|Weekend 1st - 4th August 2002
What's all this About A Boy? Well enough Australians were willing to have that question answered for them over
the weekend as they made the film the number choice in a weekend which in which is was pretty much guaranteed of doing so.
As the only real major new contender for the top spot, the Hugh Grant starring picture echoed the success the film had in
its native UK by grabbing another number entry and guiding Grant down the same road he enjoyed with the likes of Bridget
Jones's Diary and Notting Hill.
Bowing on a wide 260 screens, About A Boy collected a dandy $1.95 million for a good average of $7,494 per theatre.
The film follows Will, a bachelor who attends single parent meetings in the hope of getting lucky with a good woman, but
then unexpectedly becomes friends with a young boy named Marcus. Eventually the boy begins to teach Will that there's more
to his life than he's currently getting and that responsibility may actually be worth its while. Co-starring Toni Collette
and Rachael Wiesz the opening for About A Boy was clearly enough to take top spot and was higher than the number one
films of the previous two weeks, but it does
stand a ways behind most of the openers of the previous ten weeks. Also the opening is only around half of that of both
Grant's previous mentioned films which opened with great numbers of $3.9 and $4.6 million respectively, but which both
featured Grant in a co-starring capacity. The previews of $0.63 million About A Boy scored last weekend signalled
a bigger opening weekend than it experienced, as is was on the larger side of what films tend to preview with before their
publicised released, especially for a film that had no hardcore fan demographic. Counting in those previews About A Boy
now has a fine total of $2.7 million leading into a second weekend that should see it have a small decline and remain in
Comared to the opening the film had in the U.S. in May, About A Boy launched a healthy 123% stronger* in Australia
and when previews are factored in the film is running a hot 217% stronger*. Without beating around the bush, About A
Boy's opening was only modest in the U.S., even if Grant didn't have a co-star it could have been expected to do
better. It's final total there would signal a comparative* $4 million in Australia, a total the film should eclipse by
the end of next weekend. Compared to About A Boy's opening in the U.K. where Grant has a much higher standing, as
does the source material on which the film is based, it comes in below par, or 25% behind^. As final totals go, About
A Boy would need to collect $11.9 million in Australia to equal^ the final U.K. total.
While About A Boy did go on to meet my expectations of a top spot bow - and easily as no other film collected over
$1 million, it was still a few notches lower than my predicted $2.3 million launch.
The film was always going to rise this weekend with the addition of 19 extra theatres, but Bend It Like Beckham also
jumped another place over the weekend to second. It's having a darn solid shot at getting to number one, but that path is
probably a tad unrealistic with the competition it faces, or rather the battles waged between other films for that spot
will be out of Beckham's league, rather than considering them direct competition. With About A Boy entering
the charts at number one, British films hold the number one and two slots in Australia, and with Ali G still in the
top ten, the count is three. Bend It Like Beckham will have to be the only of them without a top spot finish, but
it may very well have the last laugh when all is said. Getting to the results at hand, Bend It Like Beckham rose
8% over the weekend to boot $0.86 million into its 90 nets, still on its way to 100 screens. It's screen average of $9,595
was the first time the film dipped below $10,000, but that was still enough to be able to declare itself as having the
highest average of any non-IMAX film in the top 20.
With a current total of $7.3 million, Bend It Like Beckham continues goal week after week with moviegoers and looks
like $10 million will be a figure it could reach in about three weeks time. Compared to the performance the film had
reached in its native U.K. after five weeks, Bend It Like Beckham is running a sweetly hot 17.5% better^ here, which
is surprising but great at the same time, considering the film is very British with it's soccer theme. The film does
revolve around the central issue of racial barriers, that's something many foreign born, and generational Australians face.
That, and it's a worthy film of it's attention. The film increased it's lead over the U.K. performance from last weekend
when it was 15.2% stronger^ after four weeks, thanks mainly to its additional theatres. The film should continue to
increase that lead right up until the end of its run, if the film were to match^ the U.K.'s final take, then only a $7.9
million final would suffice, something the film will have passed by mid weekend.
