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Box Office Lacks Imagination

June 16th, 2009

It was a rough weekend at the box office as neither saturation level new release was able to live up to expectations. Even with stronger than expected holdovers, total box office receipts were still down 16.7% from last weekend to $138 million, which is 23.3% below the same weekend last year. Year-to-date, 2009 has earned $4.55 billion at the box office, which is still 10.9% higher than last year's pace, but we are getting to the point where attendance might show declines, as we've lost a lot of ground in the past few weeks.

The Hangover beat expectations, again, and earned top spot, again. This time it earned $32.79 million over three days for a total of $104.77 million after ten days of release. This is the least time an R-rated comedy has ever taken to reach $100 million, shaving a day off of Sex and the City's record from last year. At this point, it is $24 million ahead of The Wedding Crashers' pace, and even with marginally sharper declines and stronger competition going forward, it could reach $200 million in the end.

Up beat expectations, again, but had to settle for second place, again. Over the weekend it added $30.76 million to take its running tally to $187.43 million. Now $250 million in total is at the low end of expectations, while at the high end it could top The Incredibles for second place on the all-time chart for Pixar.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 opened in third place with just $23.27 million, which was below even the low end of expectations, and even worse, was significantly below Sunday's studio estimate. This means it is likely that the reviews and word-of-mouth are hurting the film and it will struggle to fill theaters going forward. Original expectations will be very difficult to match, but assuming it wasn't an outrageously expensive film to make, it could still show a profit sometime during its release on the home market.

Night at the Museum - Battle of the Smithsonian was within a rounding error of Thursday's prediction with $9.62 million over the weekend and $143.46 million after four. It's well below its predecessor, but still profitable.

Land of the Lost was able to remain in the top five, thanks partially to weaker competition, but also due to a better than expected hold. Granted, it fell by more than 50% to just $8.99 million over the weekend for a total of $34.82 million after two. This was an expensive movie to make and advertise, so it will need a lot of help to reach profitability.

Imagine That opened poorly, to say the least. It managed just $5.50 million in 3,008 theaters for a per theater average of just $1,830, which is below the Mendoza line. Its reviews were nowhere near as weak as that, but even if the film has good word-of-mouth, there's no way theater owners will keep this film around any longer than they are contractually obligated to.

Moving onto the sophomore class, we find My Life Inn Ruins falling out of the top ten with a mere $1.71 million over the weekend for a total of $6.37 million after two. It will mostly vanish by next weekend, and will be all but forgotten by next month.

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Filed under: Up, The Hangover, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, The Taking of Pelham 123, Land of the Lost, Imagine That, My Life in Ruins