One Huge “Momma”
Everyone seemed to head to Big Momma’s House 2 this weekend.
The chance to see Martin Lawrence redon the fat suit as an undercover agent playing nanny to some kids was too tempting for moviegoers, who shelled out an estimated $28 million for tickets to the sequel, making it the biggest draw of the weekend over fellow newcomers Nanny McPhee and Annapolis.
Big Momma was apparently buoyed by good word of mouth. Fox happily pointed out that business for the PG-13 flick was 47 percent higher Saturday than it had been on Friday. The movie averaged $8,586 per screen at 3,261 sites and its gross was the second best ever for January, beaten only by Star Wars: Special Edition’s $35.9 million.
Additionally the sequel bested the opening of the original Big Momma’s House, which debuted with $25.6 million in June 2000. For Lawrence, it’s his second best opening, way behind Bad Boys II, which was bolstered by the presence of costar Will Smith and debuted with $46.5 million in the summer of 2003.
Emma Thompson’s anti-Mary Poppins tale Nanny McPhee was about half the woman Big Momma was. Literally. The family comedy about a warts-and-all nanny tending to Colin Firth’s unruly kids earned $14.1 million in second place, while playing at considerably fewer theaters.
Universal declared itself extremely happy with “the well above expectation” haul for the PG adaptation of the Nurse Matilda books, which also stars Angela Lansbury. Already a huge hit on its home turf in the U.K., Nanny McPhee check in at just 1,995 sites in North America and averaged $7,068.
Nikki Rocco, Universal’s distribution president, noted that while “family films work right now” this movie had the additional appeal because “it’s not violent, it’s a fantasy, and children really like it.” Rocco’s says she hopes Nanny McPhee will “linger in the marketplace for a while.”
It will undoubtedly linger longer than Annapolis. The lightweight Officer and a Gentleman wannabe, set in the U.S. Naval Academy and starring James Franco, foundered in fourth place with $7.7 million.
A PG-13 entry from Disney, Annapolis averaged just $4,802 per screen at 1,605 sites. It’s been a rough go for Franco of late. A Golden Globe winner in 2002 for a James Dean TV movie, Franco’s Dark Ages romance Tristan & Isolde has dropped out of sight after 17 days.
Meanwhile, last week’s top movie, Underworld: Evolution dropped 59 percent to third place, earning $11.1 million. Kate Beckinsale’s vampire sequel has tallied $44.3 million in two weeks.
But the movies in the fifth and six slots continued to hang in strongly. The fractured fairy tale ‘toon Hoodwinked dipped just 29 percent in its third week with $7.3 million and has now grossed $37.6 million. And the favorite going into Tuesday’s Oscar noms, Brokeback Mountain, fell off just 19 percent with $6.3 million. The film, which earned Ang Lee the top DGA Award Saturday, has an eight-week tally of $50.8 million.
Moving up 18 slots into 10th place was another critically praised movie, The Matador, starring Pierce Brosnan as a mixed-up hit man and Greg Kinnear as a distressed salesman. Adding 819 sites to play at 885 in its fifth week, the film gained 838 percent with $3.8 million, bringing its total to $5.5 million.
In limited release, the top per-screen average was $14,704 for Disney’s Roving Mars, the documentary about Spirit and Opportunity’s quest for water on the red planet, which unspooled at 27 large-screen sites and grossed $397,000.
At just eight sites, Fox Searchlight’s Imagine Me and You, a British comedy about a lesbian love affair in the face of a traditional marriage, averaged $6,604 per screen for $52,830.
Overall, business was up 5 percent from last weekend, but, in a bad sign for the movie biz, down 5 percent from this time last year.
Here’s a rundown of the top 10 films, based on estimates compiled Sunday by Exhibitor Relations (final figures are due Monday):
1. Big Momma’s House 2, $28 million
2. Nanny McPhee, $14.1 million
3. Underworld: Evolution, $11.1 million
4. Annapolis, $7.7 million
5. Hoodwinked, $7.3 million
6. Brokeback Mountain, $6.3 million
7. Glory Road, $5.1 million
8. Last Holiday, $4.8 million
9. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, $4.4 million
10. The Matador, $3.8 million
One Huge “Momma”