Overall, the weekend logged a 44 percent improvement over the same frame last year, when The Amityville Horror haunted the top spot with $23.5 million. Propelled by Ice Age: The Meltdown and Scary Movie 4 in recent weeks, 2006 as a whole now leads 2005 at the same point by three percent.
Scary Movie 4, a $45 million-budgeted horror comedy that mixes imitations of such recent movies as War of the Worlds, The Grudge and Saw with crude slapstick, pop culture and potty humor, drew mostly youths. According to Dimension, the Weinstein Company's genre division, 72 percent of the audience was under 25 years old and 53 percent was male.
Director David Zucker, who helped popularize the spoof sub-genre with The Naked Gun and Airplane! movies, returned at the Scary helm after overseeing Scary Movie 3, which grabbed $48.1 million in its first weekend in October 2003—resurrecting the Wayans brothers-originated franchise after it fizzled with the second picture. Zucker and Dimension will re-team on another spoof, Superhero Movie, scheduled to strike theaters Feb. 9 next year.
"Scary Movie 3 did a bit better but it opened in October, helped by the Halloween tie-in," said Steve Bunnell, Weinstein Company's chairman of domestic distribution. "We're presenting this movie as a broad PG-13 comedy. We've expanded it beyond horror movies to pop culture. That's why we felt we could go on Easter. These movies are always parodying and satirizing fresh material, compared to other franchises." Bunnell confirmed that Scary Movie 5 is in the pipeline, but no date was set.
While Scary Movie 4's debut was 16 percent smaller than its predecessor, only four other franchises have been more potent by their fourth entries in terms of initial attendance: Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman and Lethal Weapon. Scary Movie 4 had less impact than Scary Movie 3, in part, because the movies spoofed this time were less indelible than 3's crop (The Ring, Signs, 8 Mile, The Others, The Matrix).
Due to the Easter holiday, the weekend was front-loaded on Good Friday, with most movies appealing to school-aged children and teens losing business on Saturday, which is normally the biggest day of the week. Scary Movie 4 suffered the steepest Saturday slide (29 percent), and the picture should quickly flame out like Scary Movie 3, which made 44 percent of its final $110 million gross in its first weekend.
The Weinstein Company will split Scary Movie 4 grosses with Disney-owned Miramax—Disney retained a stake in the Scary Movie franchise as part of the Weinstein brothers' separation from the company. Disney grossed far more from Scary Movie 4 over the weekend than it did from the other major new release, The Wild, a computer-animated feature that Disney out-sourced production of to Canada-based company C.O.R.E. Digital.
Showing that nifty computer animation, like the traditionally-drawn variety, cannot save a weak or tired premise, The Wild captured a tame $9.7 million at 2,854 locations, compared to $20 million for Ice Age: The Meltdown in its third weekend. The $80 million Wild had an uphill climb in the wake of the alpha family movie, Ice Age, and its plight was not helped by an unfortunate resemblance to last year's Madagascar and a similar animal-friends-on-a-quest set-up as Ice Age.
Lobbed into national release after a solid limited run, Fox Searchlight's Thank You for Smoking dragged $4.5 million out of 1,015 venues. While its $11.5 million tally is healthy for the under-$7 million satire, the weekend exhibited the cynical material's limited appeal.
• 4/18/05 - 'Horror' Takes Toll on Tax Weekend (Same Weekend, Last Year)
• Top Easter Openings
• Scary Movie Franchise
• Computer Animation
• Weekend Box Office Results
NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, April 16 and was revised on Monday, April 17 with actual grosses.