Weekend 6th - 9th October 2005
The charts saw in additional degree of diversity over the weekend. Whilst there were nine films collecting over half a million and 12 over $400k at the Australian box office, the opening of The 40 Year Old Virgin became the fifth new number one in five weeks, the longest stretch without a repeat of the year and since August, September and October 2004 saw an 11 week stretch of films tussle for top honours. The Steve Carroll-starring The 40 Year Old Virgin gave UIP/Universal a solid number one bow of $2.13m over the weekend, their first chart-topper since Madagascar. Opening on 243 screens, Virgin earned a solid $8,748 on each of them, easily the best average outside of IMAX and the best since The Dukes of Hazzard's launch three weeks ago.
The opening weekend performance a touch better than The Stepford Wives' opening, arriving in position 217 on the All-Time Openers chart in Australia. As the 19th-highest opener of 2005 behind Miss Congeniality 2's $2.39m, while Virgin's $2.13m figure achieved a prestigious 10th-best on the October-openers list, just behind the $2.18m of 2001's America's Sweethearts. Of those similar openers, the Roberts-Zeta-Jones flick, scored $8.05m while the Bullock sequel collected $8.1m. As a comedy that's held up very well in the U.S., Virgin should be expected to easily pass the $6.3m final of Wives, but should it be expected to easily pass $8m?
The 40 Year Old Virgin has opened in Australia in a traditionally slow period, the holidays are over and other new openers will stir only moderate interest at best for the next month. Normally that would be good news, but general traffic at theatres will probably return to early September levels which means less overall flow-on effect to and from films. Whilst Virgin did very well in the U.S., so did Wedding Crashers, although comparatively* it didn't explode in Australia. It drew well upon release, but perhaps suffered through September due to few other films helping out to increase overall theatre traffic. It'll need to hold very well, but Virgin might be able to continue to produce Dodgeball type numbers. The Stiller flick opened with $2.34m and finalised with $9.6m in Australia.
Compared to the U.S. pace, The 40 Year Old Virgin's opening weekend comes in 1% down* in Australia, although when counting in last weekend's previews, it's $2.18m end of weekend total sits 2% ahead*. The comparatively similar opening figure is somewhat down on the 26% better* margin that Wedding Crashers achieved, although despite a fair showing in subsequent weeks, it continually lost ground* against a great U.S. run, now standing 17% behind*. Virgin saw a very similar track in the U.S., with weekend holds averaging 27%. In the current environment Virgin just doesn't have the capacity to match that holding power, and as such it'll struggle to reach $10m in Australia, with $8m are more reachable figure. Compared to my opening weekend forecast, The 40 Year Old Virgin's $2.13m actual opening came in 89% accurate to my $2.4m prediction.
Although through most weekends a brand such as 'second-highest fall in the top seven' would be disappointing, last weekend's champ Cinderella Man scored credibility despite it. The Russell Crowe-starring boxing drama was a drop of just 27%, and it was generally only family fare that out-held it. Landing in the runner-up spot in its second frame, Ron Howard's depression-era drama collected $1.01m to lift its total to $3.29m, moving the film to position 50 on the 2005 chart.
That total sees it stand 9% ahead of Sahara. Although it's opening weekend was 2% behind the McConaughey flick, including previews, it's a decline from Cinderella Man's 12% better post-opening weekend. The Renee Zellwegger co-starring flick is currently 13% behind The Island's two-week pace, up on the 16% smaller opening (including previews) and has pretty much covered off the $3.59m that Seabiscuit collected in 2003. As for Russell Crowe's films, Cinderella Man has passed the $2.16m and $3.16m of his 1991 and 1992 local films Proof and Romper Stomper. Without the aid of awards ceremonies, Cinderella Man will probably struggle to reach the $6.65m of his 1997 critics-pleaser L.A. Confidential.
Compared to the U.S. pace, Cinderella Man is now tracking a better 5% down* in Australia, a sizeable improvement on the 14% softer previews-assisted opening. The second weekend frame in Australia came in 4% up* on the comparative U.S. session, a swing from the 25% lower four-day opening-weekend frame. The impressive second weekend hold of 27% in Australia had more to do with a softer than expected local opening. Had the film bowed with closer to $2m, then the second-weekend decline might have been more in line with the U.S.' 47% drop.
As it did last weekend, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was just a hair behind Cinderella Man, this weekend by just $35k. Although it remained behind, sliding to third place, Were-Rabbit was able to do one better than Cinderella Man in its fourth weekend decline, dipping by 26%. That netted the Nick Park creation $0.97m for the weekend and raised its cume to a right-healthy $9.08m, now number 16 on the 2005 chart.
