Boogeyman went for horror fans who mostly flock to theaters on Fridays and Saturdays, while romantic comedy The Wedding Date targeted women who tend not to watch football. What's more, both pictures were not produced by their respective distributors, Sony and Universal, and marked the second releases in distribution deals with outside production companies, Ghost House Pictures and Gold Circle Films.
The National Football League's 39th Super Bowl hit the Sunday box office hard. The top 12 movies had an average drop of 63% on Sunday, compared to 37% last Sunday. Super Bowl Sunday in 2004 saw an average fall of 65%.
Boogeyman grabbed $19.0 million at 3,052 theaters, the biggest opening ever on Super Bowl weekend. It marks the fifth year in a row that Sony has launched a picture against the Super Bowl and its fourth No. 1 on the frame—the distributor had You Got Served last year, which bowed to $16.1 million, Darkness Falls in 2003, Slackers in 2002 and The Wedding Planner in 2001.
The Grudge was the first picture from Sam Raimi's low budget horror-focused Ghost House, and the trailer for Boogeyman was attached to that $110.4 million hit. Sony bought the distribution rights to Boogeyman for $7 million, and the marketing campaign crafted by their Screen Gems division emphasized the primal terror the mythical character provokes as the first imaginary thing that scares many kids.
After No. 1 debuts for White Noise, Hide and Seek and Boogeyman, the parade of horror will not be letting up as movies like Constantine, Cursed and The Ring Two still loom. But moviegoers are consistently disappointed by the latest offerings, so one wonders if the genre will soon suffer from overload.
The Wedding Date wooed $11.1 million at 1,694 venues, beating industry expectations that had it pegged at $7 million at most. The audience skewed heavily female at 75%, and 49% were over the age of 30, according to Universal's exit polling. Moviegoers said "comedy and humor" was the top reason they saw the picture at 62%, followed by the "romance" (58%) and the "story" (52%).
Gold Circle, one of the companies behind My Big Fat Greek Weeding, foot the bill for the less-than-$15 million production starring Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney, just as it did for its first picture with Universal, White Noise. Universal markets the movies.
"I thought it was perfect counter-programming to Boogeyman, and the timing was right for a movie for women," Universal's head of distribution, Nikki Rocco, told Box Office Mojo.
Appealing to a female audience on Super Bowl weekend has often worked well in the past, namely with romantic comedies She's All That, which opened to $16.1 million in 1999, and The Wedding Planner, which bowed to $13.5 million.
Among milestones over the weekend, Sideways' total grew to $46.7 million to eclipse The Full Monty's $45.9 million as the highest grossing picture ever for distributor Fox Searchlight. The Aviator climbed to $75.9 million, passing Ray's $74.3 million as the highest grossing Best Picture nominee.
• Super Bowl Openings since 1982
• Weekend Box Office Chart
NOTE: This story was updated on Feb. 7 with actual grosses.