|Weekend 16th - 19th May
Not even Yoda could doubt the stunning victory at the Australian box office over the weekend as Star Wars: Attack of
the Clones launched into stratospheric territory, ripping apart nearly every box office record in the book. The second entry
of the epic George Lucas saga opened fire with a record-busting $11,967,380 over the regular four day Thursday to Sunday
period. The highly anticipated opening easily crushed the previous record holder, The Fellowship of the Ring by more
than $2 million. 2002 has become a boom season both in the U.S. and now in Australia with Spider-Man cracking the
unprecedented $US100 million opening barrier with a 14% margin just three weeks ago in the U.S., and now with Star Wars:
Attack of the Clones smashing through the local $10 million opening barrier for the first time with a 19.6% margin.
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is the second episode of the most successful film franchise in history and follows
the story of young Jedi Anakin Skywalker who is conflicted about his feelings for Senator Amidala and Jedi Master Obi-Wan
Kenobi's guidance at a time when unseen shifting forces threaten to tear apart the Republic. The light-sabre
wielding Jedi's opened on a massive 457 screens, the second largest count ever behind only last years record of 476 set by
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones averaged a staggering $26,187 per
screen as sold out sessions were reported around the country, easily surpassing the previous record of $24,568 for a wide
release film, funnily enough set by Star Wars: The Phantom Menace three years ago.
Breaking Star Wars: Attack of the Clones down reveals even more records to add to its highest average, highest
weekend and highest opening weekend honours. Clones opened to $3.1 million on Thursday, the second largest ever
opening day behind the $4.1 million Boxing Day holiday of Fellowship, and being a regular weekday counts as the
largest ever non-holiday opening day. Friday saw sales dip by 25% to $2.3 million giving it a second place finish to the
$2.4 million Friday of Fellowship. Clones set new records on Saturday as sales surged 52% to $3.5 million
giving it the largest ever Saturday and the second largest day ever, eclipsing its own three day old record. Sales eased
by just 14% on Sunday to $3 million, giving it the largest ever Sunday and allowing Clones a second, third and
fourth place sweep for highest single days.
The highest ever weekend record has fallen three times now in the last 6 months with Potter's $9.25 million passing
Menace's two and a half year record of $9.14 million by 1.2% last November. It took only five weeks for it to fall
again when Fellowship's $9.75 million flew past the boy wizard by 5.4%. But this time around Clones made sure
of it, trouncing Fellowship's five month record by a sizzling 22.7% and in doing so setting an amazing new
The opening of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones passed the opening of The Phantom Menace in Australia by a
terrific 31%, this is almost right on par with the U.S. performance of Clones over Menace as the film also
opened there this weekend a healthy 33% stronger than the original. When total four day comparisons are taken into account,
Australia emerges the victor with a slightly stronger* four day opening weekend of 2.8%. When the regular Australian four
day weekend vs. the U.S. three day weekends are compared, Australia stands a sweet 38.7% stronger*. However, this will
likely change next weekend as in the U.S. Clones will get a larger boost than would otherwise be the case during
the popular movie-going Memorial Day holiday weekend. In Australia Menace launched a few weeks from now this time
three years ago so its second week was positioned to fall on the Queen's Birthday holiday weekend, in doing so it scored a
record second frame that mirrored Menace's fortunes in the U.S. and still stands today. Two reasons account for
Clones not adopting that path this time out, Lucas wanted a global launch for Episode II and as such had to conform
to the optimal release strategy of the U.S. rather than what would be most profitable in Australia. Also, the other
mega-blockbuster of the season, Spider-Man, has claimed Her Majesty’s weekend as his own, being released the
Thursday before the Monday holiday. Of course, it would have been Spidey that flinched first if Fox had really
wanted that spot and a possible day and date U.S./Oz launch would have resulted for the web-slinger.
Attack of the Clones will find it hard to top the largest ever second weekend take without the aid of a long
weekend holiday, but it stands a great chance of landing in second place, needing a fall of 50% or less to come in above
Fellowship which dipped 40% in its second week to $5.87 million. Compared to my opening weekend projections
Attack of the Clones did meet the forecast of a year besting result, but it flew way past that $9 million mark.
Other films in release this weekend seemed to only be a formality, or if at least only an option for disappointed movie
goers turned away from sold out sessions of Clones. But while large drop-offs were expected across the board for
other wide releases, only one film in the top ten lost more than half of its audience. Being replaced by the highest
number one of the year was last week's lowest number one of the year, High Crimes. The Ashley Judd and Morgan
freeman thriller about a woman who seeks help from an unconventional military lawyer after her husband is charged with
murders he is accused of committing when he was in the marines collected $0.53 million over the weekend. Off a fine 35%
from its disappointing opening weekend, High Crimes now has $1.66 million to its name.
High Crimes is running 33% weaker* than the pace of the film in the U.S. after two weeks, and even there its
performance was considered poor. Like all other films, High Crimes will have to scramble for the pennies being
flipped to them by the occasional moviegoer as the distracting blockbuster season arrives. It may add another million or
so and end up in the $2.5 - 3 million range.
The Mel Gibson Vietnam war flick We Were Soldiers dipped one place to third over the weekend. Bringing in $0.44
million and off an understandable, even good 40% from last weekend, the Randall Wallace directed film has now raised its four week
sum to what some may consider a disappointing $6.3 million. At least Russell Crowe does, as he has reportedly exited the
idea of directed his own war film The Long Green Shore as a result of its less than stellar takings.
After four weeks of release We Were Soldiers is currently tracking a slight 3.2% ahead* of where the film was at the
same point of time in the U.S. We Were Soldiers should fall faster from now on than it did in the U.S. from week
four and finish with an end result weaker* than the states of about $7 million.
