February 14, 2006

Sony pretty in “Pink” at top; “Destination” speeds to 2nd

By Brian Fuson

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Four new wide releases
finished pretty much where they were expected to this past
weekend, grabbing the top four slots at the boxoffice and
leading the frame to better last year's comparable session by a
whisker. Record snowstorms in the northeast had a bigger impact
than anticipated as early projections were trimmed yet again
when the actual grosses trickled in.

The total boxoffice for the 110 films tracked by The
Hollywood Reporter was $120.7 million, up a relatively scant
$800,000 from the comparable weekend in 2005. Sony's "Hitch"
was the top film last year at this time, generating a robust
$43.1 million. Industry observers noted that the fierce winter
storms shaved millions of dollars off the boxoffice overall
this past weekend.

Sony's "The Pink Panther" took the spotlight at the
boxoffice this past weekend as the return of the famed French
Inspector Clouseau to the big screen generated $20.2 million.
The MGM production, starring Steve Martin in the role made
famous by Peter Sellers, was in 3,477 theaters and was the
widest new release of the weekend. It was the third time this
year that Sony had a film open in the top spot.

The Shawn Levy-directed "Panther," which carried a
family-friendly PG rating, scored a moderate 84 percent
positive grade from moviegoers, according to CinemaScore. The
comedy appealed to a wide demographic, with males and females
in nearly equal numbers, 36 percent under the age of 18, and
double-digit percentages in each remaining age quadrant.


New Line Cinema's "Final Destination 3" caught up with a
solid $19.2 million and took a ride in the second spot on its
theatrical debut. The R-rated horror film from director James
Wong had the best opening gross of the franchise to date.

But like "Panther," exit poll scores were moderate.
"Destination 3" received a favorable grade from 85 percent of
moviegoers, according to CinemaScore. Ryan Merriman and Mary
Elizabeth Winstead star in the film, which skewed slightly male
and young, with 60 percent in the under-25 age group. Horror
fans and fans of the franchise proved to be the driving force
behind the film's opening weekend.

"Curious George" from Universal swung into the third spot
with $14.7 million. The Imagine Entertainment-produced family
comedy did slightly better than expected and the G-rated film
had the highest exit poll score of this past weekend's four new
wide releases. A sterling 94 percent of moviegoers gave the 2-D
animated "George" a favorable nod, according to CinemaScore.

Matthew O'Callaghan directed the screen adaptation of the
famed monkey named George who's been around since 1941. Will
Ferrell and Drew Barrymore lent their voices to the film.

Warner Bros. Pictures' "Firewall" grossed $13.6 million and
claimed the fourth slot on its debut. The opening for the
Harrison Ford starrer was disappointing considering the film's
A-list star, but was better than his previous two outings. The
PG-13-rated action-thriller, helmed by Richard Loncraine,
scored a respectable 90 percent positive reaction from
moviegoers, according to CinemaScore.

The previous weekend's boxoffice champ, Screen Gems' "When
a Stranger Calls," was in the fifth spot with $9.1 million,
slipping 58 percent in its sophomore frame, taking a big hit,
no doubt, from "Destination 3." "Stranger" has dialed into $34
million in 10 days.

Paramount Classics' "Neil Young: Heart of Gold" debuted in
four locations and took in $53,908. The music documentary,
directed by Jonathan Demme, averaged a stout $13,477 per

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter