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In the Know

March 24th, 2009

It was a relatively predictable weekend at the box office with all five films finishing in the right order and within an acceptable margin of error. The main difference was the top three films were more spread out than expected, which gave Knowing a much easier win. Overall, the box office pulled in $105 million, which was 4.5% higher than last weekend, but as expected, it was 6.6% lower than the same weekend last year. Year-to-date 2009 has pulled in $2.20 billion, which is 12% higher than last year's pace.

Knowing may have been panned by critics, but it still finished on the higher end of Thursday's predictions with $24.60 million. Poor reviews generally correlate with bad word-of-mouth, which in turn results in short legs. However, the film's internal multiplier was a solid 2.74 and that's a relatively good sign going forward. I don't think it will reach $100 million in total, but I also don't think it will collapse 70% next weekend, unlike a number of films have done so far this year (Miss March, Jonas Brothers, and Friday the 13th, for example). Assuming reports of a $50 million production budget are accurate, and the film does respectable business internationally, it should show a profit early in its home market run.

As expected, I Love You, Man placed second on the charts with a 3-day total of $17.81 million. This is just a little above Forgetting Sarah Marshall and relatively close to Role Models. Strangely, its reviews were the opposite placing a little above Role Models' score and a little below Forgetting Sarah Marshall's score. More importantly, a score of 80% positive is the second best of the year (behind only Coraline) and that should help its legs going forward.

Star power wasn't enough for Duplicity, nor were solid reviews, as the film opened with just $13.97 million. This is actually better than average for recent Julia Roberts and Clive Owen films, and assuming the movie didn't cost too much to make, it could still show a profit some time during its home market run. But it will need help internationally to do that.

Unfortunately, Race to Witch Mountain appears to have been hurt by its reviews, as it was down nearly 50% to $12.79 million over the weekend for a total of $44.50 million after two. This is not bad compared to the average film this year, but not good given its target demographic. Also, it reduces the film's long term potential to closer to $70 million than $90 million, but that should still be enough to show a profit during the home market. In fact, it should have a relatively lucrative home market run.

Watchmen fell a little faster than expected, down more than 60% to $6.80 million while its total rose to $98.14 million. The film should reach $100 million shortly, but that will be its last major milestone. Depending on how much it cost to make, and how well it does on the home market, that might be enough to show a profit. Eventually.

Looking at the sophomore class, The Last House of the Left was down 59% to $5.78 million over the weekend for a total of $23.90 million after two. As a low budget horror film, this might be enough to show a profit during its initial push into the home market. On the other hand, Miss March absolutely collapsed, down 72% to $664,000 over the past three days and $4.12 million after 10. Given its per theater average, it could lose more than 1,000 theaters on Friday, and $5 million in total might be out of the question. Even a low production budget won't help this film.

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Filed under: Watchmen, Knowing, I Love You, Man, Race to Witch Mountain, Duplicity, The Last House on the Left, Miss March