SUNDAY AM: Here are the official box office numbers — Sex And The City finished its opening weekend No. 1 with North American domestic gross of $55.7 million in 3,285 theaters. The R-rated female romantic comedy posted a great $16,968 per screen average even though many multiplexes had it playing on 7+ screens. But after a female phenomenal Friday opening of $26.9M, the pic plunged 34% to make only $17.7 million on Saturday. And Sunday estimates expect another 37% downturn for $11.1 million. So on both Saturday and Sunday, the romantic comedy will be beaten by Paramount’s Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull which playing in 4,264 venues earned $12.2M on Friday, $19.8M Saturday and an estimated $13.9M Sun for a weekend total of $46M, which was -54% from its Memorial Weekend debut. But because of steady business, it’s made a cumulative $216.8M. That’s exactly what Hollywood pros had been warning about: that Sex And The City would be a one-day, and one-weekend, wonder with no legs. But it still opened as the biggest R-rated comedy motion picture (beating American Pie 2‘s $45.1M) and the 5th biggest R-rated film ever released (behind The Matrix, The Passion Of The Christ, 300, and Hannibal). The only female-driven movie to come close to SATC in box office was the Hannah Montana movie, but there’s no comparable R-rated chick flick.
So I’ve just heard that Warner Bros is already planning the Sex And The City sequel! “It’s the only female movie that’s created a frenzy,” a top Warner Bros exec told me this morning. “To me, this is a cultural phenomenon. Hats off to Michael Patrick King and Sarah Jessica Parker and their team because they dug in their hooks and knew how to make it work.” According to the exit polling I’ve obtained, an incredible 85% of the audience for the movie’s opening Friday were women, and of those 80% were over the age of 25. Warner Bros claims to be seeing repeat business already. On Saturday, the audience was 75% females, who came back with boyfriends and husbands in tow. That’s why the studio feels the pic is “extremely well positioned” to keep making money. Only the numbers will tell.
Thanks to counter-programming against Sex, the 3rd-place shocker this weekend was Rogue Pictures/ Universal’s horror pic The Strangers which opened with $20.7 million from 2,466 theatres for a big per theatre average of $8,397. That’s far above industry expectations and the biggest opening gross ever for a Rogue Pictures film, and its negative cost is only $9M. Amazingly, this flick also posted Universal Pictures highest opener of 2008 (more than Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s $17.7M). According to exit stats, the audience was about evenly divided male and female (49% male vs. 51% female); under 25 yrs of age = 62%; 25 yrs of age and older = 38%; ethnically diverse, with slightly less than half Caucasian (47%), followed by Hispanic, African American, Asian, and “other.”
Here’s the Top 10 chart as of Sunday AM:
1. Sex And The City (HBO Films/New Line/WB) — 3-day Wkd: $55.7M, Cume: $55.7M
2. Indiana Jones 4 (Paramount) — 3-Day Wkd: $46M, Cume: $216.8M
3. The Strangers (Universal) — 3-day Wkd $20.7M, Cume: $20.7M
4. Iron Man (Paramount) — 3-Day Wkd: $140M, Cume: $276.6M
5. Chronicles of Narnia 2 (Disney) — 3-Day Wkd: $13M, Cume: $115.6M
6. What Happens In Vegas (Fox) — 3-Day Wkd: $6.8M, Cume: $66M
7. Baby Mama (Universal) — 3-Day Wkd: $2.2M, Cume: $56.1M
8. Speed Racer (Warner Bros) — 3-Day Wkd: $2.1M, Cume: $40.5M
9. Made Of Honor (Sony) — 3-Day Wkd: $2M, Cume: $42.9M
10. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Universal) — 3-Day Wkd: $1M, Cume: $60.4M
SATURDAY 10:30 PM: Sources tell me that Sex And The City is pacing to be down 30% today from Friday. This is exactly what Hollywood pros were warning during yesterday’s frenzied female-driven opening that produced phenomenonal box office numbers. The result is that the HBO Films/ New Line/ Warner Bros film about fortysomething women may reign at No. 1 only one day. Because Saturday’s North American gross from Paramount’s Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull will be up 60% to 65% from Friday. So both SATC and Indy 4 are looking at right around $20 million for today. Still, with a huge $15.7M disparity in Friday’s numbers, Sex And The City seems a sure thing to win this weekend: it’s already hauled in a big $46.9M compared with $32.2M for Indiana Jones. So it did in 2 days when movie analysts didn’t even think it could do in 3. But hopes that the pic could break $75M or even $70M this weekend now look more realistic at $60M-$65M. It comes down to Sunday’s real #s. Nevertheless, SATC will wear the crown for the biggest romantic comedy debut ever and bear the title of The Ultimate Chick Flick.
