Teacher’s Pet Weak, Godfathers Anime anemic

While Return of the King continued its mind-blowing box office romp and Ben Stiller’s latest farce survived critical barbs to be number one, this weekend’s animated fare had a rough time of it. Disney’s Teachers Pet got some great reviews Friday but tanked with the public on Saturday and Sunday. The TV-based toon took in around $2.4 million on more than 2,000 screens.

The third anime title from filmmaker Satoshi Kon, meanwhile, also rode a wave of strong critical praise to nowhere in particular. On eight screens, Tokyo Godfathers only mustered an estimated $30,000.

Things were much more fun for the Ben Stiller/Jennifer Aniston vehicle Along Came Polly. With less-than-favorable response the Universal release took in just under $28 million, according to estimates. In addition to exceeding expectations, the take represents a record January opening for a comedy.

Meanwhile, New Line’s global phenom The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King finished the weekend in a strong fourth place, adding $10.2 million to its five-week North American total of $328.9 million.

The Tim Burton fantasy Big Fish was the weekend runner-up to Polly, taking in $10.4 million. Warner Bros.’ motorcycle Fast and the Furious knock-off Torque grossed $10.3 million in its debut weekend to cross the finish line third.

Overall, the weakening of the 2003 box office take over 2002 continues in 2004. The past weekend’s total was down 5% from the same weekend last year. Overall, year-to-date, 2004 box office is off 6% from the same period of last year with $292 million in total grosses.