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Can Cloverfield Conquer?

January 17th, 2008

A 2008 release finally looks like it will win a weekend. The first two weeks of the year have brought us wins by holdovers, but the super-hyped Cloverfield should end that streak. Or it could turn into another Snakes on a Plane, I'm still not sure which way it will go.

The natural number one release of the week is Cloverfield, which is easily the most hyped January release this year. In fact, it is arguably the most hyped January release since the special edition Star Wars came out more than a decade ago. It is unlikely to live up to that release. In fact, it might not live up to the number one true January opening, which was Big Momma's House 2. Cloverfield is being described by some as a cross between Godzilla and The Blair Witch Project, and fortunately its reviews are much closer to the latter than the former. But there is still the troublesome (and potentially over done) hype to worry about. If it lives up to the hype, it could earn $40 million over three days and $50 million including Monday, but it could also fail to make half of that. This tracking it on the higher end and it should make $33 million in just over 3,400 theaters over three days and $42 million over four, which would be a record for Martin Luther King long weekend, but probably not enough to reach $100 million in the end.

(On a side note, there have been several reports that the film cost $25 million to make, which is a little lower than earlier reports. If this is true, the film could miss expectations and still show a profit by the time it hits the home market.)

We have a second new release coming out in more than 3,000 theaters this weekend and it is the romantic comedy, 27 Dresses. Reviews for the film are weak at just 35% positive. However, This is normal for the genre, which tends to be dominated by clichés and that is a deal-breaker for most critics. However, with the average moviegoers the film will live or die on the chemistry between its two leads, Katherine Heigl and James Marsden. Neither actor has much experience carrying movies, but they are both coming off of $100 million hits, Knocked Up and Enchanted, both of which had a certain romantic charm to them and this should help 27 Dresses' chances. Look for just over $20 million over three days and just under $25 million in four.

There are three new releases this week, but none really match the target audience of The Bucket List, which should help the film immensely. It should have one of the best week-to-week drop-offs in the top ten, adding $12.5 million / $15.5 million over the weekend and that would give it more than $40 million after just a month of release and barely more than one week of wide release. At this point, matching original expectations should be academic, but it won't overshoot that mark by a wide margin either. A solid midlevel hit.

The only film in the top five to have a better week-to-week showing will be Juno. In fact, outside expansions, Juno will have the best week-to-week showing in the top ten. It is tracking to come very, very close to $75 million before the weekend starts, while it should add $10 million / $12.5 million during the weekend. At this point it is hard to imagine the movie won't reach $100 million by the time its run is over, while it is equally hard to believe it hasn't earned a profit already.

First Sunday has not shown a lot of strength since the weekend. In fact, it has been so bad there is a reasonable chance it will be bounced out of the top five. (Only the fact that National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets is losing more than 400 theaters on Friday is preventing me from predicting just that.) Even with the long weekend, I see this film getting hurt pretty badly, down to $8 million over the three-day portion of the weekend and $10 million over four. On the other hand, that will raise its total to $30 million, which is more than enough to make the studio happy.

The final wide release this week is Mad Money, which stars Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes. So far the reviews are barely above the catastrophic level and the competition from 27 Dresses will be hard on the film. Perhaps the three leads will help bring in a wide variety of the female demographic and this could help it get as high as third place. However, missing the top five with $7 million / $9 million is more likely. A low production budget should help the film show a profit sometime during its initial push into the home market.

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Filed under: Juno, The Bucket List, Cloverfield, First Sunday, Mad Money, 27 Dresses