No Middle Ground at Summer Box Office
Maybe it wasn’t DVD sales, high ticket prices or sticky theater floors that plagued the summer box office. Maybe it was the decline of the middle class.
Hollywood’s much-chronicled season of discontent wrapped Monday, having produced $3.6 billion in ticket sales, down 9 percent from last summer, according to the box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. Actual attendance took an even bigger hit, off nearly 12 percent.
Despite the bleak statistics, nine movies made a lot of money–more than $150 million each. Last year, only five summer movies crossed that blockbuster barrier.
The big difference between summer 2004 and summer 2005 was in the number of movies that grossed between $100 million and $150 million: seven versus zero.
In 2005, there were no surprise big hits such as Dodgeball ($114.3 million) or mildly disappointing blockbusters such as The Village ($114.2 million). Rather, there were mega-hits, led by Star Wars: Episode III–Revenge of the Sith (first place, $379.8 million), and there were disappointments, arguably embodied by Stealth (30th place, $31.7 million).
Nowhere was the gap between the haves and the not-quites bigger than in the top 10.
Fantastic Four nabbed ninth place with $152.7 million. Tenth place fell to Monster-in-Law, regarded as a success with $82.9 million. The distance between the two movies? A whopping $69.8 million, more than the entire haul of Herbie: Fully Loaded (13th place, $65.2 million).
The summer’s also-rans are so far behind the front-runners that it seems remote that any late summer entry will eventually crack $100 million, as Collateral ($101 million) did last year. The Dukes of Hazzard looks to have run out of gas at $77.5 million (11th place). The 40-Year-Old Virgin, number two at the box office last weekend, might have the best legs, but it’s still almost $30 million shy of the promised land (12th place, $71.9 million).
In the end, it could be left to Transporter 2 to uphold the tradition of the $100 million movie–that is, if it can build on its record Labor Day opening ($20.1 million).
Also of note at the summer box office:
– Revenge of the Sith’s gain was Jurassic Park’s loss: The former moved up to seventh place among the all-time box-office hits; the latter moved out of the top 10, down to 11th.
– According to the stats at BoxOfficeMojo.com, Johnny Depp enjoyed his biggest hit in two years–Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (fourth place, $201.3 million). Tom Cruise enjoyed his biggest hit in five years–War of the Worlds (second place, $232.6 million). Adam Sandler enjoyed his biggest hit in six years–The Longest Yard (eighth place, $157.8 million). Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie enjoyed their biggest hit of any year–Mr. and Mrs. Smith (seventh place, $184.6 million).
– With Cinderella Man (17th place, $61.5 million), Russell Crowe suffered his first box-office disappointment since Proof of Life.
– A documentary about a bunch of birds, March of the Penguins (15th place, $63.6 million), outgrossed the Ridley Scott epic Kingdom of Heaven (21st place, $47.4 million).
– Overseas, Kingdom of Heaven tidied up Fox’s bottom line with $163.1 million at the international box office, per BoxOfficeMojo.com. The world also lent a helping hand to Michael Bay’s The Island ($35.8 million domestic; $101.8 million international).
– Overseas, Stealth is shaping up to be as big a misfire as it was Stateside, with $18.3 million at the international box office.
– In 1976, The Bad News Bears achieved hit status with a $32.2 million gross. In 2005, the Bad News Bears remake achieved miss status with a $32.7 million gross (28th place).
– Indie stand-outs Crash (19th place, $53.3 million) and Hustle & Flow (34th place, $21.9 million) did well, but they didn’t match last summer’s Fahrenheit 9/11 ($119.2 million).
– The Aristocrats (49th place, $4.7 million) became the highest grossing documentary about the dirtiest joke ever told.
– If you count Wedding Crashers (fifth place, $195.8 million), Will Ferrell movies made $311 million. If you don’t, they only made about 40 percent of that.
Here’s a look at the top 10 summer movies of 2005, through Monday, per Exhibitor Relations:
1. Star Wars: Episode III–Revenge of the Sith, $379.8 million
2. War of the Worlds, $232.6 million
3. Batman Begins, $203.6 million
4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, $201.3 million
5. Wedding Crashers, $195.8 million
6. Madagascar, $191.6 million
7. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, $184.6 million
8. The Longest Yard, $157.8 million
9. Fantastic Four, $152.7 million
10. Monster-in-Law, $82.9 million
No Middle Ground at Summer Box Office