The Count of Monte Cristo claimed fourth spot over the weekend with $0.33 million. The Guy Pearce / Jim Caviezal
swashbuckling tale of revenge was on the high end of declines, dipping 45%. After three weeks of release its $2.3 million
total is running 28% behind* the U.S. pace of the flick after the third comparative week. The Count of Monte Cristo
should end up with close to $3.2 million
John Q ended up in fifth place for the weekend, off 42% for an $0.3 million haul. It's $2.6 million in three weeks
trails the U.S. effort by a quite large 49%. John Q will probably end up with around $3.3 million.
Elsewhere in the charts, 40 Days and 40 Nights spent another week in sixth position and earned $0.27 million while
it was there, off a good 32%. The Josh Harnett film now has a fine $3.3 million to its name and should end up in the
vicinity of $4 million.
Panic Room decided it didn't want to movie this weekend also, remaining in seventh position with $0.25 million. The
Jodie Foster thriller just passed the $10 million mark over the weekend for a dandy six-week cume of $10.05 million. Off a
mild 34%, Panic Room should end up with about $10.5 million
The new Jim Carrey flick The Majestic also opened this weekend, although most of the country either didn't know or
chose not to. Apparently all in vain, the major advertising campaign that seemed a little like overkill after the dismal
showing the film saw in the U.S., it just didn't connect with moviegoers. The Frank Darabont directed film opened on a
soft 56 screens and scored an average of just $4,336 adding up to a poor $0.24 million for the weekend. The Majestic
wont have the holding power it needs to get it through to the long weekend where it could have had a chance making some
money. Its poor showing this weekend was a little over a third of even my cautiously small $0.6 million.
Gosford Park had the best showing in the top ten, off by only 4% from the weekend before. The English mystery has
made it to a spectacular $6.88 million on the back of a $0.19 million weekend
Next up in tenth place was the film with the poorest showing in the top ten, Collateral Damage. The Arnie flick was
off a pretty poor 56% and could only muster $0.18 million in just its third week of release. Its $1.8 million cume so
far should grow to about $2.2 million.
The top 20 films collected a Jedi inspired $15.6 million over the weekend. The top 5 films alone were up a phenomenal 322%
over last weekend while the top 20 was up a more subdued, but still amazing 159.7%. Its one of the largest week by week
increases of the top 20 in history, records showing that the week that Menace launched in 1999 was up 167% on the
previous week. This could mean that each new Star Wars film was probably helped to huge opening successes by
launching after weekends that become infamous for one of the quietest weekends, the calm before the storm so to speak.
The weekend was up 119% on this weekend last year when the first blockbuster of the season The Mummy Returns was
down 41% in its second weekend with $3.2 million. The weekend was up 81% on this weekend two years ago when Gladiator
ruled in its third weekend with a boffo $3.3 million, off just 23%.
Weekend Coming - Weekend 23rd - 26th May
Two films open this week with high hopes and but no chance of dislodging Episode II from the top of the charts. The first of
them is The Mothman Prophecies, and it will most likely be the concept behind the film that sells it to audiences
rather than the minimal star power it can offer. Starring Richard Gere, Deborah Messing from TV's Will and Grace,
Laura Linney and directed by Mark Pellington (Arlington Road), The Mothman Prophecies follows a reporter
who loses his wife in a small town after a car crash and reports of the supernatural by his terminally injured wife.
2 years later he is inexplicably drawn back to the town as the local cop is dealing with multiple reports of a moth-like
creature, reports that are strikingly similar to those his wife made two years ago. The Sony film opened in the U.S. in
January with a good $US11 million and went on to earn a respectable $US36 million of its moderate $US42 million production
budget back. Distributed by Roadshow in Australia the supernatural themed thriller has been gaining a significant amount of
promotional time on both the theatre screens and TV spots. The last horror film out in Australia was Resident Evil,
but that didn't perform too well with anyone other than genre fans leaving The Mothman Prophecies with space to
cross over to a wider demographic of people looking for a scare. Prophecies has a more adult cast and feel to its
name, maybe even the Richard Gere name can get the Dali Lama and his followers to buy a ticket while they are in town.
Aside from that, The Mothman Prophecies will easily be able to steal second base a scare up a $1.2 million opening
this weekend - there's surely a whole bunch of people out there that have seen Clones already and want something
Also opening is the Kevin Kline feel good film Life As A House. Also starring Hyden Christiansen, in his second role
on our screens in two weeks, you can't help but feel that just maybe Roadshow is trying to take advantage of his other
little film out at the moment. But why not? Life As A House is supposed to appeal to a much different demographic
than Clones, even if that demographic is out seeing Hyden in his Jedi role. Life As A House follows the
story of a man diagnosed with cancer. Needing to make the most of what he has left in life he takes custody of his wayward
son in the hopes of repairing their relationship by way of building a house together. Directed by Irwin Winkler (At
First Sight, The Net), the New Line opened in the U.S. back in October last year with $US249,056 on a limited
29 screens. The $US18 million film went on to expand to 1288 screens but only managed a final tally of $US15.6 million.
While eligible for Oscar glory, Life As A House failed to nominate, but that hasn't stopped the shameless exploitation
of genuine Oscar winner American Beauty's name in its promotions. Like The Majestic, Life As A House
has had significant promotion despite its rather bland U.S. run. Usually films that don't gel with audiences in the U.S.
have a difficult time here, especially if they are American films, sometimes there are exceptions. Life As A House
won't be and may only find its was to around $0.4 million this weekend.
* Based on an index of 10/1 with currency, ticket prices, population and cinema visits per