”Chick flick” was the name of the game in theaters this Super Bowl weekend as ”The Wedding Planner” topped the box office with an estimated $13.5 million in earnings. Analysts say distributor Columbia Pictures’ decision to open the female targeted Jennifer Lopez/ Matthew McConaughey romance this weekend was a clever move of football counterprogramming. ”Women tend to head to the movies during the festivities surrounding the big game,” Robert Bucksbaum, head of tracking firm Reel Source, tells EW.com.
Moreover, the $28 million budgeted film comes on the heels of Lopez’s latest musical effort ”J. Lo,” whose first single ”Love Don’t Cost a Thing” is currently No. 4 on the Billboard charts. The publicity blitz surrounding the film and last week’s album release has turned Lopez into a cross media queen who rivals some of our best known celebs. ”Even Madonna doesn’t earn as much as Lopez at the box office,” notes Bucksbaum. Expect Lopez to have the No. 1 album — to go along with her No. 1 movie — when Soundscan releases its sales figures later this week.
”Planner” knocked the girl friendly ”Save the Last Dance” (No. 2; $9.8 million) off its two week roost atop the movie chart. But the Julia Stiles hip-hop movie has certainly proven once again that little films for the under 24 crowd can bring big fiscal rewards. The $13 million budgeted feature has thus far earned $56.9 million, and its soundtrack leaped to No. 3 on the music charts. Meanwhile, Tom Hanks’ ”Cast Away” (No. 3; $8.1 million) continues to lure audiences. The man and volleyball flick is likely to sail past the $200 million mark this week. Steven Soderbergh’s ”Traffic” (No. 4; $6.5 million) and another female aimed newcomer ”Sugar & Spice” (No. 5; $5.9 million) rounded out the weekend’s top five.
CRITICAL MASS Lopez’s latest flick has the momentum of a No. 1 debut. However, if EW.com’s readers are correct, ”The Wedding Planner” lacks something ”Save the Last Dance” has: positive word of mouth. It’s not just star power that made the Stiles teen romance a hit — it’s also the ecstatic schoolyard conversations that followed the film’s debut. Overall, 67 percent of readers said they would recommend ”Dance” to others, while nearly half indicated that they would gladly return to theaters to see the film again.
Compare ”Dance”’s numbers to those of this week’s box office champ. J. Lo’s ”Planner” earned a solid grade of B overall from EW.com’s readers. (Critics have yet to weigh in.) However, less than half said they would recommend the romance to friends, and only 23 percent said they would go back to the theater to see the movie again. Guess they’d prefer to stay home and listen to Lopez’s album.