'Life Aquatic' Sails in Limited Pond, 'Spanglish' Sneaks

by Brandon Gray
December 13, 2004

Among major holdovers, The Polar Express was again the strongest, shedding 11% to $9.6 million for $109.8 million in 33 days. IMAX theaters again contributed over $2 million, down just 1%, and in total $16.4 million. Robert Zemeckis' $165 million production is headed for over $150 million.

Moviegoers dumped Closer after a strong limited bow last weekend. Afflicted by poor word-of-mouth, the relationship drama starring Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen expanded from 476 theaters to 622, yet business fell 52% to $3.7 million. In 10 days, it has $13.7 million.

Another crowd-alienator, Alexander retreated 69% in its third weekend to $1.5 million. Oliver Stone's $155 million epic has claimed $32.6 million in 17 days and should concede with about $35 million by the end of its theatrical run.

Bolstered by the openings of Ocean's Twelve and Blade: Trinity, the top 12 pictures earned $100.9 million, a new record for the time frame and 26% ahead of the same weekend last year when Something's Gotta Give debuted at No. 1.

The latest comedy from director Wes Anderson and star Bill Murray, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, surveyed $113,085 at two theaters in Los Angeles and New York City, averaging $56,542 per site. Distributor Buena Vista reports that it sold out almost every show, aside from early Friday. Anderson's last picture The Royal Tenenbaums debuted to $276,981 at five venues on the same frame in December 2001, averaging $55,396, and ultimately grossed $52.4 million, peaking at 999 sites. Buena Vista will give Life Aquatic a more accelerated release pattern, expanding to over 1,000 theaters on Christmas day.

Bad Education expanded to Los Angeles and grew to $135,025 at five theaters, averaging $27,005 in its fourth weekend. The two L.A. venues accounted for $62,630 of the weekend, while the three holdover New York City sites were down 19%. Pedro Almodovar's NC-17 drama has collected $699,732 to date and is scheduled to hit the top 25 markets over Christmas.

Fox Searchlight will time the wide expansion of its awards magnet Sideways in conjunction with the announcement of the Oscar nominees. On Jan. 28, the Alexander Payne-directed comedy is scheduled to reach over 1,000 theaters. Through its eighth weekend of limited release, it has garnered $14.3 million. Searchlight stable mate Kinsey will reach the top 100 markets over Christmas, or around 300 venues, and then expand to over 500 on Jan. 7. Bill Condon's drama about sex researcher Alfred Kinsey has amassed a comparably flaccid $4.4 million through its fifth weekend of limited release.

Sony sneaked Spanglish at 1,119 theaters attached to Christmas with the Kranks and saw 75% attendance. Demographically, the James L. Brooks-directed comedy skewed female at 56% of moviegoers, according to studio exit polling, and 60% were over 25 years old. Audiences enjoyed it as 91% rated it "excellent" or "very good." The picture opens Dec. 17 at over 2,200 theaters.

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12/13 - 'Ocean' Swings, 'Blade' Dulls
REVIEW: 'Life Aquatic' - A Comic Fish Tale
REVIEW: 'Polar Express' - Ticket to Ride
REVIEW: 'Closer' - Attack of the Moans
REVIEW: 'Alexander' - Oliver's Story
REVIEW: 'Kinsey' - Sex & Love, Actually

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New MPAA Ratings Added
DAILY: Monday, 7/16 (32 tracked)
WEEKEND: Weekend Actuals, 'Hotel Transylvania 3' #1
DAILY: Friday, 'Hotel Transylvania 3' #1
WEEKLY: 'Ant-Man and the Wasp Tops the Week with $103.9m
DAILY: Thursday 7/12 (40 tracked)
DAILY: Wednesday, 7/11 (35 tracked)
DAILY: Tuesday, 7/10 (38 tracked)