartbreak‘s opening was half the size of the bows of his other
recent comedies like
Night at the Museum ($30.4M),
Starsky and Hutch
($28.1M), and Along Came Polly ($27.7M). Those were PG or PG-13 films but the
comedian was still expected to draw a large crowd this weekend. However
for the Farrelly brothers, the performance was better than the $12.4M of their
Pitch in 2005 and the $9.4M of 2003’s
on You. Reviews were
mostly negative which is par for the course with these types of comedies.
The Heartbreak Kid put Stiller’s box office power to the test and the results
were discouraging. Most of the comedian’s hits feature other big stars to help
a paying audience. This time Stiller was the only major name and audiences did
not bite. In fact the launch was very similar to that of rival R-rated romantic
Good Luck Chuck which debuted to $13.7M and a better $5,227 average just two
weeks ago. That film offered some star wattage from both genders with
Dane Cook and
Universal’s Middle East drama
dropped 46% in its second weekend to an estimated $9.3M and placed third. The
Jamie Foxx pic has taken in
$31.4M in ten days and should find its way to $50-55M. Sony’s action-horror
Resident Evil: Extinction fell 47% to an estimated $4.3M and pushed its
17-day cume to $43.5M.
Failing to find an audience on opening weekend was the fantasy adventure film
The Seeker: The Dark is Rising
which bowed to an estimated $3.7M from a
very wide 3,141 theaters for a dismal $1,186 average. The PG-rated pic from the
new venture between Fox and Walden Media targeted young boys but got
nowhere at the box office. Seeker‘s debut was even worse than the $5M launch of
Dragon Wars from just two weeks ago which went after the same audience.
But thanks to a sluggish marketplace, Seeker‘s weak opening still landed the
film in the top five even though its nearly $40M budget will take much time to
The Lionsgate comedy
Good Luck Chuck grossed an estimated $3.5M, off 44%, for a
$29.1M sum. The dance drama
Feel the Noise delivered a seventh place
debut with an estimated $3.4M from just 1,015 theaters. Averaging a mild $3,350
per site, the PG-13 film played to urban teens and came from the new
Sony/BMG film division.
The weekend’s most notable fireworks came in limited release as the increasingly
crowded arthouse scene saw some red hot numbers from awards hopefuls.
George Clooney led the way with his legal thriller
Michael Clayton which bowed
in only 15 theaters but grossed an estimated $704,000 for an astounding
$46,933 average. Powered by strong reviews and starpower from the Oscar-winning
actor, the R-rated film is hoping to keep the momentum going when it
expands nationally on Friday into more than 2,400 theaters.
A pair of acclaimed filmmakers enjoyed encouraging sophomore expansions with
their latest efforts and delivered the next best averages.
Wes Anderson‘s comedy
Limited widened from two New York houses to 19 locations in seven
markets and grossed an estimated $553,000 for a powerful $29,099
average. Fox Searchlight will continue to open in more cities over the next two
weekends before going nationwide into more than 800 playdates at the end of the
month. Ang Lee‘s NC-17 romantic thriller
Lust, Caution also held up very well as
it entered new cities. The Focus release went from a solo Manhattan house to
17 venues and collected an estimated $369,000 for a potent $21,696 average.
Totals stand at $$477,000 for Lust and $781,000 for Darjeeling.
Also expanding and still generating good averages in their third frames were
Into the Wild and
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Paramount Vantage widened
Wild from 33 to 135 houses and
grossed an estimated $1.3M for an impressive $9,593 average. Warner
Bros. made a leap from five to 61 locations with Jesse and made off with an
estimated $408,000 for a respectable $6,689 average. Cumes are $2.5M and
$746,000 respectively and each film will continue to add more cities and
theaters in the weeks ahead.
Not faring well in its national expansion was the drama The
Jane Austen Book Club which grossed an estimated $1.5M from 1,232 sites for a weak $1,247
average. Last weekend, the Sony Classics release averaged $4,700 from only 41
venues. Total sits at $2M.
Sony’s Beatles-themed musical feature
Universe continued to have
great legs easing a mere 8% in its fourth outing to an estimated $1.9M. With $8M
in the bank from limited release, the Julie Taymor-directed pic goes wide on
Friday into more than 700 sites. Universe joins the music-themed films
Once as movies with some of the best legs at the box office over the last
several months. But it was a sad tune for Universal’s teen comedy
which tumbled 49% to an estimated $1.3M for a weak total of just $10.2M. Look
for a poor $13M finish.
The top ten films grossed a disappointing estimate of $61.9M which was down a
substantial 37% from last year when
Departed debuted in first place with $26.9M; and off 23% from 2005 when
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit opened in the top spot with
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week at the movies, we’ve got honeymooners (The
Heartbreak Kid, starring
Michelle Monaghan), teenage heroes (The
Alexander Ludwig), bookworms in love (The
Jane Austen Book Club, starring
Blunt), and fledgling rappers (Feel
the Noise, starring
Zulay Henao). What do the critics have to say?
