News

'Apocalypto' Impales Top Spot

by Brandon Gray
Rudy Youngblood in Apocalypto
December 11, 2006

Far from cataclysmic, Apocalypto led a modest weekend ravaged by the lack of broadly appealing pictures. Compared to last year when The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe drew $65.6 million alone, overall business was down 22 percent.

With $15 million on around 2,800 screens at 2,465 theaters, Mel Gibson's $40 million Mayan massacre racked up initial weekend attendance in the range of Braveheart, Alexander and The 13th Warrior. Distributor Buena Vista reported that the audience was 60 percent male, while moviegoer pollster CinemaScore's rating was a mediocre "B+."

While there is an audience for historical epics and action-adventure, Apocalypto's opening was solid for a picture in a foreign language and without a relatable entry point, but it was no underdog. It was a goliath in terms of publicity as Gibson's follow-up to The Passion of Christ, one of the most stunning box office phenomena in history. Gibson, in the news earlier this year for his anti-Jewish ranting and drunk driving arrest, was front and center in Apocalypto's marketing, including commercials where he explained what the movie was about.

Jude Law and Cameron Diaz in The Holiday
Trailing Apocalypto, The Holiday garnered $12.8 million on 3,200 screens at 2,610 theaters, a debut in the vicinity of The Lake House and Must Love Dogs. Distributor Sony's research indicated that 65 percent of the audience was female and 57 percent was over 25 years old.

Director Nancy Meyers' $85 million romantic comedy featuring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black marked the first major entry in its genre since The Break-Up in June, and, while the start was nothing special, the audience at this time of year tends to be more spread-out beyond opening weekend. For instance, Meyers' previous movie, Something's Gotta Give, debuted to $16.1 million on the same weekend in 2003 but closed with $124.7 million, while smaller December pictures like The Family Stone and Spanglish still made five times their openings by the end of their runs.

Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond
Blood Diamond vied for the action audience with Apocalypto, but extracted $8.6 million on 2,300 screens at 1,910 locations. While it starred Leonardo DiCaprio coming off of three $100 million-plus grossers in a row (Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator, The Departed), the $100 million African adventure drama wasn't as unique as Apocalypto in a market bombarded with similar pictures like Babel, Catch a Fire and The Last King of Scotland. Distributor Warner Bros. said that Blood Diamond's audience was split evenly between genders and those over and under the age of 30, and the hope is that word-of-mouth carries it through the holidays.

Unaccompanied Minors, also released by Warner Bros., bagged $5.8 million on 2,900 screens at 2,775 theaters. The $25 million family comedy sold fewer tickets out of the gate than Home Alone 3 and lacked distinct appeal with its group of anonymous kids and pratfalls at an airport.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros.' Happy Feet eased 26 percent to $12.9 million for $137.9 million in 24 days, and the studio expects the animated comedy to surpass $200 million.

With the action distraction of Apocalypto and Blood Diamond, Casino Royale retreated 41 percent to $8.9 million for $129 million in 24 days. The drop was in line with the last four James Bond movies at the same point.

RELATED ARTICLES
Review - The Holiday
Review - Blood Diamond
Same Weekend in 2005: 'Narnian' Delight
1/30/05 - 'Passion,' 'Fahrenheit' Tops in 2004
Same Weekend in 2004: 'Ocean' Swings, 'Blade' Dulls

RELATED CHARTS
Weekend Box Office Results
Romantic Comedies

NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, Dec. 10 and was revised on Monday, Dec. 11 with actual grosses.



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