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Fast Start or Furious Filmmakers?

April 2nd, 2009

April starts off with what could be one of the biggest openings of the year, as well as one of the best reviewed movies of the year. Sadly, these are two separate movies. Even if the top film misses expectations, it should still earn more than the combined total of last year's set of wide releases, and help 2009 maintain its record setting pace.

Fast and Furious is the only truly wide release of the week, and it should be the only one in contention for top spot on the box office chart. Looking at the franchise so far, the first one started off well and had excellent legs and is still the biggest hit of the series. The second one started even faster, but collapsed quicker. And the third one... the less said bout the third one the better. This one is earning the weakest reviews by a large margin, the buzz is not nearly as strong as with the first two films. There is still a chance it will score the biggest opening weekend of the franchise at more than $50 million; in fact, that seems to be the analysts' consensus. I, on the other hand, I am not as bullish as that. In the back of my mind, I have this feeling that the film will earn closer to $40 million than $50 million. Regardless of how well it opens, it will likely collapse during the coming weekends, and if I'm right, it could become the third film of the year to open with more than $40 million but not hit $100 million in total. I'm predicting $42 million over the weekend and $85 million in total. But it could earn more than $50 million over the weekend and there is still a chance it wouldn't reach $100 million in total.

The only other film that will be anywhere near first place is Monsters vs. Aliens, which had the best opening weekend of the year so far last weekend. On the plus side, its target demographic tends to stick around over time, while reviews won't hurt either. On the high end, it could lose 50% during its second weekend of release, which would give it just under $30 million over the next three days, and just over $100 million over ten. It could also drop less than 40%, meaning it would add $36 million from Friday to Sunday. Split the difference gives the film $33 million and a solid second place outing.

The Haunting in Connecticut has a chance at earning more during its second weekend release than it was predicted to earn last weekend. It would have to have a sub-50% drop-off in order to do that, but that doesn't seem likely. First of all, it is a horror film, and those are notorious for sharp declines during their second weekend of release. Secondly, its reviews are at just 20% positive, which is bad even compared to the average film like this. I'm not entirely sure the film will be able to top $10 million over the weekend, but it could be close.

Knowing and I Love You, Man should battle it out for fourth place, both of them earning $8 million. The latter has a tiny edge at this point, but is could be too close to call, even after Sunday's estimates are in.

The final wide release of the week is Adventureland, but with an opening theater count of just 1,862, it is not opening truly wide. On the plus side, it is opening with some of the best reviews of the year. On the down side, the ad campaign has not been overly aggressive, and the film will have to beat expectations just to earn a per theater average of $5,000. That would give it an upper limit of around just over $9 million, while it could fail to earn $6 million. I think the higher end of more likely and I'm going with an opening of just under $8 million, which will leave it within striking distance of fourth place.

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Filed under: Monsters vs. Aliens, Fast & Furious, Knowing, I Love You, Man, The Haunting in Connecticut, Adventureland