Joshua Rich's weekend box office wrap-up: After all the hoopla, ''Snakes on a Plane'' slithers in way below expectations
Credit: Snakes on a Plane: James Dittiger

According to Sunday’s estimates, Snakes on a Plane has earned $15.3 million and it opened at No. 1 by the skin of its teeth, er, scales of its fangs… Oh, but wait, did it? No! Because $1.4 mil of that total came from Thursday-night screenings. Therefore, the movie’s Friday-to-Sunday number is a mere $13.9 mil, and that puts it at No. 2 for the weekend, behind Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which earned $14.1 mil. Shocker! Okay, now I’ve had it with these mother@#*!$ing snakes! I’m breathless. I haven’t felt this woozy since the last time I was attacked by a Burmese python.

The fact that SOAP came in below even the most ridiculously cynical predictions is an Anaconda-size surprise. Clearly, estimates that the movie was going to earn upwards of $20 million or $30 million were hugely inflated because of all that mother@#*!$ing Internet hoopla. Amid the noise, a few key facts were ignored: (1) The schlock-horror movie was aimed toward young men, who, we’ve seen time and time again, are the least reliable moviegoers around; (2) SOAP had an audience-limiting R rating, which probably prevented a lot of those young men from seeing it anyway; (3) competitors like Accepted and Material Girls stole even more of that under-25 crowd; and (4) if its B- CinemaScore rating is any indication, SOAP simply is not a very good film, and audiences didn’t like it enough to tell their friends to go see it. To be fair, SOAP didn’t cost New Line very much (about $30 mil), and if you forget about all the pre-release hyperventilating, it did okay (not great, but okay). Still, Samuel L. Jackson has had stronger openings with many other pretty forgettable features: Coach Carter, Changing Lanes, Rules of Engagement, Deep Blue Sea, even Sphere. And among R-rated horror flicks this year, SOAP‘s bow ranks behind those of The Omen, Hostel, The Hills Have Eyes, Silent Hill, and, ahem, Final Destination 3. In other words, pretty much everything. So, yeah, this is bad, bad, bad. I’m getting depresssssssssed. Let’s move on.

Props to TN:TBORB for winning its third consecutive weekend — Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is the only other 2006 release to do that — and, more importantly, for passing the $100 mil mark. World Trade Center held strong at No. 3, dropping just 42 percent to earn $10.8 mil in its second weekend. Accepted came in at No. 4, with $10.1 mil; the critically slammed comedy earned a strong A- CinemaScore review from audiences. Last week’s big surprise, Step Up, rounded out the top 5, with $9.9 mil, a predictable 52 percent decline. Little Miss Sunshine (No. 7) expanded to 691 theaters and entered the top 10, with $5.7 mil. And Hilary Duff’s Material Girls was a nonfactor, opening at No. 9 with $4.6 mil.

The Yari Film Group’s Edward Norton period piece, The Illusionist, led the weekend’s smaller debuts, with a $18,137 average in 51 locations, while IFC’s Factotum averaged $10,133 in 10 theaters, and Fox Searchlight’s Trust the Man underperformed, with a $4,631 average in 38 venues.

Boy! So much gloom and doom. To be sure, overall, this weekend was down 7.5 percent from the same period a year ago, says Paul at Exhibitor Relations. And yet, despite all of that, there is some light: After 45 days, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest passed the mother@#*!$ing $400 mil mark.

World Trade Center
  • Movie
  • 129 minutes