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Inception, one of the most anticipated films of the summer, hits theaters this weekend, which should help the box office keep up its torrid pace of the past few weeks. It will need to, because this time last year saw the release of The Half-Blood Prince, which was one of the most anticipated films of last summer. Inception likely won't top Half-Blood Prince at the box office, though it could come close. But combined with the other wide release and holdovers, 2010 should put another win under its belt.

Christopher Nolan's first film was a small film called Following that cost a reported $6,000 to make. It earned good reviews, but never found an audience theatrically. His first big hit was Memento, which earned critical praise and a couple of Oscar nominations, not to mention other major awards. Since then, every single movie he's made has earned impressive reviews, while his two installments in the Batman franchise have earned a combined $700 million domestically and nearly $1.4 billion worldwide. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that Inception, his latest film, is earning a huge amount of buzz. There was a possibility that the film wouldn't live up to this buzz, but the reviews suggest otherwise. Its score of 85% positive is not as good as The Dark Knight, plus it doesn't have the Fanboys backing it up, so matching its opening is out of the question. On the other hand, having a top ten July opening weekend is likely. On the low end, the film should open in the mid- to high-$60 million range. On the high end, it might top $80 million. I'm going with $74 million and an easy first place finish.

It looks clear that Despicable Me will cross $100 million over the weekend. It already has $87 million at the end of its first week of release, while a sub-50% drop-off is very likely. In fact, give its reviews, its target audience, and the weakness in the direct competition, it could fall less than 40%. This puts the low end at just over $28 million and the high end at close to $34 million. I think the high end is a little more likely, so I'm going with $32 million over the weekend for a total of $119 million after two. This will keep $200 million well within range.

It's been a schizophrenic year for Disney so far. It started the year with When in Rome, which was a major miss, but Alice in Wonderland became the biggest hit of the year. However, Prince of Persia flopped at the box office, before Toy Story 3 broke records. (The only film of their's this year that was not feast or famine was The Last Song, which was a solid midlevel hit.) This brings us to The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Early reviews for the film were tragic, and while its Tomatometer score has improved, it is still at just 40% positive. This is hardly terrible for this type of film, but given its Wednesday opening of less than $4 million, it's hard to argue word-of-mouth will save it. Perhaps not enough people knew it opened on Wednesday and it will grow throughout the weekend. This is possible and we've seen examples of this in the past. There is also a possibility that the film will crash tomorrow and become one of the biggest flops of the year. Before Wednesday's numbers were released, a lot of analysts were expecting a $30 million three-day weekend, but that seems unlikely now. In fact, it might not make $30 million over five days. This is almost identical to the Wednesday opening of Knight and Day, which went on to earn $20 million over three days and $27 million over five. The younger target audience for this film should help the weekend numbers, so I'm going with $24 million over the weekend and a five-day opening of $31 million. Given a reported production budget of $150 million, this is a major miss.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse will see its weekend haul sliced in half, again, but with a three-day total of $15 million and a running tally of $265 million, it will keep $300 million in the realm of possibility.

Toy Story 3 should round out the top five with $12 million, more or less. It is already the biggest hit of the year so far, the biggest hit in Pixar's history, and it is still looking to become just the 11th film to reach $400 million.

Finally there's Standing Ovation. This movie is about a group of 'Tweens looking to win a singing competition. Think of it as High School Musical mixed with Glee. It's a low budget production staring mostly unknown actors, or indeed actors in their first major production. The result is not earning a lot of critical praise, nor is the film opening in a lot of theaters. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, there were reports it would open in 1,200 theaters. Then it was 850 theaters. Now it is opening in less than 700 theaters. Add in an ad campaign that is all but invisible, and this could be a mess at the box office. A couple of weeks ago, this film could have opened with just under $1 million and still reached the top ten. This weekend there is more depth at the box office, so it would need to make $3 million to reach the top ten. That would mean it would need a per screen average of just $5,000. However, a per screen average of less than $2,000 is more likely. In fact, some are predicting it won't reach half that. I'm going with 13th place with less than $1 million.

