Box office analysis: Feb. 17

Moviegoers celebrated Presidents Day weekend by voting Washington–Denzel Washington and John Q–into first place with $25 million.

Also driving the crowded four day holiday weekend were lively openings for Crossroads with $17 million and Return to Never Land with $15 million-plus.

Among holdovers, Big Fat Liar enjoyed nearly $12 million in family business, Collateral Damage slid 34 percent but still did close to $11 million and A Beautiful Mind did almost $10 million on the heels of its eight Oscar nominations.

Also arriving were Hart’s War to a less heartening $10 million and Super Troopers to an okay $7.5 million given its modest acquisition cost.

Key films–those grossing $500,000 or more–did $161.5 million, up nearly 16 percent from last year’s $139.7 million for four days. This year goes into the history books as Hollywood’s biggest Presidents Day weekend ever, beating the record established last year.


(NOTE: Today’s estimates are for the four day period from Friday through Monday. Estimates for the three day weekend are indicated parenthetically. Percentage comparisons are to the previous three day weekend plus Monday, Feb. 11.)

New Line’s John Q captured first place at the holiday weekend box office with a record setting ESTIMATED $25.0 million at 2,466 theaters ($10,138 per theater). (Its estimated gross for three days was $20.63 million.)

Despite a critical drubbing, John Q set a record for a Presidents Day weekend opening, beating the record set by New Line’s The Wedding Singer of $21.92 million the weekend of Feb. 13-16, 1998. Over the years, however, a number of holdovers have done better than $25 million for Presidents Day weekend, including Hannibal with $33.5 million last year.

John Q‘s average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.

Directed by Nick Cassavetes, it stars Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, James Woods, Anne Heche, Kimberly Elise and Ray Liotta.

“We’re thrilled,” New Line Distribution president David Tuckerman said Sunday. “The CinemaScores were all between A- and A+ across the board. The demographics look like they’re 50-50 (male-female). The exit polls were 95 percent in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good). The definite recommend is 90 percent.”

Focusing on the film’s largely negative reviews, Tuckerman noted, “We’ve had three movies in a row that the public really loved and the critics did not–Life As A House, I Am Sam and this one. The public really liked all three of these movies. This one is going to do business. The public likes the movie.”

Asked where John Q could be heading in domestic theaters, Tuckerman replied, “If you use a formula of three times (the opening weekend gross), it gets you to $75 million–although this is a four day (total and the formula might not be quite the same as with three day weekends). It’s a little too early to say.”

Paramount’s PG-13 rated youth appeal Britney Spears comedy Crossroads kicked off in second place to a high energy ESTIMATED $17.0 million at 2,380 theaters ($7,143 per theater). (Its estimated gross for three days was $14.6 million.)

Directed by Tamra Davis, it stars Britney Spears.

“We’re happy with it,” Paramount Distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. “Going in, I was looking for maybe $12 million or so for the three days and we’re close to $15 million for three. It’s playing across the board (in) large markets and small markets. The top grosses are out of the L.A. market, but then you’ve got some of the (other big) grosses coming out of places like Jacksonville, Chicago, San Francisco and even Canada’s doing well with the picture.

“The demo is primarily young females–about 84 percent young females and 67 percent of those are under 15. It’s very young and female. We knew that’s who it was. And they give it an excellent response, of course.”

Buena Vista/Disney’s opening of its G rated animated Return to Never Land placed third with an enchanting ESTIMATED $15.55 million at 2,605 theaters ($5,970 per theater). (Its estimated gross for three days was $11.8 million.)

Universal’s PG rated family comedy Big Fat Liar dropped one notch to fourth place in its second week with a still happy ESTIMATED $11.87 million (-3%) at 2,534 theaters (+3 theaters; $4,685 per theater). Its cume is approximately $25.4 million, heading for $40-50 million in domestic theaters. (Its estimated gross for three days was $8.7 million.)