SATURDAY AM: It turns out SEX sells, according to Friday’s official numbers for the biggest romantic comedy debut. No. 1 Sex And The City truly shocked Hollywood pros by opening with a hanging-from-the-chandeliers $26.9 million from 3,285 theaters. The big question now is whether this staggering wanna-see among women for the HBO Films/New Line/Warner Bros female froth sustains through Saturday and Sunday showings so the weekend total can soar past $70M and maybe even $75M. I’m already hearing that studio moguls are looking through their film and TV libraries to see what else they can produce for the fortysomething-and-older female — a demographic that the entertainment industry generally ignores. Not any more — or is SATC a once-in-a-generation phenomenon? But younger women are also seeing the pic. As one tipster told me, “I saw the throngs of women waiting in line — starting at 9ish and still there at midnight when we got out of the movie. The thing I noticed: the women were all early 20s, not in their 30s or 40s at all. They were 18 to 25. So I’m not sure where people are getting this over-40 demo but I am pretty sure it’s the young girls who are the most excited for this flick.”
Paramount’s megahit Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull fell a slightly more than expected 59% for $12.2 million from 4,264 venues for No. 2. Then again, when it opened a week ago, most people had the Friday off, or half-day off, before the Memorial Weekend. The Spielberg/Lucas actioner should finish the weekend with another $40M-$42M for a new cume of $212M. A real surprise was the No. 3 finish of The Strangers with $7.5M. The horror pic, distributed by Universal, is the highest grossing Rogue Picture to date from 2,466 plays. It cost only $9 million and it should gross around $20 million for the weekend — a successful bit of SATC counter-programming.
FRIDAY 11 PM UPDATE: Talk about great Sex! Friday’s opening was a sold-out blow-out! Really early North American box office numbers for Sex And The City could be as high as $26 million to $28 million and for the weekend $65 million to $75 million. That’s stunning the Hollywood pros. “It could reach or exceed the high end if the final West Coast numbers match the East Coast’s. Those totals are huge,” one rival studio exec exclaimed to me. “It’s a true sensation. People thought it would do well. But nothing like this. The top end expected was $40M.” Still, some experts wonder if this HBO Films/New Line/Warner Bros pic is a front-loaded phenomenon and the numbers won’t hold on Saturday. But Sex And The City will beat last weekend’s No. 1 blockbuster from Paramount and Spielberg/Lucas, Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, which made $12M today and should finish by Sunday around $37M-$39M: that’s -60% but last Friday kicked off Memorial Weekend.
Friday night is date night at the movies. But in Los Angeles, Sex And The City female fans from as far away as Phoenix paid $60 for an opening night movie ticket and Cosmopolitan cocktails Friday in the bar of the Arclight theaters. Outside the cineplex, groups of girlfriends organized private pre-screening “Manolos only” parties at nearby restaurants. (Photos, above and left, by Jim Stevenson) The computer fix-it company Geek Squad is handing out quarters at movie theaters in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles so guys dragged to the pic by their girlfriends or wives can play arcade games in the lobby.
In major U.S. cities, reports reaching me are that the R-rated follow-up to the HBO series about the now fortysomething gal pals sold out today because of the buying power of older women. “Remains to be seen how it does in the flyover states, but it’s maxing out in the big cities. Absolutely crazy per-theatre averages in NY, LA, Houston,” one insider just informed. “Early Friday returns are huge. If this holds, it has a good shot of beating Indy this weekend, with a total well above $40M. As of today alone, it’s earned over $20M — although that does include some presales.”
Before Friday, movie analysts were steadily upping their domestic box office gross predictions for this HBO Films/New Line/Warner Bros’ female phenom day by day based on the huge awareness and pent-up wanna-see by women who want still more of their favorite TV show that went off HBO in 2004 but lives on in syndication. My own box office gurus began raising their projected numbers from mid-$20sM to mid $40sM from 3,285 North American theaters in just one weeks’ time period. And online ticket retailer Fandango reported thatwas accounting for an “extraordinary” 90% of its advance sales, with tickets being snapped up at the rate of 7 per second. An online survey of more than 10,000 moviegoers buying tickets from Fandango found that 94% were women, and that 67% planned to attend the movie this weekend with a group of female friends. “This is the wildest, most abnormal, movie of alltime,” one rival studio marketing mogul exclaimed to me. “But it’s hard to say how it will play through the weekend.” Indeed, analysts expect Sex And The City to be a one-day wonder with a big drop-off for Saturday’s and Sunday’s shows, and a humongous fall-off for next weekend. That will depend on whether the pic can live up to its hype. And hyped it has been — so much so that even overseas where the TV series plays in many foreign territories Sex And The City already has grossed nearly $12 million in overseas business since mid-week, including more than $7 million in , nearly $3 million in Germany and $1.3 million in France, according to studio figures.
Paramount’s No. 1 blockbuster Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull is still playing in a massive 4,264 venues and should take in another $40M-$45M this Friday, Saturday and Sunday to add to its one week cume of $170.8M. Also competing is Rogue Pictures / Universal’s genre thriller The Strangers which has positioned itself as counter programming in 2,466 runs. Tracking suggests the film could do $8+M, which would be a solid opening for a film with a negative cost of only $9M. Also, for a horror flick, this one is better than the usual swill that either dumbs down or gorifies the genre.