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Semi-Pro Movie: Will Ferrell Comedy Delivers Amateurish Box Office Performance

Semi-Pro movie Will FerrellSemi-Pro movie with Will Ferrell: Domestic moviegoers’ top choice over sleepy weekend.
  • This past weekend, the Will Ferrell basketball movie Semi-Pro was the no. 1 title at the near-comatose domestic box office. Semi-Pro’s debut looks particularly wobbly when compared to those of Ferrell’s two previous sports comedies.

Box office: Will Ferrell basketball movie Semi-Pro opens far behind Blades of Glory & Talladega Nights

Feb. 29–March 2 weekend box office: Distributed by New Line Cinema, the Will Ferrell basketball comedy Semi-Pro was U.S. and Canadian moviegoers’ top choice, grossing (an estimated) $15.2 million from 3,121 theaters as per studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com. (No final amount has been made available.)

Sounds good or…?

Here’s a little context: The Will Ferrel sports comedies Blades of Glory and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby opened with, respectively, $33 million (March 2007) and $47 million (August 2006).

Something else: Semi-Pro was reportedly budgeted at $55 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses). In other words: It’s an unquestionable box office bomb.

Global dud

On a global scale, the commercial prospects of Semi-Pro are even more dire, as neither Blades of Glory nor Talladega Nights fared at all well at the international box office: Reportedly – and respectively – $27 million and $15 million at the end of their run.

Directed by Kent Alterman, Semi-Pro also features Oscar nominees Woody Harrelson (The People vs. Larry Flynt, 1996) and Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, 2006), in addition to Maura Tierney, Will Arnett, André Benjamin, and cameos by the likes of Jason Sudeikis, Kristen Wiig, Patti LaBelle, and Ed Helms.

Update: Will Ferrell’s Semi-Pro ultimately collected a mediocre $33.5 million domestically and a measly (though likely incomplete) $10.5 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $44 million – making the basketball comedy a global box office dud.

Its top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($4.2 million) and Australia ($3.9 million).

Political action thriller Vantage Point performs better than expected internationally

Trailing Semi-Pro at no. 2 was last weekend’s champ, Sony Pictures’ Pete Travis-directed Vantage Point, which took in $12.8 million (down 44 percent). The political action thriller thus lifted its 10-day domestic cume to $40.8 million – a no-more-than-acceptable figure for a $40 million release.

Revolving around a series of chronicles – from distinct vantage points – about the assassination attempt of a fictional U.S. president, Vantage Point stars Dennis Quaid alongside Matthew Fox, Édgar Ramírez, Ayelet Zurer, Eduardo Noriega, Best Actor Oscar winners Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland, 2006) and William Hurt (Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1985), and three-time nominee Sigourney Weaver (Aliens, 1986; etc.).

Update: Pete Travis’ thriller Vantage Point ultimately collected a passable $72.3 million domestically and a better-than-expected (for a non-sequel with no box office draws/awards season buzz) $79.8 million internationally, for a profitable worldwide total of $152.1 million.

Its top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($11.6 million), Japan ($8.1 million), South Korea ($7 million), Spain ($6.7 million), and Germany ($6.5 million).

The Spiderwick Chronicles Freddie Highmore Sarah BolgerThe Spiderwick Chronicles with Freddie Highmore and Sarah Bolger.

The Spiderwick Chronicles is a major money-loser

At no. 3, Mark Waters’ fantasy adventure The Spiderwick Chronicles brought in $8.7 million (down 34 percent) on its third weekend out. Based on the book series by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, the Paramount release reached a cume of $55 million – a less-than-stellar figure for a $90 million production.

In the cast: Finding Neverland actor Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, Mary-Louise Parker, Andrew McCarthy, and Oscar nominees David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck., 2005) and Joan Plowright (Enchanted April, 1992).

In the voice cast: Martin Short, Ron Perlman, Seth Rogen, and two-time Oscar nominee Nick Nolte (The Prince of Tides, 1991; Affliction, 1998).

Update: Mark Waters’ The Spiderwick Chronicles turned out to be a major money-loser at the box office, ultimately collecting $71.2 million domestically and $93 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $164.2 million.

Its top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($20.9 million), Australia ($7.4 million), Mexico ($6.6 million), France ($6.2 million), Japan ($6.1 million), and Spain ($5.5 million).

Natalie Portman-Scarlett Johansson historical drama The Other Boleyn Girl fails to recover its cost

Lastly, Sony Pictures’ The Other Boleyn Girl debuted in fourth place this past weekend, raking in $8.2 million from 1,166 venues – an underwhelming figure even for a relatively modest $35 million production.

Directed by Justin Chadwick and starring Oscar nominee Natalie Portman (Closer, 2004), Scarlett Johansson, and Eric Bana, this fictionalized historical drama based on Philippa Gregory’s 2001 novel tells the story of sisters Mary Boleyn (Johansson) and Anne Boleyn (Portman) – the former, the mistress of King Henry VIII (Bana); the latter, one of the English monarch’s many wives.

Also in the cast of The Other Boleyn Girl: Oscar nominee Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient, 1996), Mark Rylance, Jim Sturgess, David Morrissey, Oliver Coleman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ana Torrent, Eddie Redmayne, Juno Temple, and Andrew Garfield.

Update: The Other Boleyn Girl ultimately collected a mediocre $26.8 million domestically and a far better (though still disappointing) $51.4 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $78.2 million – not enough to make the Natalie Portman-Scarlett Johansson historical drama profitable at the box office.

Its top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($9.7 million), Spain ($5.9 million), and South Korea ($4.7 million).


Semi-Pro Movie: Will Ferrell Comedy” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “Semi-Pro Movie: Will Ferrell Comedy Delivers Amateurish Box Office Performance” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).

Comments about Semi-Pro, Vantage Point, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Other Boleyn Girl, and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Will Ferrell Semi-Pro movie image: New Line Cinema.

Sarah Bolger and Freddie Highmore The Spiderwick Chronicles movie image: Paramount Pictures.

Semi-Pro Movie: Will Ferrell Comedy Delivers Amateurish Box Office Performance” last updated in October 2022.

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