'Ratatouille' Cooks, 'Die Hard' Lives
A rodent gourmand and a seasoned cop spiced up the summer stew and, though neither delivered a box office feast for the ages, they propelled the first up weekend compared to last year since May.

The weekend's main course, Ratatouille, served up $47 million on approximately 5,800 screens at 3,940 theaters. In terms of attendance, the opening was on par with the first two Pixar features, Toy Story and A Bug's Life, but significantly lower than the rest, including the last one, Cars, which started with $60.1 million on 7,000 screens at 3,985 sites.

Trying a smaller recipe after several epic-sized efforts, Buena Vista and Pixar's eighth feature wasn't expected to reach the initial heights of its brethren. On the surface, Ratatouille had the brand's least universally-appealing subject yet—a rat chef in Paris—not to mention a recent glut of computer animation has rendered the form more and more pedestrian. Still, it had by far the biggest debut for a rodent-themed picture, more than doubling previous high Flushed Away, and in the past year the only animated movie to open bigger was Shrek the Third.

"What we have always played for is the long run," said Chuck Viane, Buena Vista's president of distribution. "In my opinion, Ratatouille will be one of the top grossing movies of the year. When this weekend is over, you're going to have nine million people telling people how much they love this movie." Viane noted moviegoer pollster CinemaScore's "A" rating and how 99 percent of kids are out of school now, compared to 60 percent when Cars opened last year.

After a 12-year dormancy, the Die Hard franchise was revived with Live Free or Die Hard, which notched a $33.4 million weekend on approximately 5,100 screens at 3,408 theaters for a $48.2 million total since Wednesday. Most franchises fade after an extended furlough (Mission: Impossible III, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), but Live Free or Die Hard packed about as much wallop out of the gate as Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Die Hard: With A Vengeance when adjusted for ticket price inflation. Muting its impact, though, Live Free was sold as a routine, monochromatic modern action thriller, replete with a few computer-enhanced set pieces—perked up by the return of Bruce Willis as John McClane.

Also opening in wide release, Focus Features' Evening flopped with $3.5 million at 977 theaters, coming off as a generic women's drama in its advertising.

The weekend saw the expansion of Sicko, director Michael Moore's first movie since Fahrenheit 9/11. The Lionsgate-distributed political documentary about medical care logged $4.5 million on around 550 screens at 441 sites, which was healthy by genre standards but anemic relative to Fahrenheit. Sicko's makers publicly set Moore's Bowling for Columbine as the box office goal for the $9 million picture's success—Bowling racked up $21.6 million by the end of its run.

Last weekend's top grosser, Evan Almighty, evaporated 51 percent to $15.1 million, and the $175 million-plus comedy's $60.7 million ten-day haul is less than what Bruce Almighty grossed in its first weekend alone. 1408 lost a genre standard 48 percent for a $10.7 million weekend, and the $25 million horror drama has made $40.4 million in ten days.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer fell further behind its predecessor through the same point, retreating 54 percent to $9.1 million for $114.9 million in 17 days. Ocean's Thirteen also slipped behind the franchise's previous entry but crossed the $100 million mark.

Knocked Up scored another good hold, down 33 percent to $7.3 million for $122.3 million in 31 days, while Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End had the smallest drop among wide releases, off 31 percent to $5 million for $295.7 million in 38 days.


• Review - Ratatouille

• Review - Live Free or Die Hard

• Review - Sicko

• 7/5/06 - 'Superman' Solid if Unspectacular (Same Weekend, 2006)

• 6/12/06 - Pixar Manufactures Seventh Smash with 'Cars'

• 7/5/05 - 'War' Booms (Same Weekend, 2005)

• 11/8/04 - $70M Fantastic for 'Incredibles


Weekend Box Office Results

• Pixar Movies

• Die Hard Franchise

• Political Documentaries

NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, July 1 and was revised on Monday, July 2 with actual grosses.