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Will May's Slump Continue into June?

June 3rd, 2010

With May over and not a single wide release beating expectations, the beginning of June can be looked upon with joy or trepidation. On the one hand, maybe we can put May behind us and move on. On the other hand, perhaps the slump will just continue and make matters worse. It is unlikely that any of the new releases will keep up with last year's champion, The Hangover. But perhaps the combined efforts of all four new releases will top the combined efforts of the three wide releases from last year. While there is no likely breakout hit like we had last year, four films have a legitimate shot at top spot.

Shrek Forever After may not have started as fast as the studio would have liked, but at least weaker than expected competition helped it hold on better than most. It is benefiting from being the biggest family film since How to Train Your Dragon and looks to overtake that film shortly. Even with the best case scenario, it would take a couple more weeks to do so after adding about $30 million this weekend. The worst cast scenario has the film suffering from the post-holiday slump at just over $22 million. Depending on how well the competition does, $22 million might be enough to take top spot. I'm going with first place and $25 million over the weekend for a total of over $180 million.

There are two minds when it comes to Marmaduke. Some are comparing it to Garfield and Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Others are comparing it to Furry Vengeance. If the latter group is correct, then the studio is going to have a bad weekend. Even if the film doubles Furry's opening, it will struggle for a spot in the top five. On the other hand, if it opens as well as Garfield or Chihuahua, it could challenge for top spot. Given its early reviews the lower end could be more likely, although I don't think bad reviews will have a huge impact on the film, while it looks like it will be the widest release, which could have a bigger impact. Look for a very close second place with $24 million.

The best-reviewed wide release of the week is Get Him to the Greek at 74% positive. This is more than acceptable for a release such as this, even if it is lower than its predecessor Forgetting Sarah Marshall earned. As for its box office chances, this film has to deal with stiffer competition, but it does have a better release date. Again, it has a shot at top spot with a high end at $25 million or so, but I think third place and just under $20 million is more likely.

Next up is Killers, a movie that the studio thinks is so bad that they have refused to allow critics to publish reviews before Friday. Even so, it still might earn better reviews than Marmaduke will. Unfortunately for the studio, its target audience isn't little kids, so reviews will matter more. The starpower of its two leads will also matter, but that's a mixed bag. Sure, Katherine Heigl is part of a popular show and her past three films have all been hits. But people seem to spend more time talking about personality difficulties than her talent or the quality of the movies she is in. Likewise, Ashton Kutcher has a major following online, but he has not been the lead in a movie that has made $100 million, nor have any of his hits been winners with critics. Perhaps their combined fame will help this film open with over $20 million and give it a shot at top spot, but just over $15 million is more likely.

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and Sex and the City 2 should battle it out for fifth place. Prince has mixed reviews, a post-holiday slump, and more or less direct competition, so its sophomore stint for could be a rough one. Likewise, Sex earned unacceptably bad reviews and has the Sequel Effect and the Fangirl Effect to deal with. Both will likely fall more than 50%, but Prince should come out on top with just under $15 million to just over $14 million.

The final wide release of the week is Splice, which is a relatively small film with a strong Canadian connection. The reviews for this Sci-Fi film started out very well, but they have slumped somewhat, although they are still in the overall positive level. This is important, as with a lot of starpower and with a concept that's a little weird, it will need strong word-of-mouth to thrive. I don't know it if will get it, at least theatrically. I suppose it could surprise and earn more than $15 million to challenge for fourth place (maybe higher if one or more of its competition bombs). However, it could also earn half that. I'm going with $12 million over the weekend and $30 million in total. Not bad given its production budget, but it will need international and / or home market success to break even.

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Filed under: Sex and the City 2, Killers, Splice, Marmaduke, Shrek Forever After, Get Him to the Greek, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time