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Will New Releases Be Lost at the Box Office?

June 4th, 2009

It looks like we will have another losing weekend at the box office, as none of the three new wide releases look like they will come close to last year's winner. In fact, they might not top last year's second place film, or the sophomore stint of last week's box office champ.

After earning Pixar's third best opening ever, Up looks to become its tenth $100 million movie over the weekend. That's not in doubt. What is up in the air is how well it will hold up during its sophomore stint. Some think it could avoid a 40% drop-off, which would give it more than $41 million during the next three days. That seems a little bullish, but first place with $38 million is more realistic. This would give the film about $130 million after ten days, putting it on pace for at least $200 million overall.

The widest wide release of the week is Land of the Lost, which is the latest vehicle for Will Ferrell. Ferrell has a solid track record at the box office; however, this film's reviews are more in line with Semi-Pro's reviews than Talladega Nights's reviews. It seems most critics are complaining that the movie feels like a series of loosely connected comedy skits and not a rousing adventure film. That said, $30 million seems to be the low end of expectations here, while pulling in just over $35 million and a $10,000 per theater average is the target.

The second wide release of the week is The Hangover, which is earning some of the best reviews for a wide release this year. This bodes well for the film's long-term chances; however, without much in the way of star power, it could be a distant third place during its opening. That said, there are some reports that early ticket sales are far outpacing expectations, and are better than those for Land of the Lost. I don't think it will finish in second place, but it could be closer than expected with just shy of $30 million. At the beginning of the month, it looked like it would open with $20 million, so this is a massive increase and should make the studio very, very happy.

The only other film with a shot at $10 million is Night at the Museum - Battle of the Smithsonian, which should add roughly $14 million over the weekend for a total of just over $125 million after three. It is living up to original expectations, but it might not be wise to stretch the franchise into a trilogy, unless they can kept a tighter control over the production budget.

Despite wowing critics, Drag Me to Hell underperformed at the box office last weekend. Now it has to deal with a genre that is not known for long legs if it wants to match original expectations. A sub-50% drop-off to $8 million would be a big help, but $7 million is more likely.

The final wide release of the week is My Life Inn Ruins. This movie is opening in the smallest number of theaters of the three wide releases at just 1,164. It is also opening with the weakest reviews at just 7% positive. Best case scenario (the absolute best case scenario), has the film squeezing into the top five with $7 million. On the other hand, it has a chance at missing the top ten with less than $2 million. The low end is more likely, and $3 million is what I'm going with.

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Filed under: Up, The Hangover, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Land of the Lost, Drag Me To Hell, My Life in Ruins