News

'Semi-Pro' Can't Jump

by Brandon Gray
Will Ferrell in Semi-Pro
March 2, 2008

Living up to its title, Semi-Pro delivered less than half the audience of a major Will Ferrell comedy, though it was enough to win a minor league time at the box office. The weekend was the least attended late February/early March frame in 11 years, due to uninspiring holdovers and Ferrell being off his game.

Semi-Pro dunked an estimated $15.2 million on approximately 4,000 screens at 3,121 theaters, far behind the openings for Ferrell's previous sports comedies Blades of Glory and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Semi-Pro also halved the initial audiences of comparable comedies like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story and Starsky and Hutch. Ferrell absurdly playing professional sports was the centerpiece of promotions for Blades and Talladega, but the marketing campaign for Semi-Pro did not play this up, and the picture came off as a vague retread of Ferrell's past antics, from the '70s theme to Ferrell showing off his body as if he were a hunk. To point to the movie's "R" rating as a significant reason for a soft opening would be a canard.

Faring relatively better, The Other Boleyn Girl plucked an estimated $8.3 million on 1,300 screens at 1,166 locations. Sold as a torrid bodice ripper, the historical drama had a better start than recent similar pictures Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Marie Antoinette. Distributor Sony's exit polling indicated that 72 percent of the audience was female and 66 percent was under 35 years old. Also debuting nationwide, fairy tale comedy-drama Penelope eked out a meager estimated $4 million at 1,196 venues.

Last weekend's champ Vantage Point had a typical drop for a high profile thriller, retreating 43 percent to an estimated $13 million for $41 million in ten days. The Spiderwick Chronicles again held better than Bridge to Terabithia at the same point last year, down 33 percent to an estimated $8.8 million for $55.1 million in 18 days. Jumper and Step Up 2 the Streets had decent drops by genre standards of about 40 percent each.

Juno notched the smallest drop among non-expanding nationwide releases, down 19 percent to an estimated $3.4 million for $135.1 million. It's still the highest grosser of the calendar year. The movie that beat it for the Best Picture Oscar, No Country for Old Men, nearly doubled its theater count for its widest release yet, 2,037 sites, but mustered a slim estimated $4 million, a 67 percent increase. The crime drama was already a success prior to the Oscar attention and its bounty increased to $69.6 million in nearly four months. Best Actor winner There Will Be Blood saw its fortunes falter 41 percent, mining an estimated $1.6 million for a $37.6 million tally.

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