Box Office Analysis: March 30

It’s very clear that during the current world turmoil, as war is played out 24 hours a day on television, audiences want to go to the movie to escape–and laugh their butts off.

The new Chris Rock comedy Head of State took the top office in movieland this weekend with a nice $14 million* in pocket change, defeating incumbant Bringing Down the House . The Queen Latifah/Steve Martin laffer followed closely behind with $12.5 million. So far, six of the ten top ten grossing films released in 2003 have been comedies.

“There’s strong evidence that comedies are on people’s minds,” Jim Tharp, head of distribution for DreamWorks which released Head of State, told The Associated Press.

The other new releases were neck-and-neck in the final tally: The disaster film The Core opened at No. 3 at $12.4 million, while the military drama Basic came in fourth place with $12.1 million.

Meanwhile, no doubt capitalizing on winning six Oscars last weekend, including Best Picture, Chicago rounds out the top five with $7.4 million.

Overall box office numbers, however, are still down considerably from last year–at least 5 to 6 percent, Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations told AP. Studios are banking on the upcoming summer releases–starting with The Matrix: Reloaded which opens May 15–to help boost the sagging grosses.


DreamWorks’ PG-13 campaign comedy Head of State was voted into the top spot with an ESTIMATED $14 million at 2,150 theaters ($6,512 per theater).

The comedy centers on a good-hearted Washington, D.C., neighborhood alderman who is plucked from obscurity to run as a candidate for President of the United States–and shows how a real presidential campaign should be run.

Directed by and starring Chris Rock, the film also stars Bernie Mac, Lynn Whitfield, Robin Givens and Tamala Jones.

Buena Vista’s PG-13 Bringing Down the House, which has ruled for the last three weeks, dropped a notch to No. 2 with an ESTIMATED $12.5 million (-23%) at 2,910 theaters (+39; $4,296 per theater). With a total of approximately $100 million so far, House joins How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days (whose cume is approximately $101.1 million) as the second film released in 2003 to hit the $100 million mark.

Directed by Adam Shankman, it stars Steve Martin and Queen Latifah.

Third place belonged to Paramount Pictures’ new release PG-13 The Core, which nearly caught up to House with an ESTIMATED $12.4 million at 3,017 theaters ($4,110 per theater).

The disaster flick follows a team of scientists who must journey to the center of the Earth to jump-start the planet’s slowing rotation before the world is literally cooked by electrical storms.

Directed by Jon Amiel, it stars Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci, D.J. Qualls and Tcheky Karyo.

Following close behind, Sony Pictures’ R-rated Basic opened in the fourth spot with an ESTIMATED $12.1 million at 2,876 theaters ($4,207 per theater).

The military drama focuses on a rebellious DEA agent who investigates the disappearance of an elite squad of Army Rangers in Panama.

Directed by John McTiernan, it stars John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson and Connie Nielsen.

Dropping off a bit in box office grosses, Miramax Films’ PG-13 Chicago managed to stay in the middle of the pack at No. 5 with an ESTIMATED $7.4 million (+20%) at 2,701 theaters (+136; $2,746 per theater). The film’s cume is approximately $144.8 million.

Directed by Rob Marshall, it stars Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere.

*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.

Last week’s No. 2 opener, Warner Bros. R-rated Dreamcatcher, slid way down to sixth place with an ESTIMATED $6.3 million (-58%) at 2,945 theaters ($2,158 per theater). The film, based on the Stephen King novel about four friends who must deal with an alien invasion, has made approximately $25.3 million so far.

Directed by Lawrence Kasdan, the film stars Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis and Donnie Wahlberg.

MGM’s PG-rated Agent Cody Banks, now in its third week, also dropped a few notches from third to seventh place with an ESTIMATED $6.1 million (-34%) at 2,786 theaters (-583 theaters; $2,190 per theater). The ‘tweeny spy flick’s cume is approximately $34.8 million.

Directed by Harald Zwart, it stars Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff and Angie Harmon.

At No. 8, Buena Vista’s animated G-rated Piglet’s Big Movie dropped a spot from its opening last week but still attracted the younger set with an ESTIMATED $4.6 million (-25%) at 2,084 theaters ($2,207 per theater). The story about how little Piglet becomes the big hero has taken in approximately $12.4 million so far.

Directed by Francis Glebas, it features the voices of John Fiedler, James Cummings and Andre Stojka.

Miramax’s PG-13 View From the Top slipped from its fourth place opening to ninth place with an ESTIMATED $3.8 million (-46%) at 2,508 theaters ($1,515 per theater). About a girl from a Nevada trailer park who sets her sights on becoming a flight attendant, its cume is approximately $12.5 million.

Directed by Bruno Barreto, the film stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Kelly Preston and Christina Applegate.

Rounding out the Top 10, Paramount’s R-rated The Hunted took in an ESTIMATED $3.6 million (-44%) at 2,244 theaters (-273 theaters; $1,638 per theater). Now in its third week, the knife-driven thriller’s cume is approximately $29.2 million.

Directed by William Friedkin, it stars Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro and Connie Nielsen.


United Artists’ R-rated drama Assassination Tango opened in seven theaters with an ESTIMATED $64,000 ($9,143 per theater).

The film is directed by and stars Robert Duvall as an assassin stuck in Buenos Aires on a job who becomes enmeshed in the world of the dance club tango. The film also stars Ruben Blade, Kathy Baker and marks the debut of Lucianna Pedraza, Duvall’s real-life partner.


This weekend’s top 12 haul totaled only $87.3 million, down almost 24 percent from the same weekend last year, which saw a take of $114.2 million.

Last year, Sony’s R-rated Panic Room debuted at the top of the box office with $30 million at 3,053 theaters ($9,845 per theater); Fox’s PG rated Ice Age came in second with $18 million at 3,333 theaters ($5,441 per theater); and Buena Vista’s G-rated The Rookie opened in third with $16 million at 2,511 theaters ($6,381 per theater).