At movies, variety sells
Film up $611 million in record October
Led by a couple of violent movies, a horror-film spoof and a
comedy about a rock music-loving teacher, the nation's multiplexes
surged in a record October with box-office receipts topping $600
million, according to figures released Monday by Exhibitor Relations
Although it lacked a single dominant blockbuster, the month had
grosses that reached an all-time October high of $611 million on the
strength of several surprisingly strong performers, including
"Scary Movie 3," "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "School of
Rock" and "Kill Bill Vol. 1." Each has grossed more than $60
million to date and is still going strong.
The totals represented a 9 percent increase over the previous
October record of $560 million, set last year when "Sweet Home
Alabama," "The Ring" and "Red Dragon" dominated.
"This was a great October," said Exhibitor Relations President
Paul Dergarabedian. "Normally, October is not known as a big month
but a transition time preceding the big holiday period. But this
year in particular, everything came together."
"Scary Movie 3" gave the month's receipts a major boost when it
opened with a stunning three-day gross of $48.1 million, by far the
biggest October opening in history.
"The interesting thing about the month is that you had one movie
after another averaging over $20 million on opening weekend," said
Brandon Gray, editor of the Web site Box Office Mojo. "Generally
speaking, only one or two do that. Here it was a new number one
every weekend, just like in summer."
Other October releases remaining in the top 10 with solid medium
numbers include "Radio," "Mystic River,"and "Runaway Jury,"
all of which dropped less than 30 percent from the weekend before.
Meanwhile, several movies quietly rang up respectable grosses
during the month, including the Diane Lane film "Under the Tuscan
Sun" ($39.8 million) and the Robert Duvall-Michael Caine pairing
"Secondhand Lions" ($40.9 million).
One of the surprise hits of the month was MGM's "Good Boy!"
which has grossed $35.2 million to date and cost about half that to
make. It had the advantage of being the only family film in the
marketplace until Saturday's release of Disney's animated "Brother
Bear," which earned a stellar $19.8 million in its first two days.
"The films that were playing in October were just of particular
interest to moviegoers across the board," Dergarabedian said. "If
you wanted intense violent films, October was your month, but if you
wanted comedy, then you had that option as well. It was a
smorgasbord of movies."
The spreading of box-office wealth resulted in fewer outright
bombs, although the Angelina Jolie drama "Beyond Borders" has
tanked with a two-week gross of just $3.8 million.
Two other films that had modest box-office success but ultimately
underperformed considering their movie-star pedigrees were
"Intolerable Cruelty," starring George Clooney and Catherine
Zeta-Jones ($31.8 million), and the Denzel Washington thriller "Out
of Time" ($39.3 million).
"It wasn't necessarily about star power this month,"
Dergarabedian said. "The movies that did the best didn't
necessarily have big stars in them. A lot of it had to do with
Greg Hernandez, (818)