News

Flagging 'Cars' Pins Chipper 'Nacho'

by Brandon Gray
A scene from Cars
June 19, 2006

Cars careened off track by the venerable Pixar's standards but still fended off some spicy competition from Nacho Libre and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

Decelerating 44 percent to $33.7 million, Cars experienced the steepest second weekend drop for a non-holiday Pixar release. By comparison, Pixar's sole previous summer title, Finding Nemo, fell 34 percent, and, though Cars' $117.1 million 10-day haul tops Ice Age: The Meltdown from earlier this year, it trails the last four Pixar releases through the same point by a wide margin, adjusted for ticket price inflation. Distributor Buena Vista is banking on summer's booming weekday grosses to bolster Cars moving forward.

Nacho Libre donned a zesty $28.3 million at 3,070 theaters. Distributor Paramount Pictures tag-teamed with corporate cousin Nickelodeon to produce the $35 million Mexican wrestling comedy, and the PG-rated appeal to both teens and families paid off, delivering paunchy star Jack Black's highest-grossing opening in top billing.

"It's beyond anything we anticipated going into the weekend," said Jim Tharp, Paramount's president of distribution. Paramount's exit research indicated that 53 percent of Nacho Libre's audience was male, while 55 percent was under 25 years old, and, according to pollster CinemaScore, moviegoers rated the picture a "B+."

Jack Black in Nacho Libre
Tharp admitted that DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, another goofy June sports comedy hit, was an inspiration for launching Nacho Libre at this time of year. Live-action comedy has been in conservative doses lately, and Nacho regaled potential moviegoers with a trailer striking in its absurdity.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift boasted less than half the horsepower of its predecessor, a result expected for a picture with no connection to its franchise other than its street-racing setting. Universal Pictures' car spectacle revved to $24 million at 3,027 locations, paling next to The Fast and the Furious' $40.1 million and 2 Fast 2 Furious' $50.5 million but comparable to The Chronicles of Riddick's $24.3 million, Universal's last June action picture.

"This franchise has been tremendous through all the ancillary lifecycles," said Nikki Rocco, Universal's president of distribution. "96 percent [of moviegoers] had previously seen the original, and 94 percent had seen the second one." Universal's exit polling further suggested that 60 percent of moviegoers were under 25 and 58 percent were male. The CinemaScore rating was an "A-," about the same as the first two movies.

Keanu Reeves in The Lake House
Counter-programming with what the summer often lacks—romance—The Lake House waded to $13.6 million at 2,645 venues. The somber remake of the star-crossed South Korean drama Il Mare marks the first pairing of Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves since Speed in 1994, but the result was average for the two stars.

"We're actually very pleased with this number," said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros.' president of distribution. "When you look back at summer movies that played predominantly female, like The Notebook and Must Love Dogs, you find that they do extremely well during the week." Females comprised 73 percent of the audience in Warner's research, though the CinemaScore was a lukewarm "B."

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties lapped up a slim $7.3 million, a third of the first movie's $21.7 million opening. More often than not, family sequels make less than their predecessors, and Garfield joins the ranks of 102 Dalmatians, Stuart Little 2 and Babe: Pig in the City among past casualities.

A scene from Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties
Distributor 20th Century Fox hopes Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties will be a fat cat overseas—the first movie was a surprise foreign success, gobbling up $123.2 million versus domestic's $75.4 million. "That's the only reason we made this movie," said Bert Livingston, Fox's general sales manager. "As far as the U.S. is concerned, it's just a crowded marketplace, and we didn't expect it do what the first one did."

Overall, business was up 12 percent from the comparable weekend last year when Batman Begins debuted, but, with $1.34 billion in the till, summer 2006 as a whole stands slightly behind last summer 2005 through the same frame.

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NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, June 18 and was revised on Monday, June 19 with actual grosses.



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