Sex Sells, Indy Stable At Box-Office

‘Sex sells’ proved a very accurate statement this weekend as the “Sex and the City” movie rang up an estimated $55.7 million weekend tally – far exceeding estimates.

Whilst there had been mild anticipation for the film all year, in the last two weeks the buzz has been growing exponentially every day for the movie which solidified into a must-see event – despite very mixed reviews. More importantly it got older women, the most difficult of all demographics to entice to the cinema, to come out in droves.

The film literally scored an opening weekend any major FX-fueled tentpole would be proud to have, let alone a romantic comedy. Estimates put it at the third highest opening of the year and 53rd highest overall – between the first “Fantastic Four” and the Grinch movie. In terms of its genre it’s the highest opening rom-com ever, far ahead of “Hitch” with $43 million.

Unfortunately the numbers also show that the audience are as fickle as the film’s characters with the love for the film proving to be a one-night stand. Friday was incredible business with a massive $25 million opening day. The film fell fast on the weekend though – dropping 33% on Saturday and a further 23% on Sunday. In spite of its success, it certainly doesn’t look to have the long-run legs of a “Devil Wears Prada” style sleeper hit.

Despite huge fanboy and online geek backlash, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” held relatively steady in its second weekend. Disappointing business on Friday ($12m) was balanced by a surge on Saturday ($19m) with the drop-off expected to be around 54% for the weekend. In comparison well-received May openers like “Iron Man” & “Spider-Man 2” fell 48% in their second weekend, whilst generally panned ones like “The Matrix Reloaded” and the third entries in the ‘Pirates’, ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘X-Men’ franchises all fell 60% or more.

Indy currently stands at a $216 million total domestic and a further $146 million worldwide – pushing it ahead of ‘Raiders’ as the highest earner of the franchise. Adjusted for inflationm the previous two Indy sequels scored $360m & $339m respectively – numbers which ‘Skull’ may get near but certainly won’t top.

A big surprise was the Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman horror film “The Strangers”. Purchased by Rogue Pictures a while ago, the $9 million-budgeted home invasion horror thriller was destined for direct-to-DVD status (it was originally scheduled for release May last year). Earlier this year Rogue decided to give it a shot as a piece of theatrical counter-programming to ‘Sex’ in the hopes it would open with a few million despite generally negative reviews.

In its opening weekend, the film has managed to earn its budget back more than twice over with a $20.7 million haul and a solid $8,393 per screen average. Little change otherwise amongst the other players, “Iron Man” continues to hold steady (dropping just 31% in its fifth week) and looks pretty certain to beat out Indy when the final 2008 numbers are counted.