|Weekend 10th - 13th April 2003
There were six new films to enter the top 20 over the weekend, and three of them managed to fill the top three positions.
The best of the bunch was the Rowan Atkinson spy comedy Johnny English. Bucking the trend of non-Austin Powers
spy comedies in their failure to open well, Johnny English's $2.39 million launch has made certain it wasn't going
to be another Tuxedo or I Spy. Also starring Natalie Imbruglia, the film follows hapless MI-7 secret agent
Johnny, who is recruited by the British government to stop an evil French guy, as if there were any other kind, from
taking over the world. Opening on a wide 252 screens, Johnny English enjoyed a good $9,490 average, the second best
of the new openers for the weekend.
Apart from being seen in many films such as Scooby-Doo or Four Weddings in a cameo or bit part capacity,
before Johnny English Atkinson's only other starring role of any significance was in 1997's Bean. That film
was a commercial success at least, if not a disappointment to fans of the TV series of the same. In comparison to that
film, Johnny English's opening comes in a large 42.8% behind, although a comparison is largely unfair as people
were going to see "Mr Bean" back in 1999 rather than Rowan Atkinson. Probably sighting what works well for the actor,
putting him into more strange and funny situations that will strike memories of his Bean days is the main selling
point for this film. Johnny English doesn't really have a chance of reaching the $19.2 million final of Bean
having opened so far behind. Over the next two weeks the performance of Johnny English will let us know if it
will be more of a Spy Game, which opened with $2.44 million and ended up with $6.2 million, or more like
American Pie which opened with $2.36 million and ended up with $14.2 million.
The film has yet to open in the U.S., but it has opened over this same weekend in the U.K. Although figures are yet to
come in, it should have been able to also open on top. Compared to my opening weekend forecast, Johnny English's
debut was rather humbling as it defied my second placing prediction of the new openers to collect a cool $1.1 million more
than my $1.2 million prediction.
In second place was the unlikely success Fat Pizza. For what was essentially nothing more than an elongated episode
of the TV show, its saturation TV and radio advertising paid off very well for the film. Opening with $1.16 million, the
film was able to top the bow of Shanghai Knights, which must allow the film to gain a little credit for its
good performance, if not its content. Featuring all the regulars from the SBS show including Paul Fenech, Paul Nakad
and John Boxer, the cameo laden flick also managed to draw a very cool $$11,530 average from a sparse 101 screens. The
sweet average indicates that many more people actually sought the film out with an intention to watch it, rather than just
showing up at the cinema with no other option - because there were plenty of options.
The Opening for Fat Pizza is fairly close to the $1.25 million of the locally produced and critically welcomed
2000 flick Chopper. As to whether its a matter of irony, Chopper, who is represented via a cameo from Merv
Hughes in this film, ended up with an acceptable final total of $5.79 million. Though the bow has been good for Fat
Pizza, getting excited about an equally rosy final total may be a tad premature as, this film's audience is largely
fan base material. As a cult TV show, it's built in audience may well be more loyal and selective against the mainstream
than a comic book film, meaning that it's subsequent weekly declines will be large.
The three way duel casualty was the comedy sequel Shanghai Knights. While not exactly dead on arrival, the strength
of the first film, at least in entertainment quality if not commercial success in Australia did warrant a higher debut for
the film. Seeing the return of Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson in their respective Chon Wang and Roy O'Bannon roles, this time
the fish out of water and happy go lucky duo head off to Britain in order to seek revenge on Chon's father's killer. There
they meet up with Chon's sister who has uncovered a plot to assassinate the Royal Family which would see a new order imposed
on both the UK and China. Opening with $1.03 million, the film deployed on a medium-wide 183 screens to achieve a fairly
uninspiring average of $5,650 per screen. This stands as the lowest opening weekend screen average for a film to open
above $1 million this year, and besides cartoons and kids films, last year as well, which highlights just how under
distributor expectations the opening was.
