Box Office Guru Wrapup: Spidey Rules, Fonda Flops

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Peter Parker suffered a massive sophomore slide, but "Spider-Man 3" still dominated the box office around the globe spending a second weekend at number one with no other film coming anywhere near its stellar numbers.

Among the frame's four new releases, the zombie thriller "28 Weeks Later" fared best with a decent bow in the runnerup spot while the Jane Fonda-Lindsay Lohan pic "Georgia Rule" was mostly ignored and opened with disastrous results. Two other new comedies "Delta Farce" and "The Ex" barely registered a blip on the radar.



Sony was still crushing its competitors this weekend with "Spider-Man 3" which tumbled 60% to an estimated $60M in its second try in theaters. After ten days, the PG-13 hit has amassed a stunning $242.1M from North America and is still running ahead of its two predecessors. Ten-day cumes for 2002's "Spider-Man" and 2004's "Spider-Man 2" were $223M and $225M, respectively. However the new Venom installment is eroding faster as is often the case with the third part of a franchise. After the first three days, "Spider-Man 3" was an impressive 32% ahead of the first webslinger pic which opened on the exact same weekend in 2002. After seven days the lead was cut to 20% and now after ten days the gap has been reduced to 9%.



For the weekend, "Spider-Man 3" accounted for a stellar 64% of the box office for the top ten and grossed $17.1M on Friday (down 72% from its record-shattering opening day last week), $25M on Saturday (down 51% from last Saturday), and is projected to gross $18M on Sunday (down 55% from a week ago). The 60% second weekend drop is not uncommon for high-profile tentpole sequels with mammoth debuts. Some other sophomore drops include 53% for "X2: X-Men United," 54% for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," 63% for "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," and 67% for "X-Men: The Last Stand."



Where is part 3 headed in the long run? It would make sense to look at other action films that kicked off the summer movie season on the first weekend of May. The shares of the total cume collected in the first ten days were 64% for last year's "Mission: Impossible III," 69% for 2003's "X2," and 71% for 2004's "Van Helsing." Based on its trajectory and the competitive road ahead, "Spider-Man 3" could be headed for a finish of about $340-360M domestically. That would make it the lowest-grossing Spidey film in North America, however the overseas markets are a different story.



"Spider-Man 3" grossed an estimated $85.4M internationally this weekend to boost its overseas haul up to a mammoth $379.6M for a colossal global gross of $622M. Next weekend, the Sandman entry will surpass the international takes of $418M and $410M for the first two Spider-Man flicks to become the top performer of the franchise outside of North America. With the "Spider-Man" fan base already maxed out domestically, Sony made a strategic move to grow the brand around the world by hosting several star-studded international red carpet premieres and opening the film in most countries days ahead of the United States leading to a substantial increase in moviegoer excitement in all markets. "Spider-Man 3" still stands a very good chance of becoming the biggest grossing film of the trilogy on a global scale with the North American shortfall being overshadowed by gains overseas. With a reported production budget of $258M, the super hero film should surpass the $900M mark worldwide this summer.



Flesh-eating zombies took control of second place this weekend as the horror sequel "28 Weeks Later" opened with an estimated $10M representing a solid, but somewhat weaker-than-expected debut. The R-rated gorefest averaged a decent $4,342 from 2,303 playdates and delivered a gross almost equal to the $10.1M that "28 Days Later" achieved in its opening frame in June 2003. That sleeper hit bowed in a thousand fewer locations with 1,260 theaters and scored a more potent $7,986 average. Adjust for four years of ticket price increases and "Weeks" generated an opening weekend average half that of "Days." The new chapter earned very high praise from most critics, but being the fourteenth horror film of 2007 probably hurt its cause as many genre fans have overdosed on frightfests. If the estimate holds (Fox estimated a rather slim 26% Saturday-to-Sunday drop), "Weeks" will become the first non-Spidey film to reach double digits on opening weekend since "Fracture" from mid-April.



