THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING continued its record-breaking assault on the box office, grabbing $72.6M domestically over the weekend ended Dec. 21, 2003, and $125.1M for its first five days. Overseas, the final RINGS movie took in $125M in 28 territories, breaking all-time opening records in the U.K., Austria, Germany, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland and New Zealand. That's more than $250M on more than 14,000 screens worldwide (7,205 domestically), shattering the previous five-day record of THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS ($202.8M) and eclipsing THE TWO TOWERS ($201.8M). Domestically, the five-day opener puts RETURN OF THE KING in third place behind THE MATRIX RELOADED ($144.4M) and SPIDER-MAN ($135.8M). Still, it ranks as the best December weekend opening ever, beating THE TWO TOWERS ($62M). Overall, it stands as the seventh best opening ever, and the third best of the year, behind MATRIX RELOADED ($91.8M) and X2 ($85.6M). It appears to be a triumph in every way for New Line, director Peter Jackson and his crew and Weta Digital, which did most of the vfx and improved upon its previous work.
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After typical studio jockeying back and forth during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, THE CAT IN THE HAT remained on top of the box office chart when all the dust settled. That is, if you count the three-day weekend and not the five-day tally. The Universal movie produced by Imagine Entertainment (with vfx by Rhythm & Hues) hauled in $24.4M for the three-day period (and $32.9M for the five days ended Nov. 30).
New Line's Christmas satire, ELF (with vfx by Rhythm & Hues and Amalgamated Pixels) won the box office weekend ended Nov. 16, 2003. After two weeks, ELF has grabbed a tidy $70.3M. Fox's Oscar contender, MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD, debuted in second place with a respectable but certainly not commanding $25.1M.
Considering how hard it was to get FREDDY VS. JASON on the big screen, New Line must be smiling now, as the dual franchise frightener (with vfx principally by Cinesite (Hollywood), Pixel Magic and Asylum) scared up $36.4M for the weekend box office ending Aug. 17, 2003. In fact, not even the power blackout that struck the Northeast and parts of the Midwest hindered the horror film, even when power was still out in large areas on Friday night.
As expected, Sony's S.W.A.T. ruled the weekend box office ending Aug. 10, 2003, with an impressive $37M (with VFX by Pixel Magic). Disney's FREAKY FRIDAY remake came in second, drawing a very impressive $22.2M and $33.1M for the five-day period, with Jacqueline Allard serving as digital compositor for the VFX. Universal's AMERICAN WEDDING (with VFX by Soho VFX) took third place after a 53% nose-dive, garnering $15.4M and $65.2M in its second weekend.
As expected, Disney's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL blew away all comers for the weekend of July 11-13, 2003. The estimated weekend gross was a very impressive $46.4M, while the five-day figure came in at $70.4M, exceeding most expectations.
TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES may have won the Independence holiday box office race for Warner Bros., taking in $44M for the weekend and $72.3M for the five-day period (bolstered by the combined VFX of Industrial Light + Magic, Anatomorphex, Pacific Data Images, Pacific Titles & Optical and Stan Winston Studio), but the big story was FINDING NEMO.
Sony's CHARLIE'S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE (with Sony Pictures Imageworks and The Orphanage supplying the bulk of the VFX) may have won the box office derby, but its $37.6M was less than spectacular. So far, the 2003 summer box office is 2% less than last year's. Universal's THE HULK, meanwhile, plunged nearly 70% in its second weekend, adding $18.8M, still good enough for second place. The ILM VFX feast has earned $100.5M thus far.
THE HULK came out slugging last weekend with the highest June opener ever at $62.1M, despite mixed reviews about the content of Ang Lee's heady adaptation of the Marvel comic and ILM's execution of the CG monster. Universal's latest entry in the comic book genre overtook AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME for the best June debut, and tied MONSTERS, INC. as the 17th best opener of all time. It also marks the seventh consecutive straight number one opening for Marvel. THE HULK comes in third right behind SPIDER-MAN'S $114.8M opening and X2: X-MEN UNITED's $85.6M last month.
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He wears a hooded sweatshirt, sunglasses and talks, thanks to special effects by Asylum and The Secret Lab! He's KANGAROO JACK, the down under comedy that hopped to the top of the box office heap this weekend, earning $17.6M in its debut. In second place was another new release, NATIONAL SECURITY, starring Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn, which debuted with $15.7M. Last week's number one film JUST MARRIED fell to third with $12.4M for a total $34M.
For the third weekend in a row, LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS, with visual effects by Weta Digital, ruled the box office, earning a lordly $25M for a three week cume of $261M. So far, the second installment in the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy has earned 26% more over a comparable period of time than its 2001 predecessor, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. This bodes well for the final act, THE RETURN OF THE KING, which will bow in theaters December 2004. Holding on to second place was CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, with visual effects by Asylum and a stunning animated opening sequence by Nexus Prods.
LORD OF THE RINGS ruled the last box office weekend of 2002 with THE TWO TOWERS topping $200M after 12 days in release. The second film in the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, with visual effects by Weta Digital, earned $48.9M over the weekend for a total of $200.1M. In second place was CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, with visual effects by Asylum, which debuted on Christmas Day with $10M. The film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, earned $30M this weekend for a five-day cume of $48.6M.
The Thanksgiving holiday weekend worked some magic for HARRY POTTER, but didn't add up to treasure for Disney's latest animated effort. Debuting on Wednesday, November 27, Disney's animated adventure TREASURE PLANET opened in fourth place with $16.5M, barely edging out the holiday's other animated debut, Adam Sandler's EIGHT CRAZY NIGHTS, which earned $15.1M over the four-day weekend for fifth place.