Falling two places to third over the weekend was the Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate and Selma Blair starring comedy
The Sweetest Thing. Usually focused on a duo, sometimes trio of friends, but for story's sake, a solo Christina meets
the guy of her dreams in a bar and spends the rest of the film conflicted about whether she should change her assertive
ways and take on a relationship with a guy who may be more than Mr Right Now. The Sweetest Thing managed to score
$0.79 million over the weekend for what was a very surprising and very respectable 29% fall from it's very respectable
debut last weekend. Although there was very few other 'romantic comedies', or more broadly 'chick flicks', out when The
Sweetest Thing opened, the onset of About A Boy should have well filled a large part of that void. Instead
The Sweetest Thing resisted that with great poise to be one of best holders in the charts.
The Sweetest Thing should be counting itself lucky with its current total of $2.3 million in 11 days, as the film
should start to follow the U.S. pattern it set and experience larger declines of over 40% in the next couple of weeks.
The film opened a more even 18% stronger* in Australia last weekend when compared the U.S. performance, well, at least
more even than when compared to the rate after two weeks, which shows Australia lunging to 37.8% ahead* of the U.S. pace.
This is the result of the 40% plus dips the film experienced in the U.S. week after week, which goes some way towards
explaining why the good hold in Australia is an anomaly. Due to those large falls awaiting The Sweetest Thing, at
least eventually, if not this weekend, the film should end up with a 'still just ok' $4.2 million, down from its current
descriptive performance of 'very respectable'.
Also opening, but down in fourth place was the new Nicolas Cage starring and John Woo directed Windtalkers. Set in
WWII and following the U.S. drive towards Japan, the film focuses on the unbreakable code derived from the Indian Navaho
language used by U.S. forces, which was instrumental in allied victories over Japan. The film opened on a medium 156
screens with a soft $0.73 million. The success of that opening could be considered debatable by some due to the very poor
faith its distributor had in the film and sparsity of advertising the film received which pretty much amounted to
stealth-like release. But when you compare it to recent other war films of late, with the exception of Hart's War,
Windtalkers really doesn't stack up too well. It's opening screen average of $4,719 per radio also tells its
When you compare the opening here with what was considered by its distributor MGM to be a poor showing in the U.S., then
you get a clear idea of how the opening stands. Windtalkers opened in the U.S. eight weeks ago to poor
results, but Australia's opening stands 49.6% behind* that opening, highlighting the reflective lack of faith it's
distributor had in the picture in this country. The film was well down on the performance of Mel's We Were Soldiers
which opened with $2.4 million, the last successful star driven war film. Editors note: Sorry about the missing prediction
for Windtalkers in last weeks report, assuming the technical errors explanation.
The other film in release co-starring Australian Toni Collette is the local gangster film Dirty Deeds. Still
plugging away in fifth position, the Bryan Brown starring film made off with $0.57 million in its third shake-down as it
saw patronage from its slot-machines dip by 34%. The film now has a total of $3.5 million after three weeks, still tracking
ahead of Brown's Two Hands which had $2.8 million after the same turn. Although Two Hands did experience a
far superior holding in its third week, off just 9% for $0.66 million.
- Falling out of the top five and down one position to sixth place was Men In Black II. Considering the film has had a
large number of patrons through the door already, and it is a general sequel in its fifth week, a high decline of 40% or
more wouldn't have been out of place for the Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones starer. However the film dipped by a very fine
28% which allowed the Men to secure $0.51 million and up its cume to a great $16.5 million. While to film will still be
in the charts for another few weeks, its looking less and less likely that the film will beat out Scooby-Doo to
reign as the number one movie released during the new concluded winter school holidays. A great final total of around $17.5
million should greet the second outing in Sony's profitable franchise.
- Considering this weekend was filled with surprisingly strong holds, the 40% third weekend dip for Ali G In Da House
is one of the larger ones. Conceding that the picture was never going to be one for staying power, the films dip is better
than last weekends and meant the film was able to talk its way to $0.42 million and a seventh place. The Sacha Baron Choen
flick now has $3.3 million in its bank and should round out with a nice $4 million. Compared to the U.K. performance after
three weeks, the film should have had^ $5.8 million if it was to match that pace and a final comparative total of $7
million would have been on order, signalling the larger fan base in the U.K.
- Blade II dipped another spot to eight over the weekend, experiencing the smallest decline to date in its fast burn
four week career. The Wesley Snipes flick was off by 35% during the weekend to collect $0.31 million. This elevated the
cume to $5.6 million, 21.6% ahead of where the original Blade was in Australia after four weeks, of 44%. Compared
to the U.S., Blade II is running 24% behind* the four week pace.