Directed by Shawn Levy, it stars Frankie Muniz, Paul Giamatti and Amanda Bynes.

Liar, which was made for only about $15 million, should be very profitable for Universal.

“For this little niche family film to do this kind of business and be the number four film in the marketplace is absolutely incredible,” Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. “We’re just thrilled. There are other choices for (families to see). Return to Never Land is obviously younger kids. Crossroads is getting a young audience even though its PG-13. And Snow Dogs (is also playing to families). There’s a lot for the family audience to choose from this weekend and Big Fat Liar was a major choice for them.”

Warner Bros. and Bel-Air Entertainment’s R rated terrorist action adventure Collateral Damage slipped four pegs to fifth place in its second week with a less damaging ESTIMATED $10.55 million (-34%) at 2,824 theaters (theater count unchanged; $3,736 per theater). Its cume is approximately $30.0 million. (Its estimated gross for three days was $9.05 million.)

Directed by Andrew Davis, it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger.

MGM’s R rated World War II drama Hart’s War opened in sixth place to a quiet ESTIMATED $10.00 million at 2,459 theaters ($4,067 per theater). (Its estimated gross for three days was $8.27 million.)

Directed by Gregory Hoblit, it stars Bruce Willis and Colin Farrell.

Universal, DreamWorks and Imagine Entertainment’s PG-13 rated drama A Beautiful Mind, which received eight Oscar nominations, held on to seventh place in its ninth week with an impressive ESTIMATED $9.86 million (+46%) at 2,081 theaters (-139 theaters; $4,740 per theater). Its cume is approximately $126.1 million, heading for $150 million-plus, depending on how well it does in terms of winning Oscars. (Its estimated gross for three days was $8.5 million.)

Directed by Ron Howard, the Brian Grazer production stars Russell Crowe, Ed Harris and Jennifer Connelly.

“We’re very, very pleased with the performance of this film,” Universal’s Nikki Rocco said. “You’re never quite sure how a film that’s already hit $100 million will perform after the nominations, but it’s obvious that this picture has such high visibility with a broad audience that the numbers are just proving over and over again that this is a picture everyone is truly enamored with. I never expected a 46 percent increase for the four days. But it’s quite obvious that the picture has incredible legs and is going to be around for a very long time.”

Rocco noted that A Beautiful Mind benefited from its eight Oscar nominations as well as “from a very strong marketplace.”

Revolution Studios and Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ R rated drama Black Hawk Down, which was fourth last week, tied for eighth place in its eighth week of release via Columbia Pictures with a slower ESTIMATED $7.5 million (-12%) at 2,150 theaters (-814 theaters; $3,488 per theater). Its cume is approximately $96.5 million, heading for $115-120 million. (Its estimated gross for three days was $6.2 million.)

Directed by Ridley Scott, it stars Josh Hartnett.

“It should hit $100 million (by), perhaps, next Saturday,” Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning.

Fox Searchlight Pictures’ opening of its R rated comedy Super Troopers tied for eighth place with a happy ESTIMATED $7.5 million at 1,778 theaters ($4,218 per theater). (Its estimated gross for three days was $6.2 million.)

Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar, it stars Jay Chandrasekhar and Kevin Heffernan.

“We had a fabulous opening,” Fox Searchlight distribution president Stephen Gilula said Sunday morning. “For us, it’s a terrific success. It’s a film in which we have invested $3.25 million, so we’re already out by this Tuesday.

“This is not about us competing for a position in the market as far as being number one, two or three. We had a very specific goal to reach and we exceeded it and we’re just thrilled in a very crowded market to do this business. We knew there was no comedy really aimed at the R rated college age young males and we nailed it and we’re really pleased about that. It’s very low budget and a very controlled marketing campaign on the film and it worked.”

Fox Searchlight bought the film at the Sundance Film Festival a year ago. “It’s a very talented young comedy group called Broken Lizard who wrote it and act in it,” Gilula said. “We’re excited about the talent. It plays very well to that particular audience. Our investment is $3.25 million. So it’s a very, very successful and profitable venture for us. As the numbers project out, we’re going to have a tremendous afterlife for this film. And we own it for the world.”

