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Glory Awaits

August 21st, 2009

This week we have two saturation level releases and two releases that don't even qualify as truly wide but could still reach the top ten. Realistically, even with four wide-ish releases, only one of them has a real shot at top spot and that will hurt the overall box office. On the other hand, this week last year was much worse in terms of high powered releases and 2009 should continue its winning ways.

The only new release with a real shot at top spot is Inglourious Basterds, the latest from Quentin Tarantino. This film is a not-quite-a-remake of the Enzo Castellari film of the same name (although it is spelled differently). The new film earned some mixed buzz when it debuted at Cannes earlier this year. Some said it was Tarantino's masterpiece while others said it was an overlong, disjointed mess. So far the reviews point the former rather than the latter, which is great news for his fans, who have been looking forward to this film for a long time. As for the film's box office chances, those are a little more sketchy. True, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the film for a long time, but this can also be said of Grindhouse, and that film struggled at the box office despite earning similar reviews. Inglourious Basterds has a terrible release date, but it also has no competition from the other new releases this week. Finally, it is being released by Weinstein Co., which hasn't had a massive hit since the last Scary Movie came out, while its last wide release was Zack and Miri. It's not been an active studio recent, and some saying that if this movie isn't a big hit, that could be the end for the company. I don't know if that's true, but given its lack of activity this year, I would not be surprised if this was the case. On the low end, Inglourious Basterds could struggle to make $20 million, which would put it in danger of missing top spot. On the high end, it could reach $40 million over the next three days and over $100 million in total. I think the high end is a little more likely and it will earn $35 million over the weekend. However, despite excellent reviews, I think its legs will be short, and it will earn $75 million in total.

"Long legs" is not a term used to described most films that have come out this year, or most recent years, but there's a chance District 9 could buck that trend. The film earned some of the best reviews of any wide release of the year and its Internal Multiplier was better than expected. On the other hand, the film's midweek numbers are not as strong as I would have liked. I think on the low end it could earn $15 million over the weekend, which would be a huge blow to the film's chances to reach $100 million in total. On the high end, it could earn $25 million, which would be a drop-off of just 33%. $20 to $22 million is more likely, and I'm going with a prediction of $21 million over the weekend and $76 million after two.

G.I. Joe reached $100 million on Monday, but that will be the last major milestone for the film on the domestic front. It should be able to grab fourth place this weekend with just over $10 million, giving it a total of $119 million in total. Normally this would be a good result given its release date, but the film did cost a lot to make and it will have a hard time earning back its costs.

The second saturation level release of the week is Shorts, which is the latest kids movie by Robert Rodriguez. Previously the filmmaker made the Spy Kids trilogy, which averaged $100 million at the box office. On the other hand, he also made The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D, which earned terrible reviews and struggled at the box office. Unfortunately, Shorts is earning reviews that are closer to Sharkboy and Lavagirl than the average Spy Kids movie earned. Also, the movie is opening way too late in the year for a kids movie to become a major hit at the box office. Best case scenario has the film opening in a close race for second place with $15 million, but just under $10 million is most likely, which should still give it an easy shot at fifth place.

The Time Traveler's Wife should round out the top five with just over $9 million over the weekend and $36 million in total. Not the biggest hit of the summer, but given its release date, it could have been a lot worse.

Post Grad is the next wide release of the week, although by opening in just under 2,000 theaters, it is not really a wide release. It is also opening with an ad campaign that is weaker than its theater count, and reviews that are weaker still. Add in the fact that Fox Searchlight's bread-and-butter is limited releases, and you have a situation where it is hard to be bullish about its chances at the box office. This movie could miss the top ten with under $3 million, but just over $4 million seems a tad more likely.

The final wide release of the week is X Games 3D: The Movie. The only part of that that makes me think it has a shot is the 3D part, because it means the ticket prices will be higher than most films. Even so, it is opening in just 1,399 theaters and with weak reviews and its ad campaign has been nearly invisible. Reaching the top ten might not be in the cards and it will likely finish with just under $3 million.

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Filed under: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, District 9, Inglourious Basterds, The Time Traveler's Wife, Shorts, Post Grad, X Games 3D: The Movie