“The Wedding Planner” was still living happily ever after in first place this weekend.
The PG-13-rated romantic comedy from Columbia Pictures and Intermedia Films continued to show great legs in its second week with a shapely estimated $11.0 million (-19%) at 2,785 theaters (theater count unchanged; $3,950 per theater). Its cume is approximately $28.2 million.
“Down 19%. You couldn’t hope for better than that,” Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning.
“It’s turning out absolutely the best you could have possibly hoped for — number one two weeks in a row and Valentine’s weekend coming up and Presidents’ holiday after that. We certainly now are believers that we’ll be in excess of $50 million (in domestic theaters). This is a very profitable picture for both us and Intermedia.”
Jere Hausfater, president, worldwide distribution and acquisitions for Intermedia Films, pointed out Sunday morning that Lopez is incredibly hot right now with the unique combination of a number one movie and a number one record album (“J.Lo,” which arrived in stores Jan. 23).
“On behalf of Intermedia/IMF, I would say Sony has done an incredible job as well as Jennifer Lopez‘s management and publicity people in launching the record and the movie,” Hausfater said.
“This is really one of those situations where music and movies come together, and it’s one of those situations where all that could have been done was done. This is one of those examples where everyone talks about how music can supplement the movie and the movie can supplement the music. I think both these stood on their own and made not only the number one CD for Jennifer Lopez, but now the number one movie two weeks in a row. It’s very, very unusual.”
As Hausfater pointed out, Lopez‘s twin success in music and movies at the same time is unique. Lopez‘s record album captured first place on pop charts in the U.S., Canada and Germany last week and is a top five album on the charts in the U.K., Australia and Italy. It marks the first time in the U.S. that an artist has placed first at the same time on both the music and movie charts.
Reflecting on how well Sony did overall, Blake noted, “We do have four of the Top Ten once again this weekend.” Besides “Wedding,” Sony has “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” in fifth place via Sony Pictures Classics, Columbia’s “Finding Forrester” in eighth place and Screen Gems’ “Snatch” in ninth place.
Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow’s R-rated horror film “Valentine” opened in second place to a sharp estimated $10.12 million at 2,310 theaters ($4,381 per theater).
“We’re thrilled. Anything over $8 million would have been fantastic. The whole movie cost $10 million,” Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. “To gross your production cost in three days is fine and even if it follows the normal drop-offs of a horror movie, we’ll be in good shape with this film.”
20th Century Fox’s PG-13-rated drama “Cast Away,” which was third last week, tied for third place in its seventh week, showing strong legs with an estimated $7.4 million (-8%) at 2,648 theaters (-243 theaters; $2,799 per theater). Its cume is approximately $203.0 million.
“It hit $200 million on the 44th day, which is just great” Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said Sunday morning.
Asked where “Cast” might wind up in domestic theaters, Snyder replied, “Without awards, it could be at $220 million and with (Oscar) nominations and any kind of awards, it could go to $225-230 million.”
Given the film’s Golden Globe win for best actor/drama, Tom Hanks is likely to be a best actor Oscar nominee.
Paramount’s PG-13-rated teen appeal drama “Save the Last Dance” from MTV Films, which was second last week, tied for third place in its fourth week with a still lively estimated $7.4 million (-24%) at 2,570 theaters (+9 theaters; $2,879 per theater). Its cume is approximately $68.7 million.
“I had it (heading for) $80-85 million,” Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. “But I wasn’t planning, quite frankly, on a hold quite this strong this weekend. I think it’s in the $85-90 million range now. It certainly will be over $80 million now, but just how far I don’t know.”
Sony Pictures Classics continued its very successful widening of its critically-acclaimed, PG-13-rated action adventure “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” “Tiger,” which was sixth last week, tied for third place in its ninth week with a very-promising estimated $7.4 million at 1,161 theaters (+293 theaters; $6,374 per theater). Its cume is approximately $53.5 million.
“Tiger” had the highest per-theater average for any film playing in wide release last weekend.
USA Films’ R-rated Oscar contender drama “Traffic” dropped two pegs to sixth place in its sixth week with a still-encouraging estimated $6.29 million (-3%) at 1,580 theaters (-1 theater; $3,983 per theater). Its cume is approximately $64.9 million.
“Traffic,” which won Golden Globes for best screenplay (Stephen Gaghan) and best supporting actor (Benicio Del Toro), is considered a likely contender in the Oscar race. Its director, Steven Soderbergh, is a Directors Guild nominee for both “Traffic” and “Erin Brockovich.”
“It depends on the Academy Awards,” USA distribution president Jack Foley said Sunday morning when asked where “Traffic” is likely to wind up in domestic theaters. “We’re looking at about $80 million. With Academy Award nominations, it’s more than $80 million.
“Next weekend, with the Academy Award nominations, these movies will be above this weekend’s business. That’s why dropping so little this weekend is so critical. You begin feeling the noms this coming weekend, even before they’re announced. Before the noms, Monday’s usually the biggest day of the week for the increase in the pictures, so at the end of that week you’re up over this week. Then you go into the weekend after the noms, Presidents’ weekend, and you’re up because of the noms and the holiday. Some of these pictures are up as much as 45% to 50% over the week of the nominations.”
Universal’s PG-13-rated youth appeal comedy “Head Over Heels” opened in seventh place to a quiet estimated $5.01 million at 2,364 theaters ($2,120 per theater).
