Brangelina may or may not be an item, but they sure know how to make sparks at the box office.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the onscreen coupling of tabloid-hogging tandem Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as married assassins gunning for each other, made a killing over the weekend, beating all projections with a three-day gross of $50.3 million, according to studio tallie released Monday.
"Wow! What a start!" exclaimed Fox's distribution chief Bruce Snyder, who had thought the movie would score strongly in the mid to high $40 million range. The film should easily recoup its reported $110 million production cost.
The opening for Mr. and Mrs. Smith scored personal bests for both its glamorous stars, whose are-they-or-aren't-they exploits have played out in the glossies and gossip pages. Pitt's previous record came with Troy's $46.8 million debut last year; Jolie broke the $47.7 million first weekend for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001.
Directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Swingers), the PG-13 release unspooled in 3,424 sites and averaged a walloping $14,703 per site. Snyder said the movie played strongly to all demographics--male and female, over and under 25--with that "good-time feeling."
But those good times weren't felt by everyone. Overall business was down from last year for the 16th straight weekend.
The other major new studio releases, The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl in 3-D and the big-screen update of The Honeymooners, struggled. Shark Boy debuted in fifth with $12.6 million, while the latter-day Kramden-Norton goofing only mustered $5.5 million in eighth.
Miramax's PG-rated Shark Boy, dreamed up by director Robert Rodriguez (with an assist from his kid) for a family audience, averaged $4,739 at 2,655 sites and failed to siphon off much of the audience from DreamWorks' Madagascar. The zoo 'toon, which topped the box office last week, continued to draw big crowds. It was down only 39 percent to finish in second place with $17.2 million, bringing its three-week gross to $128.4 million.
Star Wars: Episode III--Revenge of the Sith held strong in third place, dropping just 41 percent to tally $14.9 million. Its four-week take is a galactic $332.1 million. Also showing some staying power: Paramount's Adam Sandler-powered remake of The Longest Yard, which fell 47 percent and two places to fourth, earning $13.9 million for a three-week touchdown of $118.5 million.
While Brad and Angelina's offscreen headlines turned into serious box office, Russell Crowe has failed to do the same. Just days after his arrest in New York for playing telephone tag with a hotel clerk's face, his Cinderella Man had turned into a box-office pumpkin. Despite some excellent reviews, the Ron Howard-helmed pugilism picture is on the ropes and likely headed for a TKO, dropping 48 percent from its disappointing fourth-place opening last week to just $9.7 million in sixth place this weekend, averaging $3,450 at 2,820 theaters. Although Universal says it still "believed" in the film, it has only grossed $34.6 million, and it remains unclear what strategy the studio will employ to keep the movie's visibility high enough to be remembered come Oscar time.
Still, Cinderella Man was lights-out compared to The Honeymooners. With Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps trying to channel Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, the PG-13 Paramount modernization of the classic sitcom averaged just $2,897 at 1,912 sites.
And checking in at number 10 was the Lions Gate R-rated French horror import, High Tension. The Gallic take on the "college kids in peril in secluded house" theme opened with $1.9 million from 1,323 sites.
In limited release, Buena Vista's latest PG-rated release, Howl's Moving Castle, did spectacular business. The spellbinding anime masterpiece from Japan's Oscar-winning Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away), featuring the voices of Emily Mortimer and Jean Simmons, averaged $11,889 per 36 sites for $427,987.
Another French import, ThinkFilm's 5X2, a look backward at a troubled marriage, grossed $15,667 at just two sites for a per-screen average of $7,834. Fine Line's The Bridge of San Luis Rey, based on Thornton Wilder's novel about five people who die in a disaster, with a cast that includes F. Murray Abraham, Robert De Niro and Kathy Bates, grossed $21,281 from an average of $3,457 at six sites.
The top 12 movies grossed $138 million, down 10 percent from the $153.4 million this time last year when Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban lead the way. But there was a glimmer of hope: Overall business was up about 9 percent from last week, and another potential blockbuster, Batman Begins, hits screens next week.
Here's a rundown of the top 10 films, based on figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, $50.3 million
2. Madagascar, $17.2 million
3. Star Wars: Episode III--Revenge of the Sith, $14.9 million
4. The Longest Yard, $13.9 million
5. The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl, $12.6 million
6. Cinderella Man, $9.7 million
7. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, $5.7 million
8. The Honeymooners, $5.5 million
9. Monster-in-Law, $2.6 million
10. High Tension, $1.9 million
(Originally published June 12, 2005 at 2:15 p.m. PT.)