|Weekend 13th - 16th December
For the third straight week Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone easily ruled ticket
boxes around Australia. Off 38% from last weekend, Harry Potter gathered another $3.2
million, upping its total to a massive $22.5 million.
The third weekend take of Harry Potter stands as the 6th largest third weekend of all time
in Australia, behind the $4.1 million long weekend takes of Stuart Little and the $3.8
million of Moulin Rouge, the $3.8 million of Babe, the $3.3 million of
Gladiator and the $3.2 million third weekend of The Sixth Sense. This falls just
ahead of the $3 million takes of The Phantom Menace and Shrek.
After three weeks of play only The Phantom Menace is outpacing the speed of the young
wizard and has actually decreased its lead over Harry Potter after increasing it to $2
million, or 11.5% ahead last weekend. The Phantom Menace is now $0.8 million, or only
3.5% in front after 18 days of play a piece. Although Harry Potter's dips of 44% and
38% are not terrible, they may well be a precedent for the next few weeks. This could signify
that Harry's fan base is already drying up. However, the introduction of the school
holidays may stem the declines somewhat. Even so, Harry Potter will find it hard to
keep making ground on the The Phantom Menace from now on as its fourth weekend fall was
only 21%. But with no new competition, Harry Potter has the family market all for itself
until boxing day when Monsters Inc. opens.
The third weekend fall of 38% Harry Potter compares much more favourably than the
disastrous 59% third week freefall it witnessed in the U.S., although that was to due in part
to an elevated Thanksgiving second weekend. However, the third weekend was still 35.6% stronger*
in Australia. This has given fuel to Australia's cume and it now stands 2.2% ahead* of the pace
of Harry Potter's U.S. performance after being 7.5% behind* last weekend. Harry
Potter stands a good chance of increasing that lead over the U.S., having to hold its
decline to at least 35% of its audience to do so. While it may not make the 21% fourth week dip
of The Phantom Menace, the complete lack of family competition and the introduction of
the school holidays gives Harry Potter a pre-Christmas clean slate to go nuts.
The second helping of a re-heated American Pie 2 didn't go down to well with audiences
over the weekend. A food poisoned crowd saw its pastry crumble 53% for a second weekend take
of $2 million. Starring Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Tara Reid, Shannon Elizabeth, Jennifer
Coolidge, Sean William Scott, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas
and Eugene Levy, the yarn about a group of boys who long to re-live their first times at a
lake over summer has now upped its cume to $8 million.
American Pie 2 is now pacing only 14% ahead of the pace of the original American
Pie in Australia, that's despite launching 83% ahead last weekend. This means word of mouth
is no friend to American Pie 2, especially compared to the original and will probably not
even match its $14.2 million gross. The 53% dip is spot on with the dip it suffered in the U.S.
and is now 8% behind* the pace it set there, after bowing 4% behind* meaning slightly weaker
mid week sales in Australia. While American Pie 2 ended up with a great $US145 million
in the U.S., it's weekly takes will continue to erode in Australia and will fall further behind
the pace it set there, and will fall behind the Australian pace of the original also.
American Pie 2 looks to reach around $12.5 million locally.
Opening with dull fright in third place was the new Columbia flick Thir13en Ghosts.
Launching on a medium 139 screens the flick managed a soft $0.6 million, arguably reflecting its
script the film averaged a weak $4,282 per storage cell. Starring Tony Shalhoub, Shannon
Elizabeth and F Murray Abraham, Thir13en Ghosts follows a family who inherit a huge
glass house after their uncle dies while capturing a really evil ghost. Things start to go wrong
when they realise the house is actually a demonic machine built control time and what have you,
and powered by ghosts, 13 of them in fact. The launch is 60% behind* the $US15.2 million it
opened with in the U.S. and 32% behind the $0.88 million the last Dark Castle horror production
of House On Haunted Hill. That film went on to make $2.4 million locally, Thir13en
Ghosts will be lucky to do $1.5. Thir13en Ghosts opened no where near my over
optimistic $1.1 million prediction.
