Weekend: 27th - 30th April 2006
Spending its final weekend on top of the charts was Fox's crushing Easter Champion Ice Age: The Meltdown. Its first three weeks of stunning figures were rounded out by a $1.89m fourth frame, off 38% through what was the final weekend of school holidays in most states. With a Four-Week Cume of $21.99m, the Ice Age sequel ranks as the 20th-fastest grossing film in Australia, one notch ahead of Madagascar at the same point in time.
Last successful year's Computer Animated flick had an almost identical $21.91m in the vault by its fourth weekend and enjoyed a fifth weekend above $1m - can The Meltdown do the same this coming weekend? At 0.3% ahead of Madagascar, it's almost unchanged from weekend three's 0.4% better pace. From its fourth weekend onwards Madagascar added an extra $3.51m to its eventual $25.43m haul, with The Meltdown a solid shot to do the same. Doing so means the difference between remaining in slot seven on the CGI list or moving to a possible fifth place above the $25.62m of Monsters, Inc..
Compared to the U.S. pace, Ice Age: The Meltdown is now tracking 31% ahead* in Australia, up again from last weekend's 22% lead* and the 23% weaker* opening weekend. The fourth weekend frame of $1.89m comes in 43% better* than the comparative U.S. fourth frame. Off 38% locally, it was slightly larger than the 34% fourth U.S. dip. If The Meltdown can retain its 31% lead*, it'd be the largest positive margin of any CGI film to gross over $10m locally.
Eight Below did very well in its second weekend, jumping one spot to second place, off only 4%. Although a commendable hold, it needed to do well, as the last weekend of the Easter holiday period is now gone along with its best money making days. Last weekend's opening of $1.06m barely lowered to a $1.01m second-weekend take, while its rather dull opening average of $4,162 declined to $3,916. Playing on a very wide 258 screens, there's little doubt that more was expected from Eight Below, easily the second-widest film in release. After two weeks, Eight Below has rescued $3.00m.
The takings are a fair margin below the two top weekends of 2002's similar BVI-distributed Snow Dogs. The Cuba Gooding Jr. flick expanded successfully and a lot like Eight Below has just done, barely saw any change in takings in weekend two. However Dogs' timing, i.e., before the holidays, gave the flick four very solid weeks and an eventual $10.16m. Does Eight Below have much chance of holding on after the holidays? It's second weekend hold is the most artificial in the top 20, so chances are that it won't and reaching half of Dogs' final could be challenge.
After an opening weekend which came in 48% weaker* than the comparative U.S. launch, Eight Below is now tracking 33% behind* in Australia. The local second weekend take counted 36% smaller*. The local $0.83m mid-week session was quite good, although still 10% down* on a Monday public holiday-boosted first mid-week in the U.S. Rewinding two weeks, Eight Below's debut was only 59% accurate to my $1.8m forecast.
Final Destination 3 scored a fair debut in third place with $0.99m, just shy of the $1m mark. With James Wong back at the helm of the series he created, the third entry in the series scored the best debut of the three. The Roadshow property opened on 147 screens, a touch more than the second film's 141 and the first's slim count of 113. Despite the higher screen count, Final Destination 3 still enjoyed the brightest average of the series at $6,743, up on No.2's $6,580 and No.1's $5,501.
The opening came in $63k, or 7% better than Final Destination 2's $0.93m opening from 2003, while it was 59% stronger than Final Destination's $0.62m opening. The first and second films finished with $2.88m and $3.06m in Australia, with the third also set for a final around $3m. Final Destination 3's opening has solidified the Final Destination series as a success in its own right, leading on from a second film which was the more impressive on the box office side of things. The first film did alright for itself, but the series' continued strength in its audience's eyes has netted it some rather odd consistency, especially for a film series in this genre. On the horror scene, only the Scream flicks have been so consistent.
Compared to the U.S. pace, Final Destination 3's opening comes in 48% weaker* in Australia, out from the 42% smaller* launch of Final Destination 2 and the 38% smaller* bow of 2000's Final Destination. While the three films in Australia have seen opening increases from film to film of 49% and 7%, in the U.S. the growth from film first to second was 60% and from second to third it was 20%, reflecting a smaller appreciation of the franchise in Australia.
Scary Movie 4 slipped two spots on the weekend chart to fourth place in its third weekend. The fourth entry in the series continues to make good money however, collecting $0.82m through the frame. Defying harsh falls and dipping 47%, Scary Movie 4's ability to keep its declines just shy of 50% is an achievement in its own right, especially for what really is a rare and perhaps perceived as a dirty thing; a film with a '4' following its title. Whatever the perceptions from the turtle necks, this film has made a killing at the box office and has totaled $7.87m in just three weeks.
