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Confusion Over Which Films will Place 1 2 3

June 11th, 2009

We have two new saturation level releases and two holdovers that will play an important part in this week's box office race, and three of them have a legitimate shot at taking first place. This depth should help the overall box office numbers, but the weekend will still have a hard time reaching the box office level of last year when The Incredible Hulk opened with just over $55 million. In fact, the number one film this year might not earn half that much. Let's hope that is not the case, but there is certainly a chance of that happening. On the other end of the spectrum, there is a slim chance the top film surprise by earning $40 million, or more, and coasting to $100 million in total.

Of the three films that have a shot at first place, Taking of Pelman 1 2 3, Up, and The Hangover, Taking of Pelman 1 2 3 has the best shot at earning the most over the next three days. Some analysts think it could pull in $40 million, or more, while others are more pessimistic than that, expecting $25 million at the box office. Given the track record of its two stars, $40 million will be tough, as neither have managed that feat on a regular basis. Additionally, the reviews are on the soft side at just 41% positive. That's not terrible, but it is hardly a selling point, and for a lot of people, this one can wait until the home market. That said, I'm a little more bullish that most, and I'm predicting an opening weekend of $35 million.

After just missing top spot last weekend, Up could recapture first place, if the new films struggle. Not only will it have to rely on Taking of Pelman 1 2 3 stumbling out of the gate, but also Imagine That will have to be weaker competition than expected. If all the parts fall into place, the movie could fall less than a third and earn more than $30 million over the weekend. $28 million and second place is more likely, but that would still leave the film on pace to reach $250 million overall.

The Hangover is the final film with a real shot at first place, but it will need a better than expected hold, weakness in Taking of Pelman 1 2 3 and surprising strength in Imagine That to siphon enough box office dollars from Up. That's a lot of factors that have to fall into place, which is why I'm predicting third place with $26 million. That would leave it just shy of $100 million after ten days of release, which is an excellent result for a film that cost $35 million to make, and likely cost less than that for P&A.

The final wide release of the week is Imagine That, which isn't doing as badly as I had feared it would be with critics. Let's face it, 35% positive is not a great score, but for a family film, it's not that bad either. It is certainly better than many of Eddie Murphy's past few recent movies. Those four films had openings ranging from $34 million all the way down to $5 million. And while I think an opening of $20 million is not out of the question, most analysts are predicting something closer to $13 million. I'll temper my enthusiasm accordingly and go with $15 million.

The final film in the top five should be Night at the Museum - Battle of the Smithsonian, which should add about $9 million to its running tally of $143 million. That should put it just ahead of Land of the Lost for the weekend, and well on its way to profitability.

One final note, The Proposal has sneak peaks in just over 800 theaters this Saturday. Check your local listings.

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Filed under: Up, The Hangover, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, The Proposal, The Taking of Pelham 123, Imagine That