Box Office Analysis, Oct. 12: “Kill”er Weekend

Audiences were in the mood for a “gutsy” Tarantino movie this weekend.Quentin Tarantino‘s kung fu chopping, samurai sword slashing, body part flying Kill Bill Vol. 1 filleted the competition this weekend, opening in the top spot with a respectable $22.6 million* and beating out last week’s champ, School of Rock, which dropped to second place with $15.4 million.While far from a blockbuster debut, Kill Bill delivered solidly at the box office for a genre picture steeped in violence, Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations, told The Associated Press. “Kill Bill is a very specialized film. It appeals to an important segment of the audience, but kind of a limited audience,” Dergarabedian said. “Grandma does not want to see Kill Bill.”Making his way back into theaters after a six-year absence, Tarantino‘s blood-soaked tribute to grindhouse cinema now stands as his best opener ever, topping his last film, the 1997 Jackie Brown ($12.8 million) and the 1994 Pulp Fiction ($9.3 million). Kill Bill can also claim the fourth best October opener ever, besting School of Rock, which took the fifth best October slot last week at $19.6 million. Both films follow the likes of October champ Red Dragon, which debuted in 2002 with $36.5 million.Tarantino and Miramax chose to chop three-hour Kill Bill into two parts rather than dish it out to audiences in one big gulp, and exit polls indicated 90 percent of the audience looking forward to Kill Bill Vol. 2, Rick Sands, Miramax chief operating officer, told AP. “The gamble paid off,” Sands said. “We think it was a smart decision to split the movie.” Vol. 2 opens in February.Newcomers Intolerable Cruelty, the eccentric Coen brothers’ stab at a classic battle of the sexes, debuted in third place with $13.1 million, while Good Boy!, a spirited dog tail, er tale, opened with $13 million. Last week’s No. 2, the noirish Out of Time, rounded out the top five with $8.6 million.The other notable opener this week was Clint Eastwood‘s taut Oscar bait Mystic River, which premiered in limited theaters but managed to take in $591,390 over the weekend.THE TOP TENMiramax Films scores again. The studio’s R rated Kill Bill Vol. 1 premiered at the top of the box office this week with an ESTIMATED $22.6 million in 3,102 theaters. The film took in $7,312 per theater, making it the highest average of any film playing wide this week.The revenge tale centers on the Bride, a highly trained former assassin looking for a little payback after being left for dead on her wedding day by those she once worked with. Directed by Tarantino, it stars Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah and David Carradine.Losing its No. 1 title, Paramount Pictures’ PG-13 rated rock ‘n’ roll comedy School of Rock, still managed to jam in second place with an ESTIMATED $15.4 million (-22%) in 2,929 theaters (+315 theaters; $5,258 per theater). Starring Jack Black as a hell raising guitarist who impersonates a substitute teacher and turns a class of high achieving fifth graders into high-voltage rock ‘n’ rollers, the film’s cume is approximately $39.5 million.Directed by Richard Linklater, it stars Black, Joan Cusack and Michael White. Universal Pictures’ PG 13 rated offbeat romantic comedy Intolerable Cruelty opened in third place with an ESTIMATED $13.1 million in 2,564 theaters, averaging $5,109 per theater.The story follows a successful divorce attorney who meets his match when he runs into a professional divorcee.Produced by Ethan Coen and directed by Joel Coen, it stars George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones.*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.MGM’s sweet-natured PG rated Good Boy! debuted at No. 4 with an ESTIMATED $13 million in 3,225 theaters, averaging $4,031 per theater.Owen, a 12-year-old who has been working as the neighborhood dog walker to earn the privilege of getting a dog of his own, finds the new dog of his dreams. Only this dog is different: for one, Owen can talk with him, and two, he isn’t from Earth.Directed by John Hoffman, it stars Liam Aiken and the vocal talents of Matthew Broderick, Brittany Murphy, Carl Reiner and Vanessa Redgrave as the dog Hubble and his four-legged friends.MGM Pictures’ R rated police thriller Out of Time fell several spots to the fifth spot in its second week with an ESTIMATED $8.6 million (-47%) at 3,076 theaters (unchanged; $2,796 per theater). Its cume is $28.7 million. Directed by Carl Franklin, it stars Washington, Eva Mendes, Sanaa Lathan and Dean Cain.Artisan’s R rated horror flick House of the Dead debuted at No. 6 with an ESTIMATED $5.5 million in 1,520 theaters, averaging $3,618 per theater. The film follows a group of unsuspecting teens who stumble upon the living dead after one of them is killed during a rave at an abandoned house. The others band together to get revenge on the monsters responsible.Directed by Uwe Boll, it stars Michael Ecklund, Enuka Okuma, David Palffy and Jurgen Prochnow.Universal Pictures’ PG-13 rated jungle actioner The Rundown, dropped to seventh place in its third weekend with an ESTIMATED $5.3 million (-45%) in 2,823 theaters (-331 theaters; $1,877 per theater). Its cume is approximately $40.3 million.Directed by Peter Berg, it stars The Rock, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson and Christopher Walken.Buena Vista’s PG-13 rated romantic comedy Under the Tuscan Sun fell four notches to No. 8 in its third week with an ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-38%) in 1,701 theaters (+4 theaters; $2,822 per theater). Its cume is approximately $28.2 million. Directed by Audrey Wells, it stars Diane Lane, Sandra Oh, Vincent Riotta and Raoul Bova. New Line’s PG rated family drama Secondhand Lions also dropped four spots to take ninth place in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $3.2 million (-37%) in 2,563 theaters (-469 theaters; $1,278 per theater). Its cume is approximately $35.3 million.Directed by Tim McCanlies, it stars Haley Joel Osment, Robert Duvall and Michael Caine.Focus Features’ R rated dramedy Lost In Translation slid three positions to round out the top 10 in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $2.8 million (-31%) in 882 theaters (+18 theaters; $3,240 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $18.1 million.Directed by Sofia Coppola, it stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.OTHER OPENINGSWarner Bros.’ intensely dramatic R rated Mystic River debuted in 13 theaters on Wednesday and managed to take in $591,390 over the weekend, with a whopping average of $45,492 per theater. Its cume since Wednesday is $778,997.The film centers on three childhood friends who share a tragic event from the past and cross paths again 25 years later when one of the men’s daughters is found brutally murdered.Directed by Clint Eastwood, it stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Laura Linney and Marcia Gay Harden. WEEKEND COMPARISON The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $98.7 million, up 22.48 percent from last weekend’s $80.5 million. The Top 12 movies were also up 5.72 percent from this time last year when they took in $93.3 million.Last year, Universal’s R rated thriller Red Dragon stayed at No. 1 in its second week with $17.6 million in 3,363 theaters ($5,250 per theater); Buena Vista’s PG-13 rated comedy Sweet Home Alabama also stayed in second place in its third week with $14.2 million in 3,313 theaters ($4,305 per theater); and Fox Seachlight’s PG-13 Brown Sugar opened in third place with $10.7 million in 1,372 theaters ($7,827 per theater).

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