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'Aviator,' 'Lemony' Lead Modest Lot Under 'Fockers'

by Brandon Gray
January 3, 2005

Holdovers, expansions and other new movies were downright modest compared to Meet the Fockers' dominating performance.

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events went sour in its second weekend, diving 58% to $12.5 million, but it rebounded 16% during its third weekend to $14.6 million. Thanks to strong mid-week business through the holidays, the $140 million Jim Carrey family adventure has amassed $94.6 million in 17 days, still an inauspicious start for a potential franchise.

The Aviator climbed to $11.4 million in its first full weekend of wide release at 1,796 theaters, lifting its total to $31.5 million. Business for the $110 million drama about Howard Hughes was comparable to director Martin Scorsese and star Leonardo DiCaprio's previous collaboration Gangs of New York, which made $10.9 million on its comparable weekend in 2002 en route to $77.8 million. Distributor Miramax's exit polling had 84% of moviegoers rating The Aviator either "excellent" or "very good" and 72% giving it a definite "definite recommend," while there was a 50-50 split between genders and the audience skewed slightly older.

Fat Albert stuffed $10.2 million at 2,744 venues in its first full weekend. Fox's opening day exit polling showed that 69% of moviegoers were families and 47% were kids under 12 years old, but teens were a significant factor as well. With $33.3 million in nine days, Bill Cosby's adaptation of his '70s cartoon show isn't making hay and is not another Garfield for Fox, but it could end up close to the $63 million average for live action cartoon adaptations.

Ocean's Twelve crossed the century mark on Friday, its 22nd day of release. For the weekend, it bagged $9.4 million, bringing its total to $107.0 million. So far, it's tracking 16% behind Ocean's Eleven, which had snared $127.7 million at the same point.

National Treasure surged 71% to $6.8 million, jumping from No. 11 to No. 6. The Nicolas Cage adventure has uncovered $154.8 million in 45 days. Also crossing the $150 million mark was The Polar Express, which is finally losing steam now that Christmas is over, while the season's biggest movie The Incredibles soared past the $250 million mark after enjoying a 72% bump over the weekend.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou drifted to $4.4 million at 1,105 locations in its first full weekend, down 3% from its two-day gross last weekend. The $50 million comedy starring Bill Murray has accrued $14.8 million, but could sink fast in coming weeks as audience reaction has been mixed and it's no longer a contender in the awards derby. Director Wes Anderson's last picture The Royal Tenenbaums, also featuring Murray, peaked at 999 theaters, but was much more potent early on than The Life Aquatic. Made for $21 million, the 2001 comedy earned $8.5 million in its first weekend of wide release (751 theaters), though it ultimately fizzled to a $52.4 million total.

Darkness, an $11 million haunted house horror starring Anna Paquin, crept to $16.6 million—a decent tally considering the picture has been in the can since 2001 and seemed destined to go straight-to-video. Playing at 1,718 theaters, it made $4.6 million over the weekend, down a sharp 25% from its $6.2 million two-day gross last weekend. Miramax's genre division Dimension paid $4 million for the distribution rights and trimmed the originally R-rated movie to garner a PG-13.

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