News

'Ghost Rider' Blazes in Debut

by Brandon Gray
A scene from Ghost Rider
February 20, 2007

Ghost Rider steered a herd of new releases to the highest overall gross the President's Day four-day holiday weekend has ever seen: $188 million. After four down weeks, the box office came roaring back with a 20 percent increase over the same frame in 2006 when Eight Below was on top.

Ablaze with a new President's Day four-day opening record, Ghost Rider rustled up $52 million on around 5,100 screens at 3,619 theaters. Sony's $110 million Marvel Comics adaptation follows in the footsteps of past President's Day comic book movies, Daredevil with $45.1 million in 2003 and Constantine with $33.6 million in 2005. Sony's exit polling indicated that Ghost Rider's audience was 62 percent male and 63 percent 18 to 39 years old.

Among hell-themed comic book movies, Ghost Rider handily burned brighter than Constantine, Hellboy and Spawn and it continued the trend of popular comic book characters delivering sizable openings. Daredevil and Constantine's four-day openings each accounted for 44 percent of their final grosses, and, if Ghost Rider follows suit, it would make over $110 million by the time it's extinguished.

For the most part, the market expanded to accommodate the five new wide releases. Aside from Ghost Rider, Bridge to Terabithia, Music and Lyrics, Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls and Breach each debuted to over $12 million.

Bridge to Terabithia opened to $28.5 million on around 3,700 screens at 3,139 locations, exceeding expectations with distributor Buena Vista's highest grossing February start on record. Co-produced with Walden Media, the company whose bailiwick is children's book adaptations like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Bridge to Terabithia was promoted as another fantasy adventure like Narnia or Eragon with trailers and commercials comprised almost entirely of the picture's brief special effects sequences. How this misrepresentation of the actual movie impacts future business remains to be seen, but in the short term Bridge benefited from being the first significant family picture of the year.

Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant in Music and Lyrics
Meanwhile, Music and Lyrics didn't pop like a catchy star-driven romantic comedy should but it still scored $15.9 million at 2,955 venues for $21.4 million in six days. Starring genre staples Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, the Eighties-themed picture sold about half the tickets that Barrymore's similar The Wedding Singer did on President's Day weekend in 1998, but it was above average for both Grant and Barrymore. Warner Bros.' marketing sold their banter but did not emphasize the hook, which was the music.

While it was without Madea and the accompanying fat-suit comedy kick, Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls made $13.1 million at 2,111 theaters for a solid $18.8 million in six days. Perry's Madea-oriented comedy-dramas Diary of Mad Black Woman and Madea's Family Reunion had three-day openings of $21.9 million and $30 million, respectively. Another fat-suit comedy, Norbit, devoured $19.9 million in its second outing for $62 million in 11 days, although its business was down a steep 51 percent comparing three-day weekends.

Chris Cooper (right) and Ryan Phillippe (left, background) in Breach
It may have ranked sixth for the weekend, but Breach secured $12.3 million at 1,489 sites, which was in the range of The Good Shepherd and Syriana. Espionage is a consistently intriguing subject matter to audiences, and distributor Universal Pictures marketed Breach as a taut character thriller—the studio has lately displayed a knack for making the most of modest movies, including Smokin' Aces and Because I Said So.

RELATED ARTICLES
• Scott Holleran - 'Bridge to Terabithia' Buckles
• Review - Music and Lyrics
• Review - Breach
• 2/21/06 - 'Eight Below' Enjoys Warm Receptions (Same Weekend, 2006)
• 2/22/05 - 'Constantine' Smokes in Debut (Same Weekend, 2005)
• 2/18/03 - 'Daredevil' Hits Bullseye (Same Weekend, 2003)

RELATED CHARTS
•
4-day Weekend Box Office Results
• 3-day Weekend Box Office Results
• All Time President's Day Weekend Openings
• Comic Book Adaptations
• Children's Book Adaptations
• Romantic Comedies
• Spy Movies

NOTE: This report was originally written on Monday, Feb. 19 and was revised on Tuesday, Feb. 20 with actual grosses.



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