Columbia Pictures’ PG-13-rated drama “Finding Forrester” held on to eighth place in its seventh week with a solid estimated $4.4 million (-5%) at 1,983 theaters (-19 theaters; $2,219 per theater). Its cume is approximately $41.5 million.
“It continues to hang in there in a crowded market,” Sony’s Blake said. “Now we’re pretty confident we’ll be over $50 million (in domestic theaters).”
Sony’s Screen Gems label’s R-rated drama “Snatch” slid two slots to ninth place in its third week with a less-grabbing estimated $4.1 million (-13%) at 1,240 theaters (-204 theaters; $3,306 per theater). It cume is approximately $21.8 million.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Miramax’s PG-13-rated romantic comedy drama “Chocolat,” a likely contender for Oscar nominations, in its eighth week with a tasty estimated $3.7 million (+10%) at 1,173 theaters (-30 theaters; $3,164 per theater). Its cume is approximately $22.5 million.
OTHER OPENINGS This weekend also saw the arrival of Cloud 9’s drama “Left Behind: The Movie,” the widely-publicized drama targeted to Christian moviegoers that reportedly sold 2.8 million videos at $30 apiece (grossing $75 million) when it was released last fall and is now arriving in theaters. “Left” was left far behind in a tie for 18th place with an uninspiring estimated $1.8 million at 862 theaters ($2,075 per theater).
Focusing on the film’s video sales, one studio distribution head commented Sunday morning, “You’ve got an approximate cost of $6-8 factor on each of those cassettes (for manufacturing and shipping). If they were sold retail, they’re going to take a piece off, too.” With 2.8 million cassettes sold, that would represent anywhere from $16.8 million to $22.4 million in manufacturing and shipping costs.
The video sales, he added, could have been done via television rather than retail stores: “There are so many of these religious programs on TV and cable, they could have gone that route. Certainly, if you plug into the Baptist or the Catholic system and get their endorsement, I suppose it’s possible to have a huge profit. If they were to have gone with a Catholic or Baptist endorsement, they would have had to give the church a piece of that. But, still, at that price there’s a huge profit there.
“If you’re going to send this directly to the consumer from some shipping plant you would eliminate the retail (percentage of the gross). But you’d have to have some organization endorsing it, so they would get 20% or 30% or some number. But still you’re looking at a $20 net however that may be split up.” At $20 profit per cassette, sales of 2.8 million copies would generate about $56 million. “They made a lot of money, I think,” he said.
As far as the film’s theatrical release, he noted, it’s not going anywhere. “Best case would be $7-8 million (in domestic theaters),” he said. “Four times their opening would be a strong (showing). The norm is it’s just an average playability on a picture, you can calculate about three times the opening. If it’s poor playability, it would be two or two and a half times (the first weekend gross). You’re probably looking at $4-5 million (for ‘Left‘).”
USA Films’ PG-rated drama “In the Mood For Love” arrived in 25th place to a very lovely estimated $0.11 million at 6 theaters ($19,000 per theater).
“We have four theaters in L.A. and two in New York,” USA’s Foley said Sunday morning. “New York’s selling out. It’s a really amazingly good opening for a foreign language film. We had a very conservative plan for (releasing) the picture because it’s a very delicate film. I think based on these openings — particularly in Los Angeles, (where) the Asian communities in Orange County and Pasadena really flocked to the film — I’m looking at maybe getting more aggressive. I want to get a couple more markets open before we really get confident about it because it’s truly delicate.”
Written and directed by Wong Kar-Wai, “Love” stars Tony Leung and Maggie Chung.
Fine Line Features’ R-rated drama “The Invisible Circus” arrived in 27th place to a quiet estimated $0.053 million at 105 theaters ($500 per theater).
Directed by Adam Brooks, “Circus” stars Jordana Brewster, Chistopher Ecleston and Cameron Diaz.
Lions Gate Films’ R-rated drama “The Million Dollar Hotel” from Icon Productions opened poorly in 28th place to a weak estimated $0.033 million at 10 theaters ($3,270 per theater).
Directed by Wim Wenders, it stars Jeremy Davies, Milla Jovovich, Jimmy Smits and Mel Gibson.
SNEAK PREVIEWS Columbia held 621 sneak previews Saturday night of its PG-13-rated comedy “Saving Silverman.” “They were approximately half full,” Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning. “But there were lots of teenagers, and they all rated it well above average. I think that gives us confidence going up against ‘Hannibal’ next weekend.”
“Silverman” will open at about 2,500 theaters, Blake said, adding, “It’s an interesting maneuver. We chose going up against a picture that’s obviously going to open huge with the specific idea of being two things they can’t be — funny and PG-13.”
Directed by Dennis Dugan, “Silverman” stars Jason Biggs, Steve Zahn, Jack Black and Amanda Peet.
EXPANSIONS On the expansion front, this weekend saw no significant activity outside the Top Ten.
WEEKEND COMPARISONS Key films — those grossing more than $500,000 for the three days — took in approximately $95.82 million, up about 12.49% from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $85.18 million. This weekend’s key film gross was up about 4.17% from the previous weekend this year when key films grossed $92.07 million.
Last year, Dimension Films’ opening week of “Scream 3″ was first with $34.71 million at 3,467 theaters ($10,013 per theater); and Universal’s sixth week of “The Hurricane” was second with $4.94 million at 2,148 theaters ($2,300 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $39.6 million. This year, the top two films grossed an estimated $21.1 million.