Through the years, early May has evolved into the start of the summer movie season, even though the actual summer doesn't begin for another month and a half. This year is no exception with the release of Iron Man 2, which follows in the footsteps of the first Iron Man, Spider-Man and Spider-Man 3 among past early May/summer kick-offs.
While early May had seen huge numbers before 2005, this weekend was anemic as far as summer starts go. Director Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven was the would-be event picture, being a historical epic positioned to repeat Scott's Gladiator success in 2000. But its Medieval subject matter was less appealing and its marketing less focused than Gladiator, leading to a relatively modest $19.6 million debut at 3,216 theaters. Additionally, few cared enough to see Paris Hilton get slaughtered in House of Wax, the weekend's other major release that opened to $12.1 million at 3,111 sites. Meanwhile, Crash began with $9.1 million at 1,864 locations, and, despite making less out of the gate, it would ultimately gross more than Kingdom of Heaven and House of Wax. • Weekend Report: 'Kingdom' of Limbo, 'House' of Lax
Gladiator resurrected the sword-and-sandal epic, which had been dormant for decades, by raking in $34.8 million at 2,938 venues. The opening was the culmination of a massive marketing campaign that concisely and dramatically presented a universal tale of revenge and fighting against the odds and even included a Super Bowl ad that equated the gladiators with modern-day football players. The weekend's only other nationwide release, I Dreamed of Africa, drew a puny $2.4 million at 2,112 sites. • Weekend Chart
In 1995 and earlier years, the first weekend of May was not considered the start of the summer, and the movies released showed this. Meg Ryan-Kevin Kline romantic comedy French Kiss floundered a bit with a $9 million debut at 1,721 venues, while While You Were Sleeping was close behind with $8.5 million, down only 19 percent in its third weekend. Also opening, Panther made a modest $2.35 million at 713 sites, and My Family took in $2.16 million at 413 sites. • Weekend Chart
The new releases were action-packed, but they didn't generate a lot of box office action. Topping the chart, Chuck Norris' Code of Silence kicked off with $5.5 million at 1,810 locations, which was one of Norris' bigger starts. Meanwhile, Anthony Edwards-Linda Fiorentino spy movie Gotcha! opened with $2.4 million at 1,218 sites, and gymnastics-karate hybrid Gymkata began with $1.26 million at 654 sites. Meanwhile, the Johnny Depp-Rob Morrow sex comedy Private Resort bagged just $163,704 in its debut at 102 locations. •Weekend Chart
Weekend Number / Date Matching
Another way of looking back at the box office is to check out the years when the dates and weekend numbers were aligned. 2004, 1999, 1993 and 1982 are the previous recent years that weekend 19 landed on May 7-9. In 2004 and 1999, two horror-themed adventures from director Stephen Sommers struck: Van Helsing ($51.7 million) in 2004 and The Mummy ($43.4 million) in 1999. In 1993, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story ($10 million) and Dave ($7.3 million) opened in first and second, respectively, while in 1982, Porky's held the top spot for the eighth weekend in a row.