Box Office Analysis, July 6: The Machines Have It

Forget about fireworks, this Fourth of July weekend saw conniving machines dominate the box office.

Expectedly, the action-packed Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines debuted in the top spot, terminating the competition with a $44 million* haul over the weekend. Since its release July 2, T3‘s five-day cume is $72.5 million.

The third Terminator installment did much better than its predecessor Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which opened in July 1991 at $31.7 million and set a new record for its star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has not had a hit film in years. His previous best opening was Batman & Robin with $42.8 million in 1997, the Associated Press reports.

“The nervousness is gone. Finally the baby’s born, and it’s in the public’s hands,” the film’s co-producer Andrew Vajna told Reuters. T3 was reportedly budgeted at between $150 million and $175 million.

T3 didn’t manage to beat Men in Black II‘s July 4 record, however, which became the biggest Independence Day opener ever last year with $52.1 million. T3 stands as the fourth biggest Fourth of July opener; the 1997 Men in Black comes in second with $51 million and the 1996 Independence Day takes third with $50.2 million. The 2000 The Perfect Storm rounds out the top five with $41.3 million.

But never underestimate blonde power. The other notable newcomer this weekend was Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, which giggled its way into second place with a total of $22.9 million, and since opening July 2, has seen $39.1 million over a five-day period. The sequel clearly out-pinked the original Legally Blonde, which opened July 2001 at $20.3 million.

The heavenly Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle zoomed in at No. 3 with $14.2 million, while the delightful Finding Nemo kept its head above water in fourth place with $11 million. The mean green The Hulk rounded out the top five with $8.2 million. The other wide release this week, the animated swashbuckler Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas made it to the list at No. 6 with a disappointing $6.8 million.

This Fourth of July weekend’s overall take of $126.9 million from its top 12 films couldn’t quite surpass last year’s record-breaking haul of $139.1 million.

THE TOP TEN

Warner Bros.’ R-rated Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines debuted in first place with an ESTIMATED $44 million at 3,504 theaters. Its per theater average of $12,570 was the highest of any film opening wide this week. Since opening last Wednesday, its five-day cume is $72.5 million.

The third installment picks up ten years after John Connor stopped Judgment Day and saved mankind from mass destruction. Now, Skynet is at it again, sending the T-X, the most sophisticated cyborg killing machine, back through time to finish the job. Connor’s only hope for survival is to join forces with his former assassin: The Terminator.

Directed by Jonathan Mostow, it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes and Kristanna Loken.

Give the girl two snaps! MGM’s PG-13 rated Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde opened in the second spot with an ESTIMATED $22.9 million at 3,350 theaters ($6,836 per theater). Since opening July 2, its cume is $39.1 million.

In this sequel, Harvard’s fave hot-pink grad goes to Washington to defend animal rights and keep four-legged critters out of the hands of evil cosmetics testers.

Directed by Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, it stars Reese Witherspoon, Sally Field, Regina King, Bob Newhart and Jennifer Coolidge.

Sony Picture’s PG-13-rated Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle dropped two places to third in its second week with an ESTIMATED $14.2 million (-62%) at 3,485 theaters (+26 theaters; $4,075 per theater). The sequel, which has the angels using their special talents to keep valuable information from getting into the wrong hands, has made $67.2 million so far.

Directed by McG, it stars Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Bernie Mac.

*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.

Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar Animation Studios’ G-rated computer-animated feature Finding Nemo fell a spot to fourth place in its sixth week with an ESTIMATED $11 million (-21%) at 2,901 theaters (-431 theaters; $3,790 per theater). Its cume is approximately $274.9 million.

Directed and co-written by Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton, it features the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe and Brad Garrett.

Universal Pictures’ PG-13 The Hulk fell three notches into fifth place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $8.2 million (-56%) at 3,291 theaters (-383 theaters, $2,492 per theater). Its cume is approximately $117 million.

Directed by Ang Lee, it stars Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott and Nick Nolte.

DreamWorks’ animated PG-rated Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas debuted in a weak sixth place with an ESTIMATED $6.8 million at 3,086 theaters ($2,492 per theater). Since opening July 2, it’s taken in $10 million.

Inspired by the ancient tales of the Arabian Nights, Sinbad, the most daring and notorious rogue ever to sail the Seven Seas, is faced with his greatest challenge of all–forgoing his self-serving ways to save the life of his best friend.

Directed by Patrick Gilmore and Tim Johnson, it features the voices of Brad Pitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Joseph Fiennes.

Fox Searchlight’s R-rated sci-fi thriller 28 Days Later dropped a few points in its second week to come in at No. 7 with an ESTIMATED $6 million (-40%) at 1,407 theaters (+147 theaters; $4,314 per theater). With only a $8 million production cost, the contemporary thriller about a fast-spreading virus that causes human rage on the people it infects has more than doubled its investment with a cume of $20.6 million.

Directed by Danny Boyle, it stars Cillian Murphy, Naomi Harris, Brendan Gleeson and Megan Burns.

Paramount Pictures’ PG-13-rated actioner The Italian Job moved down a notch to eighth place in its sixth week with an ESTIMATED $4.2 million (-22%) at 1,584 theaters (-437 theaters; $2,699 per theater). Its cume is approximately $84 million.

Directed by F. Gary Gray, it stars Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def and Edward Norton.

Universal Pictures’ PG-13 Bruce Almighty dropped three rungs to No. 9 in its seventh week with an ESTIMATED $4 million (-35%) at 1,929 theaters (-722 theaters; $2,074 per theater). Its cume is approximately $228.7 million.

Directed by Tom Shadyac, it stars Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman.

Universal Pictures’ PG-13-rated car culture sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious showed the least improvement this week, diving five spots down to 10th place in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $2.4 million (-61%) at 1,779 theaters (-1038 theaters; $1,349 per theater). Its cume is approximately $119.3 million.

Directed by John Singleton, it stars Paul Walker, Tyrese, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser and Devon Aoki.

OTHER OPENINGS

Focus Features’ PG-13 rated mystery Swimming Pool managed to open with a respectable showing of an ESTIMATED $289,964 in 13 theaters, averaging $22,305 per theater. Also opening July 2, its total five-day cume is $375,809.

The story revolves around an uptight British mystery author who takes some time off to stay in the South of France. Her relaxed vacation is interrupted, however, by the arrival a sexually charged young woman, and their growing relationship sets off an increasingly unsettling series of events, including a possible real-life murder.

Directed by Francois Ozon, it stars Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier and Charles Dance.

WEEKEND COMPARISON

The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $126.9 million, up 12 percent from last week’s take of $112.5 million but down 8 percent from this weekend last year, when key films grossed $139.1 million.

Last year, Sony’s PG-13 rated Men in Black II premiered at the top of the heap with $52.1 million over the three-day weekend, with a five-day total of $87.2 million at 3,557 theaters ($14,661 per theater); Sony’s PG-13-rated Mr. Deeds dropped to No. 2 in its second week with $18.4 million at 3,231 theaters ($5,698 per theater), while Buena Vista’s PG-rated animated adventure Lilo & Stitch stayed in third in its third week with $12.6 million at 3,222 theaters ($3,922 per theater).

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