That total moved Wallace & Gromit ahead of Roadshow's leggy January family title Racing Stripes, which earned $8.6m from what has now proven to be an eerily similar first four weeks of weekly changes; 19, 5 and 26% against 15, 5 and 36%. Wallace & Gromit will have passed the $9.3m of BVI's Herbie Fully Loaded before this weekend, and now could have a shot of reaching the $11.02m final of The Pacifier. The Vin Diesel flick had $7.6m after four weeks, but what's more interesting is that it held $9.58m before the post-holiday bust when it slid 67%, adding another $1.5m from then on. Like any family flick Were-Rabbit has benefited from the holidays, but it's dependency on them isn't as total as is was for Pacifier. Were-Rabbit should have a shot of adding at the least, another $2m to its name outside of holiday play, i.e., from now on.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit finally opened in the U.S. over the weekend, and although it did better than in Australia and secured a number one opening, compared to the U.S. pace, the actual Australian opening proved to be 7% better*. Counting in previews, it's running 54% better*, although that'll drop next weekend. As in Australia, Were-Rabbit failed to surpass the opening that Chicken Run set back in 2000, which again suggests that star-power held more weight for audiences than the property itself. Chicken Run finished 50% better* in Australia, which if used to predict Wallace and Gromit's U.S. path based on an $11m final in Australia would net around $US74m.
Warner Bros. entered the charts again with their first release since The Island 10 weeks ago, and saw fine results with their romantic comedy Must Love Dogs. Directed by seasoned TV-series writer Gary David Goldberg, the film which follows a recently divorced woman who's sister places an add for her in a personals column collected $0.97m. Opening on 178 screens and averaging $5,453, the Diane Lane and John Cusack starring story sees its characters each borrow dogs so they can conform with the advert's description of 'must love dogs' as they meet at a dog park for their first date. The film was adapted from the Claire Cook novel of the same name and co-stars Elizabeth Perkins and Stockard Channing.
The opening for Must Love Dogs enters 2005's opening weekend chart at number 46, next door to various comedies such as Spanglish ($0.95m), Guess Who ($0.98m) and In Good Company ($0.99m). The Sandler, Kutcher and Grace flicks netted $2.7m, $3.9m and $3.5m respectively. Must Love Dogs holds more of a romance element than either of those flicks, so should hold better. For Actress Diane Lane, it's a touch down on the $1.22m of her 2002 drama/thriller Unfaithful and the $1.21m of last year's Under The Tuscan Sun. The Richard Gere co-starrer finished with $4.62m while the Italian-themed flick ran to a very solid $6.05m. For John Cusack, the opening betters the $0.89m of 2003's Runaway Jury, but trails the $1.31m of that same year's Identity and the $1.20m of 2002's similarly themed Serendipity. Those Cusack flicks finalised with $3.25m, $4.51m and $5.35m respectively.
Compared to the U.S. pace, Must Love Dogs' opening weekend came in 24% down* in Australia. Of Cusack's and Lane's recent romantic comedy entries, it's actually the largest opening deficit. Previously, Unfaithful opened 14% behind* locally, while Serendipity bowed 10% behind* and last year's Under The Tuscan Sun enjoyed a bow 24% ahead* in Australia. It's more along the lines of Cusack's co-starring effort America's Sweethearts which opened 24% down* and finished 14% behind*. Must Love Dogs has almost finished its run in the U.S., earning almost dollar for dollar of what Under The Tuscan Sun made in the U.S., although that won't be matched locally since Tuscan was such a strong performer, finishing 38% better* than the U.S. pace here. Given all of that, Must Love Dogs looks headed for somewhere just north of $4m in Australia.
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory suffered the largest decline in the top five and also fell harder than any of the other family pictures in release. Off 40%, that was of course due more to the fact that it's now the oldest family pic still pulling a sizeable audience, now in its sixth weekend, it still held better than Dukes, Serenity and Deuce. Collecting $0.74m through the weekend Charlie's cumulative total climbed to a massive $23.67m, buoyed by its last holiday-inflated mid-week session of $0.67m.
That total has moved Charlie into position 38 on the All Time list in Australia, passing flicks like The Matrix, Twister and last year's Troy. Should the film pull another $2m, as was theorised is possible with Wallace and Gromit, then it'd pass Madagascar, Monsters, Inc. and Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean. At the lest, Charlie should enough strength to trickle over $25m in Australia
Compared to the U.S. pace, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is now tracking 23% ahead* in Australia, up from last weekend's 21% lead* and almost back to the 24% better* pace that the film set when it first opened. The sixth weekend of the film was 70% better* in Australia - similar to last weekend - than in the U.S. where it declined a matching 40%.
- The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl had the best hold in the top ten, off just 18%. The five-week old film jumped two positions from eighth to sixth thanks to an $0.75n frame, which gave it a better weekend haul than rival Sky High for the first time. The Sony flick has done very well in Australia, as its a $5.13m local cume now stands a credible 40% better* than what is had after five weeks in the U.S.