The star-driven chick flick "Georgia Rule" was dead on arrival at the box office debuting to an estimated $5.9M from 2,523 theaters for a flimsy $2,330 average. The R-rated film stars Lindsay Lohan as a rebellious teen left with her no-nonsense grandmother (Jane Fonda) for the summer. Felicity Huffman plays the alcoholic middle mom in the family. "Georgia" played more to the Fonda crowd than to the Lohan audience. Studio research from Universal showed that a whopping 81% of the turnout was female, 79% was white, and 70% was over the age of 30.



"Georgia Rule" imploded at the box office since it repelled its two main consumer groups. Older women pay attention to reviews and critics were brutal in reviewing the dramedy. And younger teen girls who track Lohan obsessively couldn't get in thanks to the harsh R rating. The opening was less than half the amount that the studio saw earlier this year when it targeted the same audience with the same number of theaters with the Diane Keaton-Mandy Moore pic "Becasue I Said So" which bowed to $13.1M over Super Bowl weekend. The Fonda flick was released over the Mother's Day frame, but most daughters chose to give their moms the gift of not seeing "Georgia Rule."



Paramount's hit teen thriller "Disturbia" enjoyed the best legs in the top ten dipping only 18% to an estimated $4.8M. Although in its fifth weekend, the Shia LaBeouf hit has the second largest theater count of any film and is playing in 3,106 locations that are still holding onto the durable thriller. Cume to date is $66.3M.



The military comedy "Delta Farce" bombed in its opening weekend grossing only $3.5M, according to estimates, landing in fifth place. The PG-13 pic averaged a dismal $1,813 from 1,931 locations for Lionsgate. Reviews were understandably pitiful.



New Line's Anthony Hopkins-Ryan Gosling drama "Fracture" dipped only 22% to an estimated $2.9M in its fourth frame and upped its cume to $31M. The horror flick "The Invisible" dropped to seventh with an estimated $2.2M, down 33%, for a $15.5M total.



Sliding only 25% in its third round was the action-comedy "Hot Fuzz" with an estimated $1.7M for Focus putting the sum at $18.9M. Nicolas Cage followed with his sci-fi flop "Next" which took in an estimated $1.6M, down 45%, for a total of $14.6M. Rounding out the top ten with an estimated $1.6M as well was the Disney animated hit "Meet the Robinsons" which fell 39% for a sturdy $94.1M cume. The 3D comedy will enjoy its status as the year's top-grossing toon for just one more week since "Shrek the Third," which opens on Friday, could march past it after only one weekend in theaters.



Debuting with miserable results outside of the top ten was the Zach Braff-Amanda Peet comedy "The Ex" which opened to an estimated $1.3M from 1,009 locations for a pathetic $1,288 average. The PG-13 date flick was released by MGM and earned poor reviews. With "The Ex," Hollywood has now seen a disturbing twelve wide releases over the last eight weeks fail to open to at least $5M. Numerous movies with little to offer paying moviegoers are being slaughtered in an overcrowded marketplace.



Three star-driven vehicles dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Will Ferrell's blockbuster comedy "Blades of Glory" grossed an estimated $1.4M in its seventh lap and boosted its cume to $113.8M. Off 41%, the $60M-plus DreamWorks/Paramount pic looks to skate to a $116-118M finish. Ice Cube's comedy sequel "Are We Done Yet?" fell 46% to an estimated $950,000 giving Sony $47.4M to date. The family film looks to end with just under $50M putting it 40% behind its predecessor "Are We There Yet?" which pulled in $82.3M two years ago. Warner Bros. has collected a measly $5M in ten days for its Eric Bana-Drew Barrymore poker pic "Lucky You" and will probably fold with an embarrassing $7M.



Arthouse darling "Waitress" starring Keri Russell expanded successfully in its second weekend serving up an estimated $636,000 from 65 sites for a solid $9,788 average. Fox Searchlight widened the acclaimed film from just four locations last weekend and pushed its cume to $788,000. A special Mother's Day gift bag promotion across the country is expected to strengthen Sunday sales. This Friday, the comedy expands in its existing markets adding 57 theaters and on May 25 it will widen to 400-500 total theaters nationwide for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.



The top ten films grossed an estimated $94.1M which was up 16% from last year when "Mission: Impossible III" stayed at number one with $25M; and up a scant 3% from 2005 when "Monster-in-Law" debuted on top with just $23.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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