- Unfaithful was also down only one position to ninth over the weekend as the Dianne Lane and Richard Gere flick was
eased by 36%, also in its fourth weekend. With a $4 million total, Unfaithful should conclude with an ok $4.5
- After its subdued opening last weekend, the re-named and shuffled pic Road Kill was off by 34% in its second outing.
Starring Paul Walker, Leelee Sobieski and Steve Zahn, the pic about a crazed truck driver who wants to make the pranksters
pay for their ill-fated fun fled with $0.28 million adding to its soft $0.87 million total.
The top 20 films collected $8.1 million over the weekend, down by just 3.2%. The top films were down by 12.9% from this
weekend a year ago when that other Hugh Grant flick Bridget Jones's Diary remained on top with $2.9 million in its
second frame, of by just 25% and The Animal scored a solid entry as number two with $1.9 million. The weekend was
up 15.7% on this weekend two years ago when local film Chopper opened on top with a nice $1.2 million and The
Patriot was off 33% in its third frame, also with $1.2 million.
Weekend Coming - Weekend 8th - 11th August 2002
Leading the crop of new films out this weekend is the new Kevin Costner flick Dragonfly. Co-starring Ron Rifkin and
Susanna Thompson the film is directed by Tom Shadyac, the man responsible for Ace Ventura, Liar Liar and
Patch Adams. Dragonfly follows the basic story of a doctor who is convinced he is being contacted by his
dead wife through some of his patients near death experience. The Universal picture opened in the U.S. in February with
a so so $US10.2 million and went on to earn a slow $US30 million of its hefty production budget of $US60 million back.
Dragonfly had its trailers playing in theatres a lengthy five months ago, suggesting a release date change at one
point. However, the last month has seen an assortment of advertising and promotions for the film create a little bit of
awareness here. Dragonfly performed much like The Mothman Prophecies in the U.S., opening slightly lower and
collecting around $US5 million less in the end. The Richard Gere thriller was a reasonable performer in Australia, although
its concept and marketing were much more appealing than that of Dragonfly. While neither actor would be highly
regarded as box office gold, Costner is now more associated with highly publicised tankers than he is a capable leading
actor. Dragonfly will have trouble re-creating the performance of Mothman in Australia, even when launching
in a much less competitive frame, ie, its not going up against the second weekend of Attack Of The Clones. Still
the film may duke it out with Bend It Like Beckham for second place this weekend and about $0.7 million.
Also opening is the new Nicole Kidman film Birthday Girl. Co-starring Ben Chaplin and directed by relative newcomer
Jez Butterowrth, the film follows John who orders and internet bride from Russia. This begin well when it turns out Nadia's
lack of English skills are made up for in the bedroom. However its not long before Nadia's past catches up with her and
John is drawn into her world of crime. Not many people would have heard of Birthday Girl before now, as there's been
relatively little advertising for the picture. Although it does star Nicole Kidman, an asset that any distributor would
be crazy not to take full advantage of in a blitz of advertising, they have their reasons for the lax effort. For much the
same reason Windtalkers was an under-publicised film, Birthday Girl opened in the U.S. back in February with
a not so happy $US2.3 million. Suffering from the same syndrome that struck Angelia Jolie after some great success, Nicole
Kidman's Birthday Girl was produced for only $US13 and was a relative no-show on the box office radar, ending up
with just $US4.9 million. Birthday Girl has at least had its trailer played in theatres, but unless your actively
searching for more advertising about the film you may very well come up short. Birthday Girl shouldn't hassle the
top five and may open with only $0.4 million or so this weekend.
The other new wide release of the weekend is the comedy The New Guy. Starring Eliza Dushku and DJ Qualls, the film
is directed by first timer Ed Decter, who previously only wrote and produced TV shows. The plot follows Dizzy who gets
himself expelled from his current school because he cannot shrug his image of being a geek. Everything goes well at his new
school for his new cool image until a jealous boyfriend uncovers the dirt about his old persona. The Sony picture opened
in the U.S. in May to a decent $US9 million and went on to earn a fine $US28 million, more than doubling its $US13 million
production budget. How appealing this film looks to 14 to 16 year olds is the question. The New Guy holds little for
those above that age. It should give Birthday Girl a fight for the coveted seventh position and also open around $0.4
* Based on a US index of 10/1 with currency, ticket prices, population and cinema visits per head.
^ Based on a UK index of 2.1/1 with currency, ticket prices, population and cinema visits per head.