- C.S.Strowbridge Feast and Famine at the Box Office - The Numbers

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Feast and Famine at the Box Office

July 15th, 2010

Inception, one of the most anticipated films of the summer, hits theaters this weekend, which should help the box office keep up its torrid pace of the past few weeks. It will need to, because this time last year saw the release of The Half-Blood Prince, which was one of the most anticipated films of last summer. Inception likely won't top Half-Blood Prince at the box office, though it could come close. But combined with the other wide release and holdovers, 2010 should put another win under its belt.

Christopher Nolan's first film was a small film called Following that cost a reported $6,000 to make. It earned good reviews, but never found an audience theatrically. His first big hit was Memento, which earned critical praise and a couple of Oscar nominations, not to mention other major awards. Since then, every single movie he's made has earned impressive reviews, while his two installments in the Batman franchise have earned a combined $700 million domestically and nearly $1.4 billion worldwide. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that Inception, his latest film, is earning a huge amount of buzz. There was a possibility that the film wouldn't live up to this buzz, but the reviews suggest otherwise. Its score of 85% positive is not as good as The Dark Knight, plus it doesn't have the Fanboys backing it up, so matching its opening is out of the question. On the other hand, having a top ten July opening weekend is likely. On the low end, the film should open in the mid- to high-$60 million range. On the high end, it might top $80 million. I'm going with $74 million and an easy first place finish.

It looks clear that Despicable Me will cross $100 million over the weekend. It already has $87 million at the end of its first week of release, while a sub-50% drop-off is very likely. In fact, give its reviews, its target audience, and the weakness in the direct competition, it could fall less than 40%. This puts the low end at just over $28 million and the high end at close to $34 million. I think the high end is a little more likely, so I'm going with $32 million over the weekend for a total of $119 million after two. This will keep $200 million well within range.

It's been a schizophrenic year for Disney so far. It started the year with When in Rome, which was a major miss, but Alice in Wonderland became the biggest hit of the year. However, Prince of Persia flopped at the box office, before Toy Story 3 broke records. (The only film of their's this year that was not feast or famine was The Last Song, which was a solid midlevel hit.) This brings us to The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Early reviews for the film were tragic, and while its Tomatometer score has improved, it is still at just 40% positive. This is hardly terrible for this type of film, but given its Wednesday opening of less than $4 million, it's hard to argue word-of-mouth will save it. Perhaps not enough people knew it opened on Wednesday and it will grow throughout the weekend. This is possible and we've seen examples of this in the past. There is also a possibility that the film will crash tomorrow and become one of the biggest flops of the year. Before Wednesday's numbers were released, a lot of analysts were expecting a $30 million three-day weekend, but that seems unlikely now. In fact, it might not make $30 million over five days. This is almost identical to the Wednesday opening of Knight and Day, which went on to earn $20 million over three days and $27 million over five. The younger target audience for this film should help the weekend numbers, so I'm going with $24 million over the weekend and a five-day opening of $31 million. Given a reported production budget of $150 million, this is a major miss.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse will see its weekend haul sliced in half, again, but with a three-day total of $15 million and a running tally of $265 million, it will keep $300 million in the realm of possibility.

Toy Story 3 should round out the top five with $12 million, more or less. It is already the biggest hit of the year so far, the biggest hit in Pixar's history, and it is still looking to become just the 11th film to reach $400 million.

Finally there's Standing Ovation. This movie is about a group of 'Tweens looking to win a singing competition. Think of it as High School Musical mixed with Glee. It's a low budget production staring mostly unknown actors, or indeed actors in their first major production. The result is not earning a lot of critical praise, nor is the film opening in a lot of theaters. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, there were reports it would open in 1,200 theaters. Then it was 850 theaters. Now it is opening in less than 700 theaters. Add in an ad campaign that is all but invisible, and this could be a mess at the box office. A couple of weeks ago, this film could have opened with just under $1 million and still reached the top ten. This weekend there is more depth at the box office, so it would need to make $3 million to reach the top ten. That would mean it would need a per screen average of just $5,000. However, a per screen average of less than $2,000 is more likely. In fact, some are predicting it won't reach half that. I'm going with 13th place with less than $1 million.

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Filed under: Inception, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Despicable Me, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Toy Story 3, Standing Ovation