Easter has been kind to the film and it will probably fall over 50% this weekend. With most of its money already made, making it to $10m will be a struggle, probably a target a touch too high. Its three-week cume puts Scary Movie 4 13% ahead of where Scary Movie 3 was after three weeks, despite very similar weekend for weekend takings. It's been the mid-week sessions, thanks to Easter, that have been the more fruitful and given Scary Movie 4 the edge at the box office over its predecessor, which closed to $8.23m in Australia.
Compared to the U.S. pace, Scary Movie 4 has actually edged ahead in Australia, now tracking 1% up* thanks to a third session ranking 5% better*. It's the first time a Scary Movie film has ever done better* in Australia than in the U.S., although even if that final margin doesn't stay positive, the weekend was at least some kind of highlight for the franchise in Aus. Previously the Scary Movie films finished 26% weaker*, 43% weaker* and 25% weaker*.
American Dreamz also managed to crack the top five over the weekend with surprisingly decent figures. The film which without argument was an abortion on arrival in the U.S. two weeks ago, opened on 153 screens in Australia and netted a $0.66m bow. Featuring a fairly long cast including Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid, Mandy Moore, Willem Dafoe and Chris Klein, UIP was somehow able to market American Dreamz at least partially correctly. The opening weekend actually came in 83% better* locally when compared to the U.S. bow.
The top 20 films collected $10.63m over the weekend, down 11.2% on last weekend but up 28% on this weekend from Last Year when The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy bowed on top with a great $2.68m, while fellow newbie XXX2: The Next Level began its poor run with a worryingly reasonable $1.19m. The weekend was up 47% on this weekend from Two Years Ago when Gothika opened to a top-placed figure of $1.62m, pushing Kill Bill: Vol. 2 to second with $1.34m.
Weekend Coming: 4th - 7th May 2006
Mission: Impossible III heralds the beginning of 2006's busy season, with the early May opener looking to reset the year's growing record books. The Tom Cruise-starring franchise returns for a third journey under the helming of first-time theatrical director J.J. Abrams, who's built a resume of credit on the small screen with Alias and Lost. Cruise is reunited with Ving Rhames, while Keri Russell, Michelle Monaghan, Laurence Fishburne and the film's new baddie Philip Seymour Hoffman all jump onboard. Written by Alias scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, Mission: Impossible III follows agent Ethan Hunt who must return to duty at IMF and re-assemble his old unit to track down an international weapons dealer.
Mission: Impossible III enjoys a global launch this weekend, with only a couple of unlucky countries such as Japan and India missing out. In 1996, the original Brian De Palma-directed Mission: Impossible opened in late May with a then towering $US45.4m. The $US80m film held well enough and ended up with $US180.9m, the third-best effort for the year behind Independence Day and Twister. Upping the budget to $US125m for the sequel, Paramount and Cruise enlisted John Woo as director for Mission: Impossible II. Opening to $US57.8m four years after the original, its opening was then the third-best of all time with the film eventually finding $US215.4m in the U.S.. Worldwide, M:I collected $US456.5m, while M:I2 crossed the half-billion mark with $US545.9m.
In Australia, Mission: Impossible was a hit-worthy affair, although wasn't quite as potent as it was in the U.S., opening with $3.89m and closing to $15.03m, the fifth-best performer of the year. The opening came in 14% behind* the U.S. pace while the final closed at 17% weaker*. In 2000, Mission: Impossible II enjoyed a healthy boost, arguably thanks to its Australian setting. Its opening of $6.39m was then the third-best of all time, coming in 11% better* than the U.S. bow, while its final of $22.47m was the second-best haul of the year behind only Gladiator, 4% up* on the U.S. final.
How high can it open this weekend? Based on hype alone the thinking is it should crush the $5.25m of April's Ice Age sequel, but is that so sure, let alone the $6.39m of Mission: Impossible II? That flick was a follow up to a much stronger original film than the hollowness that Mission: Impossible III has to redeem itself from. The changes in opening power from The Matrix trilogy are testament to the influence that a previous film might have on any follow up. Excluding the fully planned mega-franchises of Star Wars, Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter, so far the best opening for a property's third film stands with The Matrix Revolutions at $8.03m, while Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines follows closely at $7.31m. Can Mission: Impossible III do better? It may not open as high as many expect and collect $4.8m this weekend.
* Based on a US index of 10/1 ($US/$AU) with currency, ticket prices, population and cinema visits per head.
^ Based on a UK index of 1.27/1 (£/$AU) with currency, ticket prices, population and cinema visits per head.
The Top 20 Films
Written By Paul Boschen
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