- Although it was outdone by dolphin boy and magma girl, Sky High still held on very well, its 22% fifth weekend dip was the second best in the top 10. Holding in seventh position in its fifth weekend, the BVI adventure collected $0.73m - just $19k behind the Rodriguez flick - for a fine $5.79m.
- The Dukes of Hazzard crashed four slots over the weekend, down from fourth to eighth. Unable to retain last weekend's impressive hold, the Knoxville-William-Scott flick was off by a hefty 49% for an $0.62m weekend and a $9.23m total. Hazzard will have no trouble crossing $10m in Australia, now just 2% behind the four-week total of The Longest Yard, up from 3% last weekend. At the minimum it'll close with $10.5m.
- Last weekend's fan-heavy entry Serenity did alright in its second weekend, declining by 47%. As a sci-fi film with a large portion of its audience of the shake and bake variety, it held off any embarrassing second-weekend tumbles. Collecting $0.55m, the Joss Whedon written and directed property has been very well reviewed, which may have helped in countering that natural sci-fi depression. Still, it's total of $2.10m is less impressive than it is merely passable. Compared to the U.S. pace, Serenity is now tracking 17% ahead*, up from last weekend's 10% better* previews-assisted first weekend.
- Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo suffered the highest decline of the top ten, dissolving by 59%. The Rob Schneider comedy has done excellent business in Australia, certainly traffic to the sequel was heightened by some kind of evil alignment of the planets, but it appears that conjunction is now over. Collecting $0.45m, European Gigolo now has $4.80m. Rounding out at around $5.5m, perhaps even $6m, would be in excess of 50% of the $10.34m that the 2000 original made, productive on any Deuce Bigalow scale.
The top 20 films collected $10.79m over the weekend down 3.9% on last weekend but up 6.8% on this weekend from Last Year when Shark Tale rediscovered top position in its third lap with $1.70m while moved up to second with $1.15m and Anacondas: Hunt For The Blood Orchid opened in third with $1.07m. The weekend was up 9.2% on this weekend from Two Years Ago when a great fifth-weekend hold of 35% saw Pirates of the Caribbean jumped back into the top spot with $1.47m, pushing The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to second with $1.36m while Finding Nemo scored $1.08m in its seventh lap.
Weekend Coming 13th - 16th October 2005
The theme of 'chick flick' expands again this weekend courtesy of new opener In Her Shoes. Starring Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette the film is directed by Chris Hanson (8 Mile, Wonder Boys. The story follows two sisters who have had little contact for some time, while living very separate lives. They are brought together by a family tragedy where the sister's personalities - one a gregarious fun lover and one a straight-laced rationalist - clash again.
In Her Shoes opened in the U.S. just last weekend with a fairly unspectacular $US10.0m. Its opening isn't new territory for Diaz, who has anchored a few films in that range, but then again she's no stranger to much larger openings as well. Comparably In Her Shoes sits alongside her 2002 flick The Sweetest Thing, which opened with $US9.4m, but finished with a poor $US24.7m. In Her Shoes will do a sight better than that. The Fox-distributed film was a similar opener to director Hanson's $10.2m of 1994's The River Wild. In Her Shoes will need to hold well to reach that flick's $US46.8m final, although In Her Shoes has been quite well reviewed, so it might have a chance of it.
Over the previous two weeks we've seen top-placed openings from films who've enjoyed previews the weekend before wide release. In Her Shoes is hoping the trend follows through to make it three-weeks worth, facing off against The 40 Year Old Virgin and Must Love Dogs. In Australia both Diaz and Collette have a great record. In between a slew of high-profile hits, Diaz's The Sweetest Thing opened with $1.12m in 2002 and finished with $4.10m. Since her turn in The Sixth Sense, Collette has appeared as a co-star and supporting actress in many films, excusing Connie and Carla she has most recently anchored the impressive local film Japanese Story, a $411k opener and $4.41m in total.
In Her Shoes previewed in position 12 last weekend with $405k on 172 screens, similar to Wallace and Gromit's previews. They were well up on the $110k of previews from 132 screens that May's The Upside of Anger managed before an $0.76m opening and also the $280k that last year's The Notebook penned from 148 before a $1.06m launch. In Shoes' favour is the promising promotion that Fox have backed the film with. Having Toni Collette in their film is a certain draw to Australian audiences, a sort of Cate Blanchett-lite, who proved her stuff with Japanese Story. Their best bet is of course the poster-adorning Cameron Diaz who whirled through Australia on a promotional tour. Logically a star such as Diaz plugging the film locally should count for something if the likes of Schneider can stir interest in rubbish like Gigolo through similar methods. Depending on how well The 40 Year Old Virgin holds, In Her Shoes has a good chance of hitting top spot, although the continued breadth of product - the family portion of which will decline significantly this weekend - will probably prevent a launch over $2m. In Her Shoes might be receive enough understanding to produce a Closer-like of $1.6m this weekend.
* 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.
The Top 20 Films
Written By Paul Boschen
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