Box Office News

Box Office Analysis, Feb. 29: "The Passion" Embraced

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Mar 02, 2004 | 10:58am EST

It came as no surprise that one of the most talked about, most controversial movies in recent memory toppled the competition at the box office.

What did come as a surprise, however, was how much Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ actually took in--a powerful $83.8 million over the weekend with a five-day total of $125.2 million since its Wednesday opening. (The number includes $3 million from private previews the prior two days.) The Passion now stands as the biggest February opener ever, beating record holder Hannibal, which opened in 2001 with $58 million.

The film, which examines the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life and has been scrutinized by many for its religious subject matter, hit other box office milestones as well. The Passion is now the second best five-day opener ever, behind The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which opened in December with $124.1 million and the second best R-rated opener, behind The Matrix Reloaded, which opened last year with $91.7 million. Finally, The Passion ranks seventh on the list of the best openers of all-time. Spider-Man still holds the record; it opened in 2002 with a whopping $114.8 million.

"It's an event movie," Bruce Davey, Gibson's partner in his film company Icon Productions said in a statement. "It all began with the grass-roots campaign we started, but the controversy has obviously helped in creating awareness."

The rest of the top 10 paled considerably next to Passion, with 50 First Dates, the box office champ for the last two weeks, dropping to second place with $12.6 million. Other newcomers on the list included the cop-psycho drama Twisted in third with $9.1 million and the hip-swayin' Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, which came in fifth with $5.9 million.

With a little help from Christ, total ticket sales for this week's top 12 films were $132.1 million, up 77.16 percent from last week's $74.5 million, and up 52.85 percent form last year's $86.4 million.

Last year, Warner Bros. R rated Cradle 2 the Grave debuted in the No.1 position with $16.5 million in 2,625 theaters with a $6,294 per theater average; DreamWorks' PG-13 rated comedy Old School held on to second place in its second week with $14 million in 2,742 theaters (+53 theaters; $5,120 per theater); and 20th Century Fox's PG-13 rated comic book actioner Daredevil slipped to the third spot in its third week with $11.1 million in 3,234 theaters (-240 theaters; $3,439 per theater).

BOX OFFICE TOP 10, ESTIMATES (Source: Exhibitor Relations, Inc.)

No. 1: The Passion of the Christ (Newmarket, R)

Gross: $83.8 million

Weeks opened: NEW!

Theaters: 3,043

Per-theater average: $25,041

Cume to date: $125.2 million

No. 2: 50 First Dates (20th Century Fox, PG-13)

Gross: $12.6 million (-38%)

Weeks opened: 3

Theaters: 3,450 (-162)

Per-theater average: $3,652

Cume to date: $88.7 million

No. 3: Twisted (Paramount Pictures, R)

Gross: $9.1 million

Weeks opened: NEW!

Theaters: 2,703

Per-theater average: $3,367

No. 4: Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (Buena Vista, PG)

Gross: $6.1 million (-35%)

Weeks opened: 2

Theaters: 2,503 (Unchanged)

Per-theater average: $2,437

Cume to date: $16.7 million

No. 5: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (Lions Gate, PG-13)

Gross: $5.9 million

Weeks opened: NEW!

Theaters: 2,042

Per-theater average: $2,889

No. 6: Miracle (Buena Vista, PG)

Gross: $4.4 million (-44%)

Weeks opened: 4

Theaters: 2,222 (-491 theaters)

Per-theater average: $1,980

Cume to date: $56.3 million

No. 7: Eurotrip (DreamWorks, R)

Gross: $4.1 million (-39%)

Weeks opened: 2

Theaters: 2,544 (+32)

Per-theater average: $1,612

Cume to date: $12.8 million

No. 8: Welcome to Mooseport (20th Century Fox, PG-13)

Gross: $3.3 million (-51%)

Weeks opened: 2

Theaters: 2,868 (+1)

Per-theater average: $1,168

Cume to date: $11.6 million

No. 9: Barbershop 2: Back in Business (MGM, PG-13)

Gross: $3.1 million (-51%)

Weeks opened: 4

Theaters: 1,524 (-705)

Per-theater average: $2,034

Cume to date: $57.5 million

No. 10: Broken Lizard's Club Dread (Fox Searchlight, R)

Gross: $3 million

Weeks opened: NEW!

Theaters: 1,807

Per-theater average: $1,674

OTHER OPENINGS

Goodbye, Lenin! (Sony Pictures Classic, R)

Gross: $70,223

Weeks opened: NEW!

Theaters: 6

Per-theater average: $11,704

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