'Invincible' Tackles Top Spot

by Brandon Gray
Mark Wahlberg in Invincible
August 28, 2006

Invincible led the roster on summer's penultimate weekend, which was typically mundane as a whole yet five percent above the same frame a year ago. Summer 2006's tally stands at $3.6 billion, seven percent ahead of last year.

The latest in Walt Disney Pictures' line of inspirational sports dramas, Invincible, fielded a solid $17 million from around 3,300 screens at 2,917 theaters. The picture had a similar premise as Disney's The Rookie, replacing baseball with football, and sold nearly as many tickets initially.

"This was split right down the middle of the goal post of where we thought it would be," said Chris LeRoy, Buena Vista's senior vice president general sales manager. "The opening was right in line with tracking, and it was right in between Miracle and The Rookie."

Invincible's release was timed to capitalize on anticipation for the new football season. "We did the same thing with The Rookie right before spring training in baseball," LeRoy noted.

Featuring Mark Wahlberg as a regular guy who makes the National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles team in 1976, Invincible's hook also bore a striking similarity to Wahlberg's Rock Star, with heavy metal music instead of football, but Invincible grossed in one weekend what Rock Star did in its entire run.

According to moviegoer pollster CinemaScore, Invincible drew mostly adults as the audience was 51 percent aged 35 years and older. The research further indicated a better-than-expected female turn-out of 47 percent, and the picture scored an "A-" grade on average.

Two other adult-appealing pictures Little Miss Sunshine and The Illusionist successfully expanded over the weekend. Fox Searchlight's Little Miss Sunshine is a bona fide hit after several weeks of strong limited play, gathering $7.4 million at 1,430 theaters, up 739. The $8 million dysfunctional family comedy's total rolled to $22.9 million in 33 days.

Jessica Biel and Edward Norton in The Illusionist
Showing promise in its second weekend, Yari Film Group's The Illusionist cast $1.8 million at 144 venues, up 93 and averaging a potent $12,744 per site. The period drama has tallied $3.2 million in 10 days and is scheduled for over 800 theaters on Sept. 1.

Meanwhile, last weekend's hyped Snakes on a Plane continued to perform like an average horror movie, descending 55 percent to $6.2 million for a venomless $26.3 million in 10 days.

Universal Pictures' Idlewild fared best among the weekend's other debuts. Rap group OutKast's 1930s gangster musical packed $5.7 million at 973 venues, which was less than last summer's rap movie Hustle and Flow. Universal's research indicated that 82 percent of Idlewild's audience was black, 55 percent over 30 and 61 percent female.

Opening anemically were Beerfest and How to Eat Fried Worms. The latest from a comedy troupe called Broken Lizard that has yet to break out, Warner Bros.' Beerfest, chugged a light $7 million at a very wide 2,964 sites, better than their previous picture, Club Dread, and on par with their first movie, Super Troopers, which played at far fewer theaters.

How to Eat Fried Worms, Walden Media and New Line Cinema's adaptation of the famous children's novel, slurped up $4 million at 1,870 locations. As puny as it was, the gross was slightly higher than Walden and New Line's last collaboration, Hoot.

Review - Invincible
Review - Idlewild
8/24/06 - Scott Holleran: Walden Media Lays 'Fried' Egg
8/29/05 - 'Virgin,' 'Grimm' Top Glum Weekend

Weekend Box Office Results
Sports Dramas
Football Movies
That '70s Movie
Road Trip Comedies
Children's Book Adaptations

NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, Aug. 27 and was revised on Monday, Aug. 28 with actual grosses.

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