Rounding out the Top Ten was Buena Vista/Disney’s PG rated family comedy Snow Dogs, down five slots in its sixth week with a less energetic ESTIMATED $6.7 million (-12%) at 2,286 theaters (-168 theaters; $2,930 per theater). Its cume is approximately $68.1 million, heading for $75 million or more. (Its estimated gross for three days was $5.8 million.)

Directed by Brian Levant, it stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and James Coburn.


This weekend saw no other arrivals of key films.


There were no national sneak previews this weekend.


On the expansion front this weekend Lions Gate Films’ R rated drama Monster’s Ball, which received two Oscar nominations, widened in its eighth week with a solid ESTIMATED $3.2 million (+29%) at 473 theaters (+131 theaters; $6,850 per theater). Its cume is approximately $8.1 million.

Directed by Marc Foster, it stars Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Heath Ledger and Peter Boyle.

Miramax’s R rated drama In the Bedroom, which received five Oscar nominations, expanded in its 13th week with a still hopeful ESTIMATED $3.12 million (+70%) at 1,002 theaters (+265 theaters; $3,110 per theater. Its cume is approximately $23.2 million.

Directed by Todd Field, it stars Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson, Nick Stahl and Marisa Tomei.

USA Films’ R rated whodunit Gosford Park, which received seven Oscar nominations, added another theater in its eighth week with an okay ESTIMATED $2.8 million (+40%) at 837 theaters (+1 theater; $3,390 per theater). Its cume is approximately $25.8 million.

Directed by Robert Altman and starring an extensive ensemble cast, it was written by Julian Fellowes and produced by Altman, Bob Balaban and David Levy.

Miramax’s R rated romantic comedy Italian For Beginners widened in its fifth week to a still promising ESTIMATED $0.2 million at 22 theaters (+7 theaters; $9,455 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.7 million.

Directed by Lone Scherfig, it stars Anders Berthelsen.

Fine Line’s R rated drama Storytelling added a few theaters in its fourth week to an unexciting ESTIMATED $0.16 million at 40 theaters (+2 theaters; $3,915 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.6 million.

Written and directed by Todd Solondz, it stars Selma Blair and Robert Wisdom.


Universal’s international division reported that A Beautiful Mind got off to an excellent start internationally this weekend. The Universal/Dreamworks co-production from Imagine Entertainment is being distributed internationally by UIP for DreamWorks while Universal is releasing it domestically. A Beautiful Mind film opened this weekend in France, Brazil, Belgium, Israel and Finland.

In France, A Beautiful Mind grossed $0.14 million at 334 theaters on opening day. Universal said its weekend grosses will be available on Monday.

In Brazil, A Beautiful Mind opened in first place with an ESTIMATED two day gross of $0.48 million with 150 playdates.

Spy Game, in its fourth weekend in Australia, held there in eighth place with $0.19 million at 194 theaters. Its cume after 25 days is $3 million. Including its release in Belgium, Netherlands and Switzerland, Universal’s international cume for the film is $5.5 million. Spy Game, which is in its 12th week of overall international release, has a combined international total for Universal and other distributors of $63 million.

American Pie 2 continued at 106 theaters in Mexico in its sixth week, where its cume is now $5.2 million.

American Pie 2, which is still in release in several countries, has an international cume of $138 million.


Key films–those grossing more than $500,000–took in approximately $161.47 million, up about 15.6 percent from last year when they totaled $139.68 million.

Key films for the four day holiday weekend cannot be compared to the previous weekend of this year, which was a normal three day weekend.

Last year, MGM’s second week of Hannibal was first with $33.5 million at 3,238 theaters ($10,346 per theater); and Paramount’s opening week of Down to Earth was second with $20.03 million at 2,521 theaters ($7,944 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $53.5 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $42.0 million.