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Will New Releases Force Potter Out of First Place?

July 23rd, 2009

There is almost no chance 2009 will be able to keep pace with last year, and saying 'almost no chance' is overstating 2009's chances. This time last year, The Dark Knight added $75 million to its box office, which is more than all three new releases will earn this week, combined.

It appears that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will have little trouble repeating on top of the charts, and it could, at the high end, avoid a 50% drop-off. On the low end, it could fall 60%. This gives the film a chance to earn between $31 million to $39 million on the high end. Given the film's weekday numbers and its reviews, the high end seems more likely, but the Fanboy Effect seems to be dominating with this film. Look for just over $33 million over the weekend for a total of $225 million after two. Going forward, the film should add $50 to $70 million to put it on the high end of total grosses for the franchise.

G-Force has the most box office potential of the three new releases, but I would be surprised if it reached $30 million. First of all, it's a kids movie, and it has to deal with direct competition at the box office. Secondly, the early reviews have been nothing short of terrible and are currently just a hair above 20% positive. Even for a kids movie, which tend to shrug off bad reviews, this will hurt. Also hurting, ads for Aliens in the Attic are already on TV, and while I don't think that movie will be a better film, it is competition. (For that matter, Shorts is not that far away either.) Perhaps if it is lucky, it could grab top spot, but settling for second place with $28 million is more likely. This is not a great start, but should be enough for it to match its production budget, assuming it was not unreasonably expensive to make.

Next up is The Ugly Truth, a romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler. I don't know how much truth there is in the movie, but the reviews are ugly. Granted, this is not a genre that usually wins over critics, as these films tend to follow the romantic comedy formula pretty closely. However, critics are complaining that the two leads don't have the chemistry or charisma to bring the romance needed, while the jokes fall flat. A romantic comedy without romance or comedy. On the other hand, Katherine Heigl's last two movies opened with $23 and $31 million respectively, while Gerard Butler helped lead P.S., I Love You to more than $50 million. I'm predicting an opening of $24 million and a final box office of close to $70 million, which should please the studio and make sure everyone involved will continue to get work.

The final wide release of the week is Orphan, which is the only film of the week earning reviews that are better than 50% positive. Its reviews are barely above 50%, but one has to look for positives where one can find them. Opening a horror film this time of year can be tricky, and there are very few people who think this movie will be a huge box office hit. In fact, most think becoming a midlevel hit could be tricky. At the beginning of the month I was looking for a $20 million opening; however, that seems overly optimistic now. Some think it may fail to reach $10 million, which would leave it in fifth place, but the consensus seems to be just over $12 million and fourth place.

Ice Age - Dawn of the Dinosaurs should be right behind with between $11 and $12 million. This will push its running tally to close to $175 million, leaving it on pace to reach $200 million, barely.

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Filed under: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, G-Force, The Ugly Truth, Orphan