'National Treasure,' 'Polar Express' Measure Up

by Brandon Gray
December 6, 2004

For the third weekend in a row, movies appealing to families grabbed the top four slots.

National Treasure minted $17.0 million, down 47%. The hold was the strongest for a No. 1 Thanksgiving movie since Toy Story in 1995—drops of well over 50% are the norm on the post-holiday frame. The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced action-adventure has racked up $110.1 million in 17 days and is on track to top The Rock's $134.1 million as star Nicolas Cage's highest grossing picture.

With no new wide releases to contend with, the weekend was National Treasure's to lose. The movie has been No. 1 for three weekends in a row—the third of the year to have such a streak after The Passion of the Christ and Shark Tale.

Trimming 48%, Christmas with the Kranks unwrapped $11.2 million for $44.9 million in 12 days. On the same weekend, Elf fell 63% last year and The Santa Clause 2 56% in 2002.

Fueled by word-of-mouth and the Christmas spirit, Warner Bros.' The Polar Express hauled in $10.8 million, slowing only 44% for $96.1 million in 26 days. Its 61 IMAX theaters have consistently contributed over $2 million to the coffers each weekend, racking up $13.3 million in total. In other words, 1.7% of the picture's 3,650 theaters have accounted for 13.8% of its grosses. Robert Zemeckis' $165 million production still has a long track to profitability.

Rounding out the family foursome, The Incredibles tumbled 62% to $9.0 million for $225.9 million in 31 days. The fall was comparable to Monsters, Inc. on the same frame in 2001, and the total is running 10.7% ahead.

Slipping 57%, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie soaked up $7.7 million. With $68.2 million in 17 days, Paramount's Nickelodeon cartoon is on par with $100 million predecessor The Rugrats Movie at the same point.

Wounded by bad word of mouth and even worse press, Alexander bled 65% to $4.8 million. In 12 days, Oliver Stone's $155 million epic has $29.7 million and will not reach $40 million at this rate.

Overall, the top 12 pictures grossed $79.0 million, down 11.6% from the same weekend last year when there were two new wide releases, The Last Samurai and Honey. The post-Thanksgiving frame is always relatively soft, and business this year was essentially par for the course. Still, one wonders why titles like Blade: Trinity or Flight of the Phoenix didn't take advantage of the scheduling hole (and November sweeps TV advertising)—their young male target audience is not as susceptible to the post-Thanksgiving blahs as other demographics.

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