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Will Moviegoers be into New Releases?

February 6th, 2009

There's a quartet of new wide releases coming out this week, with two coming out at saturation level theater counts, and two coming out that are barely opening truly wide. Additionally, only one of the wide releases is earning overall positive reviews, and most analysts seem to think that won't be enough to save it at the box office. Overall the new releases seem stronger than last year, as are the holdovers, which should help 2009 to expand on its lead, while overcoming last weekend's momentary dip at the box office.

There could be quite a battle on top of the chart this week with both He's Just Not That Into You and The Pink Panther 2 trying to take top spot.

He's Just Not That Into You is a ensemble romantic comedy, which is a decent performer at the box office, but it has some added pitfalls the filmmakers have to avoid. For instance, not only does it have to avoid being overly predictable, but with so many characters, there's a chance we won't learn enough about any of them for audiences to connect to them. Sadly, its seems to have fallen for this trap. That said, it is not a bad movie, for the genre, and there's lots of star power. Add in the tracking numbers, and it could win the weekend with just over $25 million.

The Pink Panther 2 is the sequel to the remake from 2006. That film earned very weak reviews, but still managed to open in first place, and had strong enough legs to finish with over $80 million. This film is earning even weaker reviews, and we are talking about Razzie level reviews, but it is tracking to open with slightly more at the box office. It could open in first place like its predecessor, but second place and $24 million is more likely. I strongly suspect the film's legs will be a lot weaker, and $70 million in total could be out of reach.

Last week's winner, Taken, will likely fall to third place, unless one of the two saturation level releases really struggles. However, it appears to be tracking for $12 to $13 million over the weekend, which would give it $45 million domestically, and over $100 million worldwide. With a few more foreign markets to debut in, and at least a few more weeks of wide release, the film should have no trouble racking up enough dollars now to show a profit during its initial push into the home market.

The next release of the week is Push, which is opening in just over 2,300 theaters and with just mixed reviews. Mixed to poor reviews, to be more accurate. It is earning better reviews than last year's Jumper earned, while it doesn't have the same star power. Sadly, star power is more important than quality, at least over the opening weekend, and at just 27% positive, its reviews are not that much better that it will have strong word of mouth. Look for just over $9 million during the film's opening weekend, which will not give it a high enough per theater average to last in theaters long.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop should slide into fifth place with $9 million or so, which would give it a running tally $95 million. That would put it less than a week from $100 million, but it will drop out of the top five before then.

Argh. Coraline is the film opening this month that I'm looking forward to the most, but now that it is opening, I'm not happy. I'm not worried about the quality of the movie; after all, it has nearly twice as many positive reviews as the rest of the wide releases have combined. It is the first truly great movie of the year. It could be up for an Oscar this time next year. However, given its tracking numbers, it looks like it will be ignored by moviegoers. First of all, it is opening in less than 2,300 theaters, the lowest theater count of any of the wide releases. Secondly, while it should be able to draw in kids and adults alike, I'm not sure its ad campaign is connecting the way it should. Best case scenario has the film pulling in third place with $12 million or so, while its worst case scenario has it earning less than half of that. I'm going with a close sixth place and just under $9 million, but I hope I'm underestimating its appeal.

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Filed under: Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Taken, He's Just Not That Into You, Coraline, The Pink Panther 2, Push