Dipping by 33% through its third weekend, the Robert DeNiro flick The Score made off
with $0.4 million. With a total of $2.7 million to date, the flick about a team of
trans-generational safe crackers will probably end up with around $3.3 million.
Lantana held steady in fifth position over the weekend with $0.3 million and dipped by
a non-IMAX best 6%. Adding another 10 screens to its total, Lantana finally reached a 100
screen release in its 11th week. Lantana now has a brilliant $8.9 million and will find
$10 million by its end.
The Others was off 31% in its sixth weekend with $0.29 million in position six for $9.8
million. Riding In Cars With Boys dipped 29% and one spot to seventh with $0.21 million
and $2.8 million so far. Evil Woman launched as unspectacularly as its release shuffle
would suggest in eighth position with a meagre $0.17 million on a soft 76 screens. In advanced
previews the French comedy Amelie that became a huge hit in its native France and has
been toasting a solid run throughout the rest of Europe and the U.S. made $0.15 million from
20 screens and a non-IMAX besting $7,512 average. It opens on Boxing Day. Training Day
dropped 47% to position ten with $0.13 million. It has a fine $4.8 million.
The top 20 films made $8.1 million over the weekend, down 33.2%. This is down 2.4% on this week
last year when Chicken Run spent its second weekend on top with $1.5 million and
The Klumps and Bring It On opened in second and third with $1.47 and $1.37
million respectively. The weekend was down 7.9% on this date in 1999 when Pokemon: The
First Movie opened on top with $2 million, Toy Story 2 was off only 15% in its third
weekend with $1.5 million and The Blair Witch Project crumbled 59% in its second scare
with $1.4 million.
|Weekend Coming - Weekend 20th - 23rd December
Only one new wide release opens with weekend in the form of Vanilla Sky. Starring Tom
Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz and Kurt Russell, the film follows an overly confident
guy who is left disfigured after a jilted lover slams their car into a tree. Things then begin
to get strange. So strange in fact that director Cameron Crowe's (Almost Famous,
Jerry Maguire) new film has been blasted almost universally by U.S. critics as a bizarre
film that is too hard and weird to follow. Distributed by UIP in Australia, the Paramount film
opened last weekend in the U.S. to the tune of a very good but not overly spectacular $US25
million. Perhaps the romantic thriller should have bumped its opening to match that of the U.S.,
because bad word of mouth is already filtering through Australia and could hurt its box office
chances. In a smart move UIP already bumped up its release a week from the Boxing Day frame in
order not to compete directly with the openings of Lord Of The Rings and Monsters
Inc. to this strangely empty pre-Christmas weekend. Vanilla Sky opened much like
Cruise's Eyes Wide Shut in the U.S., both films of which had their real plot masked by
their trailers, one gave nothing away, one misrepresented the film. Still, maybe because of
Kidman's appeal in Australia, as has been evidenced this year, Eyes Wide Shut opened
very strongly in Australia despite the advanced word from the U.S. of a very strange story.
Tom Cruise himself and Penelope Cruz are flying out to Australia to promote Vanilla Sky,
leading on from his strong personal efforts to promote the film in the U.S. which have been in
the past hands-off to say the least. There's a backlash awaiting Cruise in Australia that is
very hard to judge. The much publicised split between Tom and Nicole split nothing in the hearts
and minds of Australians, as 100% of the public have been unified in backing Nicole and her
pictures. When Cruise and Cruz walk down the red carpet to the films premiere, the reception
that they receive from the surrounding public could very well show us how Vanilla Sky
will perform in Australia. It's a brave man who would risk a potentially hostile reception in
the heartland of his former wife, arm in arm with Cruz, the woman who many see fit to blame as
the cause of the split. This sort of tabloid hoopla will only effect a percentage of the
potential audience though, the rest will decide on the strength of the film. Since the film
hasn't opened and negative word hasn't yet spread to the extent it did with A.I., people
will be judging the film for themselves this weekend. Vanilla Sky may open with
around $1.8 million this weekend.
* Based on an index of 10/1 with currency, ticket prices, population and cinema visits per