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Can the Box Office Remain Up?

May 28th, 2009

There are some people worrying that 2009's winning streak could be coming to an end. Not only was last weekend barely above 2008's pace, but this weekend could see an actual decline due to a number of factors. This includes a surprisingly strong film opening in first place last year, as well as weakness in one of the new releases from last week. Up should carry its weight, but it might not be enough.

Up is the latest Pixar movie, and for many moviegoers that is enough to make them want to see it. Its 98% positive reviews are not going to hurt either. (Although frankly its two negative reviews are more than I thought it would have. In fact, I was thinking there was a possibility it would score a clean sweep.) This is the tenth film in a row for the studio with overwhelmingly positive reviews, and it is very likely it will also be the tenth film in the row to be a major hit at the box office. The last six Pixar movies have produced five $60 million openings, and many think Up will be the sixth. However, the film does have stronger competition going against the sophomore stint of Night at the Museum - Battle of the Smithsonian. $50 million is the low end of expectations, while $70 million is the high end. Look for the film to cross $60 million, but it will be awfully close. On the other hand, the race for first place won't be close, as this should be twice as much as its nearest competitor.

That competitor should be Night at the Museum - Battle of the Smithsonian, which opened in first place last weekend with $54 million over three days and $70 million over four. A 50% drop-off compared to its Friday-to-Sunday number would leave the film with $27 million over the weekend, which would be expected given the post holiday weekend. The target demographic would normally mitigate that decline; however, the direct competition will exasperate it. While $27 million seems to be the baseline, it could earn $25 to $30 million over the weekend, which would be more than enough to reach $100 million after ten days of release.

The second wide release of the week is Drag Me to Hell, which surprisingly is earning reviews that are almost as good as Up's reviews. I was not expecting that at the beginning of the month. I was expecting overall positive reviews, but not 95% positive. This, and the buzz, should help it top original expectations, starting with a third place, $24 million opening. This is close enough to second place that it would not be a shock for it to top Night at the Museum 2 at the box office, especially if Up siphons off some of Museum's target audience.

Next up should be Terminator - Salvation, which is also marching towards $100 million. I don't think it will get there this weekend, but it could come close. Best case scenario has the film earning $25 million and challenging for second place. Worst case scenario is $15 million. Splitting the difference gives us $20 million, but I think it will just miss that mark over the weekend.

Star Trek and Angels and Demons will be battling for fifth place. Both could earn between $12 and $13 million over the weekend, with Star Trek having a significant edge in the race for fifth place.


Filed under: Up, Star Trek, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Angels & Demons, Terminator Salvation, Drag Me To Hell