The opening for Shanghai Knights is down a fair slice on the $1.59 million of the original, which is kind of
worrying and in the same vein confusing. The 2000 opening for Shanghai Noon was then considered a so-so bow for
what the film was expected to do. Unlike in the U.S. where the sequel improved upon a good performance of the original,
the series has gone from acceptable to very disappointing. The original ended up with a final of $5.2 million, and it looks
like Knights will fall well short of that, especially when you factor in Anger Management's potential
to sap audience away from all other comedy films this weekend.
Compared to the opening weekend, Shanghai Knights' debut in Australia was a hefty 47.2% down* on the respective
opening weekend in the U.S. It was expected that the launch would be down on the U.S. opening, but such a large margin
leads almost into the inexplicable. The original film opened a much healthier 18.6% behind* the U.S. pace through its
opening weekend here, and managed a final tally just 8% behind*. Even if Shanghai Knights does improve on the
current deficit it sees itself in, it won't improve by much. Compared to my opening weekend forecast, the $1 million take
was well down on my $1.8 million prediction.
The confusion at BVI must still be at the fore due to the below average, or almost poor continuing performance of
Bringing Down The House. For a film that did amazing business in the U.S. week after surprising week, it's 38%
second weekend dip going into the holiday period is much higher than expected. If failing to achieve a good hold going into
a holiday weekend is disappointing, then that on the back of a very mediocre debut of adds a little insult as it should
have managed a decent hold. Collecting $0.83 million in its second weekend, the film starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah
about an odd couple man and woman who experience a vast array of cultural clashes has collected a unfavourably cool $2.61
million in 11 days. Perhaps if its distributor had focused more on some sort of targeted advertising campaign or had
Martin come out to promote the film it could have made all the difference. Despite the very different ethnic build of
Australia than the U.S., there was potential here for this film to do very well, but for whatever reason Bringing Down
The House has failed.
As last weeks number two film, Bringing Down The House dropped two places to fourth thanks to the three new openers.
Those three new openers could very well be the reason House was unable to sustain itself in a commendable fashion
as each new flick targeted the comedy crowd and made off with good to very good bows, largely sapping the audience pool
Bringing Down The House was counting on. After two weeks Bringing Down The House is now tracking 32.4%
behind the pace of Martin's Bowfinger and 18.6% behind the pace of Big Momma's House after two. This is out
from the 14.5% deficit after the opening weekend. Something to hearten BVI, Momma also recorded a 38% second weekend
dip, but managed to score a third weekend rise and a good hold in its fourth weekend, so there is still hope that the film
can reach the $7.98 million final of Momma, but that looks all the more difficult now because of the wide variety
of choice in the comedy field at the moment.
Compared to the U.S. pace, Bringing Down The House is tracking 57.2% behind* in Australia after two weeks. This is
out slightly from the 56.7% deficit after the opening weekend, but perhaps disproportionaly so, as the second weekend
dip for the film in the U.S. was only 29.1%. This coming weekend will be the real test for Bringing Down The House
in Australia. Can it replicate Momma's third weekend rise, or will it continue to fall? With the wide choice of
comedy film already, and Anger Management looking to expand that choice even further, things do not look good for
Bringing Down The House. Perhaps this is a film that would have performed better during a quieter box office
period when competitive choice was at a minimum.
Ned Kelly wound up in fifth place over the weekend, unable to hold off the three new openers as it did last weekend.
Pummelled by the new openers, the Heath Ledger flick fell four positions from first, its 46% tumble is bad news for the
film that was positioned strategically ahead of the school holidays, in the hope that it would see a second wind last for
at least three weeks. Exhibitors shed 81 screens from its total - that many in only its third week - wising up to word
that most people aren't really sure of this pic and would rather spend their money on bad foreign product than bad local
product. Collecting $0.8 million, Ned Kelly has seen its total climb to an ok $6.2 million, although many would
ideally like to have seen that doubled by now.
