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Time to Panic?

June 8th, 2010

Well, that was bad. After the worst Memorial Day long weekend in nearly two decades (at least in terms of tickets sold) we had another weekend full of disappointing new releases. The overall box office was $129 million, which was down 15% from last weekend. Since it is a post-holiday weekend, this drop-off is not surprising. However, it was also down 22% from the same weekend last year, which is the third weekend in a row where we've seen double-digit declines year-over-year. Year-to-date, 2010 is still ahead of 2009, but the lead has shrunk to less than 4% at $4.47 billion to $4.31 billion.

Shrek Forever After remained in first place for the third week in a row, which is not exactly reason to celebrate. Its weekend haul of $25.49 million would only have been enough for third place last year. The film has now made $183.23 million after three weeks of releases, which is also not exactly reason to celebrate. Sure, it will hit $200 million shortly and it might even reach $250 million before it is done, but it could become the lowest grossing entrant in the franchise, and that's before you take into account inflation. And it could have been a lot worse if the competition was stronger.

Get Him to the Greek missed expectations, opening in second place with $17.57 million over the weekend. This is very close to the opening weekend box office of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but even with the upcoming summer vacation and the strong reviews, it likely won't have the same legs. However, it likely didn't cost too much to make and assuming it can do well on the home market, it will eventually show a profit.

Killers was the only new release to top Thursday's predictions, and it was within a rounding error at $15.84 million. Thanks to weaker-than-expected competition, it was also able to earn third place instead of fourth. Meanwhile, its reviews were merely terrible and not "Worst movie of the Year" level, as some had felt they would be after the studio refused to screen it for critics. Granted, all of this feels like a massive dose of "damning it with faint praise", but given the state of the box office at the moment, faint praise is better than no praise.

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time fell a little faster than expected, but it still managed fourth place with $14.02 million over the weekend for a total of $59.62 million after two. Maybe with the holidays coming up, it could eventually get to $100 million, but it might take a push by the studio to get it there.

Sex and the City 2 plummeted more than 60%, crashing from second place to fifth. It added $12.34 million over the weekend, lifting its running tally to $73.13 million. It too could also get to $100 million with some help from the studio, but I'm not sure that would be entirely wise at this point.

A couple new releases missed the top five, starting with Marmaduke. The comic strip adaptation opened in sixth place with $11.60 million and with the worst reviews out of the four wide releases. It will likely have pretty weak legs, even given its younger target demographic. There's very little chance the film will come close to its production budget. This is a movie the studio will want to forget.

The final wide release of the week is Splice, which also missed expectations, earning eighth place with $7.39 million over the weekend. There is some good news, including strong reviews and a relatively low production budget. Assuming it can do relatively well on the home market, it could eventually show a profit. Maybe. Or maybe I'm letting my pro-Canadian bias get the best of me.

One last note. MacGruber saw its theater count evaporate from 2,546 to just 177 while its weekend haul fell by close to 94%. Neither the loss of theaters nor box office were records, but in both cases it was close. Meet Dave saw its theater count fall faster on a raw number basis, while Gigli's declined more percent-wise. Also, Gigli's three day weekend box office decline was also greater. However, for truly wide releases, it is in the bottom five in all three categories.


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