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Will Twilight Liberate the Record Book?

July 1st, 2010

Yesterday was the first of July, Canada Day! It was also the start of the CFL season. ... Oh yeah, and apparently there's a holiday in the United States. On a serious note, the Independence Day long weekend is usually the second most lucrative weekend of the year (only the Memorial Day long weekend tops it). The Twilight Saga: Eclipse will dominate the box office having already set a few records, while it isn't the only film that should pull in big bucks over the next four days. The overall box office should top last year's totals, even with the front-loaded nature of the top film.

We've already discussed Eclipse's box office potential, but now that Wednesday's numbers are in, we can add another couple of records to the list, but there are also some troubling signs. After earning $30 million during its midnight showings, the film finished with $68.53 million during the full day. This was the record for a Wednesday, plus the record for best single day in June. However, while it topped New Moon's midnight total by nearly $4 million, it fell short of its opening day total by more than $4 million. That could be a sign that the film will be even more front-loaded than previously anticipated, despite the better than expected reviews. On the low end, it could fall 60% on Thursday, and that's 60% down from the non-midnight number, leaving it with about $15 million for the day. Over the weekend it would then add close to $60 million, plus another $10 million on Monday for a six-day total of $150 million. It would likely not make that much more during the rest of its run. That's on the low end. More realistically, it will add about $22 million on Thursday, $70 million over the weekend, and $12.5 million on Monday for a total of $172 million. Depending on how much the studio spent on advertising and how large of a share they get from ticket sales, this might already be enough to show a profit.

On the other hand, The Last Airbender is a frightfully expensive movie and its box office potential is not as bright. Granted, it is based on a popular TV show that has a loyal and rabid fanbase. It is also directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who also has a fanbase that at one time could have been described as loyal and / or rabid, but recent misses have eroded that base. Airbender was thought by some to be his return to box office glory, but the reviews strongly suggest that won't be the case. Not only are the vast majority of the film's reviews negative, they are enthusiastically negative with many critics calling it the worst movie of the summer. That said, it still has a lot of buzz, both negative and positive and for one weekend it should be a hit. In fact, its midnight showings brought in $3 million on Wednesday, which is the best for a non-sequel this summer. Look for just over $10 million tonight, close to $40 million over the weekend and close to $10 million on Monday for a $60 million start. It might have trouble making that much during the rest of its run, if moviegoers hate it as much as critics do.

After two weeks on top, Toy Story 3 will be pushed to third place this weekend, at least over the three-day portion. The family friendly nature of the movie, plus its 99% positive reviews should give it better legs as the weekend continues and it might climb to second place on Monday. The film has already topped $250 million domestically, making it the highest grossing installment in the franchise, sort of. (The issue is complicated by the double-bill 3D release last year.) With about $260 million after Thursday, the film should add just over $30 million over the weekend and $10 million on Monday, giving it over $300 million in just 17 days, and making it only the second Pixar film to reach that milestone. (It took Finding Nemo 51 days to get there.) It won't be long before it overtakes Alice in Wonderland for biggest hit of the year, while $400 million is still the goal for the film.

There's good news for Grown Ups, as none of the new releases are direct competition for the film. Bad news, its reviews are terrible, even for an Adam Sandler film. That said, it is already more than halfway to the century mark and the holiday should help it get a lot closer. Look for $20 million over the three-day portion of the weekend and $25 million over the four-day portion. This will lift its total to over $80 million after just two weeks of release and put it on track to hit $100 million after three.

Knight and Day should round out the top five with just under $10 million from Friday to Sunday and just over $12 million including Monday. With less than $50 million after two weeks, it's on pace to miss Valkyrie's box office result, and that film was hardly a box office juggernaut to begin with.


Filed under: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Grown Ups, Toy Story 3, Knight and Day