Over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday weekend Nickelodeon will offer a behind-the-scenes look at Nickelodeons animation studio in Burbank, California, as well as premieres of new episodes of RUGRATS, ROCKET POWER, THE FAIRLY ODDPARENTS and THE ADVENTURES OF JIMMY NEUTRON, BOY GENIUS and holiday-themed episodes of popular Nicktoons including CATDOG, HEY, ARNOLD! and RUGRATS. The cast of the live-action series ALL THAT hosts the "Non-Stop Nicktoons Weekend," chatting with animators and creators about favorite Nicktoons' characters.
Working its magic on the box office this weekend, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS claimed the third highest grossing opening weekend ever, after its predecessor HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE ($90.3M) and this summer's super SPIDER-MAN ($114.8M). Not surprisingly, CHAMBER, with primary visual effects by ILM, was the number one film this weekend, earning $87.6M. The wizards of Hogwart's knocked the rappers of Detroit down to second, as last week's number one film 8 MILE took in $21.7M for a two-week total of $54.4M.
A movie based on the MTV stunt show JACKASS took the top spot this weekend, booting DreamWorks' suspense flick THE RING down to second place. JACKASS: THE MOVIE debuted with a surprising $22.7M, the third highest grossing October debut ever. THE RING, with visual effects by Method Studios, Rhythm & Hues, Asylum and Tippett Studios, came in second with $18.7M, for a two-week total of $39.4M. Debuting in third with $11.5M was the spooky sea voyage GHOST SHIP, featuring visual effects by Photon VFX.
Last week's number one film, RED DRAGON, held off six new wide-release films this weekend to hang on to the top spot. The thriller, with visual effects by Cinesite, earned $17.6M for a two-week total of $67.2M. Theatergoers are still sweet on SWEET HOME ALABAMA, which stayed in second adding $14.1M, for a total of $84.5M. Two new releases the romance BROWN SUGAR and the action flick THE TRANSPORTER, took third and forth, with $11M and $9.1M, respectively.
Opening in just 940 theaters, JONAH: A VEGGIETALES MOVIE had a solid debut weekend, earning $6.5M for sixth place. A retelling of the biblical story of Jonah, starring a humble cast of vegetables, JONAH will expand into more theaters this Friday, ramping up to wide release on October 18th. Given the popularity of the VEGGIETALES stories, and that this is the first family-friendly release since August, JONAH looks to have some staying power at the box office. The number one film this weekend was RED DRAGON, the "prequel" to SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and HANNIBAL. The thriller debuted with $37.5M.
In a lackluster box office weekend, teen thriller SWIMFAN took the top spot with a mere $11.3M, while last week's number one, SIGNS, fell to fourth. Overall, the top 12 films grossed $59.1 million, making it the worst weekend take of the year, according to tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. In second was indie sensation MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, with $10.4M and $95.8M total, and in third was the crime drama CITY BY THE SEA, debuting with $8.9M. SIGNS, with visual effects by ILM, grossed just $7.9M this weekend but that was enough to help M.
Aliens are proving to be big box office this summer, as MEN IN BLACK II debuts at number one, and LILO AND STITCH breaks the $100M mark after three weeks. MEN IN BLACK II, the sequel to the 1997 blockbuster, has taken in a record-breaking total of $90M since its Wednesday, July 4 debut, knocking last week's number one film MR. DEEDS, to second with $18.8M for the weekend and $74M to date.
The CIA thriller THE SUM OF ALL FEARS, with visual effects by Rhythm & Hues, came in at number one again this weekend, earning $18.7M for a two-week total of $61.7M. The Ya-Ya's battled the Clones to take second, as chick-flick THE DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD earned $16.3M in its debut weekend and STAR WARS: EPISODE II, with visual effects by ILM, dropped to third with $13.8M and a four-week cume of $254.9M.
DreamWorks' SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON couldn't win the holiday box office race, but it came in a respectable fourth. Facing up to the challenge of STAR WARS: EPISODE II "ATTACK OF THE CLONES" second weekend and the tenacious hold of SPIDER-MAN, SPIRIT trotted into fourth place with $23M and generally good reviews, meaning this might be one traditionally-animated pony you can bet on for a solid summer box office.
THE TIME MACHINE, the latest adaptation of H.G. Wells classic sci-fi novel about the futuristic land of the Morlochs, was number one this weekend, earning $22.6M in its debut. The film, with visual effects by Digital Domain and ILM, was directed by Simon Wells (PRINCE OF EGYPT), H.G. Wells great grandson. The Vietnam war drama WHEN WE WERE SOLDIERS, with visual effects by Digital Domain, dropped to second, bringing in $14.2M for $40.5M. Disneys RETURN TO NEVER LAND is still staying well within the top ten in its fourth week earning $4.5M for a total of $41.5M to date and sixth place.
Two weeks ago HARTS WAR barely made a blip in the box office and quickly dropped out of the top ten, but viewers seem ready to welcome a new military drama. WHEN WE WERE SOLDIERS, with visual effects by Digital Domain, made a big debut this weekend, earning $20.2M. In second place was the teen flick 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS with $12.5M. Last weeks number one film THE QUEEN OF THE DAMNED, with visual effects by Grey Matters FX and Manex, suffered a major drop this weekend, falling all the way to sixth place earning just $5.8M a 60% drop from last weekend.