For Rhode Islanders, the work of
Peter Farrelly has long been a source
of regional pride; their best work (There’s Something About Mary,
and Dumber) deftly combined taboo-busting, gross-out yucks with an
undeniable sweetness. So it breaks the heart of this Ocean State native to
report that their latest,
The Heartbreak Kid, isn’t generating all that
much warmth with the critics. Based upon
Elaine May‘s 1972 semi-classic, Kid
stars Ben Stiller as a recently-married guy who quickly learns his new bride has
much more baggage than he bargained for; on his honeymoon, he meets Miranda
(Michelle Monhagan), who just might be the right gal for him. The pundits say
that while the film does contain a smattering of raunchy laughs, they seemed
shoehorned into the film, undercutting character development and any kind of
message. At 48 percent on the Tomatometer, this Kid isn’t alright. It’s
certainly a cut below the original (at 89 percent).
Also opening this week in limited release:
Lake of Fire,
expressionist, evenhanded documentary about the abortion debate, is at 100
percent; Desert Bayou, a doc about the plight of African-American
Hurricane Katrina refugees in Utah, is at 100 percent;
My Kid Could Paint
That, a portrait of an artist who’s a very young girl (and may not be solely
responsible for her highly-valued canvases), is at 100 percent;
For the Bible
Tells Me So, a doc that explores the Good Book’s teachings on homosexuality,
is at 89 percent;
Kurt Cobain: About a Son, an impressionistic look at
the life of the Nirvana frontman, is at 82 percent;
starring George Clooney as a corporate whistleblower, is at 81 percent (check
out our review from the Toronto Film Fest
Finishing the Game, a
mockumentary about an attempt to complete
Game of Death after
his untimely demise, is at 50 percent; and
The Good Night, starring
Gwyneth Paltrow in the tale of a romance that takes place in a man’s dreams, is
at 46 percent.
Recent Ben Stiller Movies:
44% — Night at the Museum (2006)
Tenacious D In: The Pick of Destiny (2006)
25% — School for Scoundrels (2006)
55% — Madagascar (2005)
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
Following a six-week streak of R-rated films topping the charts, The Rock‘s family comedy The Game Plan led the box office last weekend. Now, adult fare comes back to claim the crown with the new Ben Stiller comedy The Heartbreak Kid which is aiming for an easy number one debut. Also opening nationally are the fantasy adventure The Seeker: The Dark is Rising and the music-filled drama Feel the Noise. With the Columbus Day holiday falling on Monday, some students will have extra time off making for a solid start for the month of October.
Almost a decade after There’s Something About Mary became a sleeper smash, directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly reunite with Stiller for another raunchy relationship comedy with The Heartbreak Kid. A remake of the 1972 film written by Neil Simon, the Paramount release stands as another number one hit inherited from the DreamWorks factory. The pic tells the story of a man who marries too early and then falls for another woman during his honeymoon. In the past year, the R-rated envelope-pushing comedies Borat, Knocked Up, and Superbad grossed nearly $400M in combined domestic box office proving that there is gold to be mined in this genre when films are made well and deliver the laughs that audiences want.
Plus star-driven comedies with major Hollywood faces routinely lure moviegoers away from the home and into the multiplexes. Heartbreak will probably not reach the $30.7M opening weekend figure of Knocked Up which had more buzz plus opened in June when most college students were out of school. But reviews so far have been quite good for this type of film so adults will certainly give it a try. And with so many dark and serious films about outlaws, vigilantes, and terrorists out there, audiences definitely want something light and funny right now. Opening in over 3,000 theaters, The Heartbreak Kid may debut with about $27M this weekend.
The Middle East drama The Kingdom has been ranking number one during the week since kids are busy with school and less able to see Game Plan. Universal should see a 45% drop to about $9.5M which would put the Jamie Foxx actioner at $32M after ten days. Look for Resident Evil: Extinction to slide 50% to roughly $4M leaving Sony with $43M to date.
LAST YEAR: October kicked off with a bang with the top spot debut of Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed with $26.9M. Warner Bros. went on to gross $132.4M domestically and $288M worldwide plus scored four Oscars including the coveted Best Picture statue. Opening in second place with $18.5M was Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning which was the first of three horror sequels that month. New Line found its way to $39.5M. Sony’s toon hit Open Season dropped to third with $15.6M in its sophomore frame. The Lionsgate comedy Employee of the Month bowed in fourth with $11.4M on its way to $28.4M. The Guardian rounded out the top five with $9.6M in its second weekend.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com