According to The Hollywood Reporter, as the weekend's lone new wide release, Warner Bros. Pictures' The Dukes of Hazzard turned in a royal performance at the boxoffice this weekend. The action-comedy revved up an estimated $30.6 million on its debut to claim the top spot and consequently helped lift the overall session higher than the comparable frame last year.
Co-produced with Village Roadshow and starring Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville and Jessica Simpson, the filmed adaptation of the famed 1970s television series arrived at the high end of expectations, despite an abundance of less-than-flattering reviews. And while not setting any industry records the opening for the Jay Chandrasekhar-directed Dukes, which is rated PG-13, was a company best in August for the distributor.
On the whole, it was a dominating weekend for the Time Warner filmed entertainment family. From three film divisions the company had five pictures in the weekend's top six films, whose combined boxoffice composed a stout 70% of the total for the session's top 12 features. And three of those five films have been sitting in the top spot for the past four consecutive weekends.
The previous weekend's champ, New Line Cinema's Wedding Crashers, continued to defy boxoffice gravity, falling off a scant 18% in its fourth frame and landing in the second spot with an estimated $16.5 million. Helmed by David Dobkin and starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, the R-rated sleeper hit comedy has racked up an impressive tally of about $144.1 million to date.
Warner Bros.' Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was still satisfying a sweet tooth for a sizable portion of patrons. The PG-rated Johnny Depp starrer gleaned an estimated $10.6 million to place third, driving the cume to date for the Tim Burton-directed adventure toward the $200 million mark with an estimated $169 million so far. The distributor's Batman Begins has a cume of $199.1 million and should cross the $200 million mark in the next week.
Buena Vista's Sky High was off a moderate 38% on its second weekend, taking in an estimated $9 million to capture the fourth spot. The PG-rated action comedy aimed at teens and families has generated about $32.1 million after 10 days in release.
On its second weekend Warner Bros.' Must Love Dogs placed fifth with an estimated $7.4 million. The PG-13 romantic comedy, starring John Cusack and Diane Lane, was off 42% from its debut. The modestly budgeted feature from writer-director Gary David Goldberg has grossed an estimated $26.3 million in 10 days.
And waddling into the sixth spot this weekend on its first session in wide release was Warner Independent Pictures' March of the Penguins, which added 1,089 engagements this weekend, taking the tally to 1,867. The G-rated nature documentary grossed an estimated $7.1 million, averaging $3,803 per theater. Co-acquired with National Geographic, with a North American cume of an estimated $26.4 million, "Penguins" is after this weekend the second-highest-grossing non-large-format documentary in history after Lions Gate's Fahrenheit 9/11.
As it took the seventh spot, Sony's Stealth dipped a steep 56% on its sophomore frame, grossing an estimated $5.8 million. The high-priced actioner from director Rob Cohen has a cume of $24.5 million after 10 days in release.
Remarking on the weekend's top film, Dan Fellman, president of distribution for Warner Bros., said, "We're thrilled with the results of Dukes and must congratulate our marketing department for a great campaign and producer Bill Gerber and director Jay Chandrasekhar for a job well done."
Dukes attracted a predominantly young audience, which gave the film high marks, according to exit polls, and the gender split was fairly even, skewing slightly male with 53%. "With a month of summer playtime ahead of us, this young audience will lead the charge for successful boxoffice results," said Fellman. As to where the film played best, he added, " Dukes played well across the country with some exceptional grosses coming from the South."
There were several notable openings in the world of limited releases this weekend. Chief among them was Focus Features' Broken Flowers, the latest from director Jim Jarmusch, which arrived in 27 locations and grossed an estimated $745,394. The film festival fave, an R-rated comedy-drama starring Bill Murray as well as a recognizable ensemble cast, averaged an impressive $27,607 per theater.
Sony Classics' 2046 was likewise off to a strong start, taking in an estimated $112,856 from just four locales. The R-rated sci-fi romantic drama, from director Wong Kar Wai, averaged a robust $28,214 per theater. The distributor's Junebug was in seven sites and picked up an estimated $77,080. The drama averaged a promising $11,011 per theater and has collected about $102,548 since its Wednesday debut.
Miramax's Sequestro Express was in eight locations and generated an estimated $39,467. The Venezuelan drama, from writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz, averaged $4,933 per theater.
IDP's Saint Ralph, from Samuel Goldwyn, counted receipts totaling an estimated $149,450 from 61 houses on its debut. The Michael McGowan-directed drama, about a ninth-grader who ran in the 1954 Boston Marathon, averaged a slow $2,450 per theater.
The second weekend of ThinkFilm's unrated The Aristocrats took in an estimated $252,203 from nine venues, up five from a week ago. The documentary averaged a potent $28,023 per theater and has garnered an estimated $636,873 to date. The film moves into the top 20 markets Friday.
ThinkFilm added 20 sites to the theatrical run for Murderball, taking the total to 95. The exceptionally well-reviewed documentary scored an estimated $219,560 this weekend, taking the cume to date to around $870,178.
The estimated total for this weekend's top 12 films was $102.8 million, up 5% from the comparable weekend a year earlier. The Hollywood Reporter forecasts the total for all films to be in the mid- to high-$110 million range, up slightly from last year's $113 million figure.
For the week ending Aug. 4, the national boxoffice was down a sharp 17% from the comparable seven-day period in 2004 ($200.1 million vs. $240.2 million), with the year-to-date tally down some 8% ($5.39 billion vs. $5.86 billion). Estimated admissions for the year-to-date are likewise down 9% from last year's corresponding period.