Compared to Eyes Wide Shut, Ned Kelly is now tracking 10.6% ahead after three weeks of play, up again from
the 7% advantage it has last weekend. Although the Cruise/Kidman flick dipped by a similar 50% in its third weekend, the
film wasn't playing through a holiday week and therefore saw lower mid-week takings. Maybe Ned Kelly still has a
small chance to level out in its depreciations, but with the heavy competition coming in the weeks ahead, most cinemagoers
will have mutants and algorithms on their minds. Ned Kelly still looks on course to end up with around $8 million.
The top 20 films collected $9.99 million over the weekend, up 20.7% on last weekend, but down 7.8% on this weekend from
last year when both Panic Room and The Time Machine were late arrivals on the end of the school holidays
bowing with a decent $2.61 million and an ok $1.67 million respectively. The weekend was down 29.1% on this weekend from
two years ago when the five day Easter Monday long weekend saw takings surge by 63% from the weekend before as
Crocodile Dundee In L.A. opened on top with $2.25 million and almost all films saw some sort of rise from their
takings the week before.
Weekend Coming 17th - 20th April 2003
Fresh from its extremely loud but un-astounding debut in the U.S. just last weekend, Anger Management looks set to
shake up the Australian box office in a way that hasn't been done since January. If the U.S. debut was impressive, the lack
of surprise stems from it just being another Adam Sandler comedy - the type of film who's commercial successes have
surprised to no end in the last five years, so much so that anything that happens now is not. This time out Sandler has
teamed up with screen legend Jack Nicholson and Sony has elected to appoint The Klumps and Tommy Boy
director Peter Segal. The story follows Dave, who while on a flight is unfairly accused of losing his temper and is
subsequently sentenced to anger-management therapy. The court assigns Dr. Buddy Rydell, who's aggressive and unorthodox
therapies are of course intended to be the catalyst of most of the films jokes from then on.
As mentioned, the film only just opened in the U.S., but managed to score a spectacular $US42.2 million opening weekend to
count as Sandler's best opening to date, and the largest launch ever for the month of April in the U.S. Produced for a very
large $US75 million, considering its just a comedy, the film's launch is akin to Sandler's June 1999 pic Big Daddy,
which launched with $US41.5 million. In fact, they sit together on the all time list of biggest openers in the U.S. in
positions 45 and 46. Launches, at least for the 'successful' Sandler pics have regularly entered the charts with a
similar amount. His first uber-success was with 1998's $US39.4 million launch of The Waterboy and last years
Mr Deeds entered with $US37.2 million. Despite Nicholson's high profile this is very much a Sandler picture, the
opening also counts as his best entry to date with his previous best the $US40.4 million of 1989's Batman.
In Australia, Sandler has still enjoyed a huge level of success even if his films haven't reflected totals collected in the
U.S.*. As examples, The Waterboy opened 15.8% behind* and finished 30.4% behind* and Big Daddy opened 34.8%
behind and finished 10.4% behind. Last years Mr Deeds opened 27.5% behind* and finished 30.0% behind*, marking a
run that was consistent with the U.S., at least in its ability to keep steady the initial difference. The best launch to
date for a Sandler film in Australia is the $3.31 million of The Waterboy with the $2.7 million of Big Daddy
and the $2.69 million of Mr Deeds following it up. As in the U.S., Anger Management looks ready and able to
create a new best opening for Sandler in Australia. In favour of this occurring is the timing of its release during the
school holidays, this weekend the entire country will be on vacation from school allowing for a nationwide push to
theatres, as opposed to last weekend when it was a little over half of the sates. Last weekend the top four films were
comedies, can the charts accept another to make it five? It seems the country is in the mood for a laugh. With the current
crop receiving luke-warm word of mouth at best, its not a matter of how much room there is for all these comedies, but how
much room Anger Management will create for itself as it pushes other films aside. Yes, there is direct competition
from these films for Management's audience, but the duo of Nicholson and Sandler will be irresistible. Advertising
has been good and although the trailer is nothing special, it has been very effective. Sandler will also be doing the
promotion rounds from the U.S. this week on TV, so look for Anger Management to talk $3.8 million out of moviegoers
* 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.