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All Fun and Games

September 3rd, 2009

It's the final weekend of summer 2009, and already we've broken the record for the season. The previous record was set in 2007 when the total summer box office was $4.16 billion. In comparison, at the end of last weekend, 2009 had earned $4.17 billion and there's one more weekend to go. Granted, 2009 is a rare year where the summer had 18 weekends instead of 17, and 2009 also has two years worth of inflation to help, but this is still worth celebrating. Looking at the final weekend of the summer, we should end the season on a high note as this time last year was, well, terrible. It would be nearly medically impossible for the summer to end weaker than last year, but there is a chance none of the three wide releases will come out on top, which would be a bit of a disappointing end.

The new film with the best shot at first place is Gamer, which stars Gerard Butler, of 300 fame. Here he plays a convicted killer forced to play a video game where his body is controlled by a gamer. He needs to win 30 matches in a row to be released to his family and he's already won 27 matches. It's a high-concept action film that could be really cool, if done correctly. However, so far there are far too few reviews to judge that. At the very high end, the film could pull in $20 million. Or it could struggle to reach $10 million. The higher end is slightly more likely than the low end and $16 million is the prediction I'm going with.

Inglourious Basterds is still showing strength at the box office, and took over top spot on Wednesday. This should give it the advantage in the race for second place, and it has a shot at first place should Gamer stumble. Look for $15 million over the weekend and $96 million in total. Even if it has a harder time dealing with the new releases, it will have no trouble getting to $100 million in total by the end of next weekend.

Last week's number one film, The Final Destination, will come crashing down this week. First of all, it's a horror film, which is not a genre known for long legs. Secondly, it's a sequel, which also tend to have poor legs. Thirdly, its reviews are the weakest in the franchise. Finally, the film's weekday numbers have been poor, with it losing 85% of its daily box office from Friday to Wednesday. A 60% drop-off seems likely at this point, which would give it $11 million over the 3-day weekend, plus close to $4 million on Monday for a total of just under $15 million and third place.

All About Steve is a romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper, both of whom are coming off the biggest hits in their respective careers. This film won't repeat the performance of either The Proposal or The Hangover. We can go into a lot of reasons for this, but I think the simplest is to concentrate on the reviews, which are currently unanimously negative. Granted, the genre is not one that tends to win over a lot of critics and I would have been surprised had the film earned better than 40% positive. However, I wasn't prepared for zero positive reviews out of the first 27 recorded on Rotten Tomatoes. It should still earn $10 million from Friday to Sunday and $13 million including Monday, while in total it should pull in $35 million. Assuming it didn't cost too much more than that to make, which is a safe assumption, it should show a profit eventually.

There should be a bit of a race for fifth place with District 9 having a slim edge over Halloween 2. Both films should earn roughly $8 million over the next four days. This will be enough for District 9 to cross $100 million, while for Halloween 2 it will be enough to guarantee profitability thanks to its low production budget.

The final wide release of the week is Extract, the return of Mike Judge to theaters. So far the film's reviews have been merely mixed, but that's still better than most of the rest of the top ten is earning. I'm a little more concerned about the film's theater count, which is just over 1,600. It's unlikely the studio has a lot of confidence in the movie, otherwise it would be opening the movie in a lot more theaters tomorrow. Lack of confidence usually means less advertising dollars, which in turn means lower box office. On the high end, it would grab fifth place with $8 million, but on the low end it could fail to reach $4 million over the next four days. I'm going with $6 million over the next four days and $15 million in total, which would be Mike Judge's second best box office performance behind Beavis and Butt-head Do America.

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Filed under: District 9, Inglourious Basterds, The Final Destination, Halloween 2, All About Steve, Gamer, Extract