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It's the first long weekend of the summer; at least it is up here in Canada. What effect will this have on the box office? Not a whole lot, but Canada does represent about 10% of the total domestic box office and every little bit will help. This time last year saw the debut of two box office hits and we only have Shrek Forever After this time around. Granted, even the low end estimates have the pseudo-final chapter in the Shrek franchise crushing either Night at the Museum or Terminator, individually. The question is, can it top their combined opening? It might need to if 2010 is to keep pace with 2009.

Shrek Forever After is reportedly the final chapter in the Shrek franchise, not counting the Puss in Boots spin-off coming out next year. The franchise began in 2001 with Shrek, which stunned box office analysts and for good reasons. It's reviews were amazing and it even managed to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature (Monsters, Inc. was robbed). Shrek 2 was almost as good, and proved to be a much more profitable movie, becoming the highest grossing animated film of all time. Shrek the Third had the biggest opening for an animated film, but its reviews were mixed and it quickly saw its box office numbers shrink. Now that we've come to the fourth and final film, a lot of people are wondering if it will continue the downward slide, or if it will be as good as the first two were. The answer appears to be neither, or more precisely, somewhere in-between.

According to its Tomatometer Score, Shrek Forever After is better than the previous installment, but not by a huge amount. In fact, despite improving on its early reviews, its score is still below the 50% mark. As for its box office chances, the studio is trying to keep expectations on the low side, predicting the movie will make $80 million or so. Analysts expect it to pull in between $90 million and $95 million. If it can top high-end expectations, then it will be able to surpass the figures brought in by last year's two bigger opening films. It might come close. Look for an opening of $95 million over the weekend while hitting $300 million in total.

After two weeks on top, Iron Man 2 will be pushed into second place with about $25 million over the weekend. That would push its total to about $250 million and put it on pace to $300 million. This means it will not match the original domestically, but thanks to its international run, it should show growth worldwide.

It was reported last week that Robin Hood cost $237 million to make. Universal immediately disputed that number, saying that with tax incentives it only cost $155 million. For the studio's sake, hopefully the lower number is more accurate, as it could drop by as much as 60% during its sophomore stint. That would leave the film with just $14 million over the weekend. Even the high-end expectations have it falling 50% to $18 million. Split the difference and we get just over $16 million over the weekend and just under $64 million after two. $100 million in total is still possible, if the studio gives it a little push.

The only other wide release of the week is MacGruber, which is the first SNL movie in a long, long time. Given how bad those film fell from their peak with Wayne's World, this is not surprising. Amazingly, despite the fact that the skit the film is based on is basically one joke, the reviews are much better than expected and among the best for a wide release this year. Granted, it only has 18 reviews so far, so it could fall significantly over the weekend and more critics see the film. Or it could pop back over the 80% level and compete with Blues Brothers and Wayne's World for the best film SNL has spawned. Its potential at the box office is not quite as rosy and most analysts think it will have to settle for fourth place with about $12 million. After all, there's a lot of bad blood that this film has to overcome. Anyone burned by The Ladies Man, Superstar, It's Pat, etc. might not give this film a chance. Also, it is a spoof and the duo of Friedberg and Seltzer have tried their hardest to kill that genre (and done a good job). On the other hand, it could surprise and grab third place with close to $20 million to become a surprise hit. I'm going with $15 million, which is a little more bullish than most, but I think the trailers are effective enough to overcome the obstacles.

Letters to Juliet should round out the top five, mostly by default. It should hold on relatively well and earn about $8 million over the weekend for a total of $27 million after two. This puts it on pace to earn between $40 million and $50 million, which is enough to be a mid-level hit. And if it can perform respectably internationally, it will earn a profit during its initial push on the home market.

- C.S.Strowbridge Weekend Preview: The Beginning of the End for Shrek - The Numbers

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Weekend Preview: The Beginning of the End for Shrek

May 20th, 2010

It's the first long weekend of the summer; at least it is up here in Canada. What effect will this have on the box office? Not a whole lot, but Canada does represent about 10% of the total domestic box office and every little bit will help. This time last year saw the debut of two box office hits and we only have Shrek Forever After this time around. Granted, even the low end estimates have the pseudo-final chapter in the Shrek franchise crushing either Night at the Museum or Terminator, individually. The question is, can it top their combined opening? It might need to if 2010 is to keep pace with 2009.

Shrek Forever After is reportedly the final chapter in the Shrek franchise, not counting the Puss in Boots spin-off coming out next year. The franchise began in 2001 with Shrek, which stunned box office analysts and for good reasons. It's reviews were amazing and it even managed to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature (Monsters, Inc. was robbed). Shrek 2 was almost as good, and proved to be a much more profitable movie, becoming the highest grossing animated film of all time. Shrek the Third had the biggest opening for an animated film, but its reviews were mixed and it quickly saw its box office numbers shrink. Now that we've come to the fourth and final film, a lot of people are wondering if it will continue the downward slide, or if it will be as good as the first two were. The answer appears to be neither, or more precisely, somewhere in-between.

According to its Tomatometer Score, Shrek Forever After is better than the previous installment, but not by a huge amount. In fact, despite improving on its early reviews, its score is still below the 50% mark. As for its box office chances, the studio is trying to keep expectations on the low side, predicting the movie will make $80 million or so. Analysts expect it to pull in between $90 million and $95 million. If it can top high-end expectations, then it will be able to surpass the figures brought in by last year's two bigger opening films. It might come close. Look for an opening of $95 million over the weekend while hitting $300 million in total.

After two weeks on top, Iron Man 2 will be pushed into second place with about $25 million over the weekend. That would push its total to about $250 million and put it on pace to $300 million. This means it will not match the original domestically, but thanks to its international run, it should show growth worldwide.

It was reported last week that Robin Hood cost $237 million to make. Universal immediately disputed that number, saying that with tax incentives it only cost $155 million. For the studio's sake, hopefully the lower number is more accurate, as it could drop by as much as 60% during its sophomore stint. That would leave the film with just $14 million over the weekend. Even the high-end expectations have it falling 50% to $18 million. Split the difference and we get just over $16 million over the weekend and just under $64 million after two. $100 million in total is still possible, if the studio gives it a little push.

The only other wide release of the week is MacGruber, which is the first SNL movie in a long, long time. Given how bad those film fell from their peak with Wayne's World, this is not surprising. Amazingly, despite the fact that the skit the film is based on is basically one joke, the reviews are much better than expected and among the best for a wide release this year. Granted, it only has 18 reviews so far, so it could fall significantly over the weekend and more critics see the film. Or it could pop back over the 80% level and compete with Blues Brothers and Wayne's World for the best film SNL has spawned. Its potential at the box office is not quite as rosy and most analysts think it will have to settle for fourth place with about $12 million. After all, there's a lot of bad blood that this film has to overcome. Anyone burned by The Ladies Man, Superstar, It's Pat, etc. might not give this film a chance. Also, it is a spoof and the duo of Friedberg and Seltzer have tried their hardest to kill that genre (and done a good job). On the other hand, it could surprise and grab third place with close to $20 million to become a surprise hit. I'm going with $15 million, which is a little more bullish than most, but I think the trailers are effective enough to overcome the obstacles.

Letters to Juliet should round out the top five, mostly by default. It should hold on relatively well and earn about $8 million over the weekend for a total of $27 million after two. This puts it on pace to earn between $40 million and $50 million, which is enough to be a mid-level hit. And if it can perform respectably internationally, it will earn a profit during its initial push on the home market.

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Filed under: MacGruber, Shrek Forever After, Letters to Juliet, Robin Hood, Iron Man 2