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Hannah Headed for the Top

February 1st, 2008

February starts off with what could be the most unlikely of box office hits in Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour. It isn't the only new release this week, but it is looking very likely that it will be the strongest. Granted, a lot of this has to due with Super Bowl Sunday, which siphons off a lot of potential moviegoers, especially the younger male demographic.

How popular is Miley Cyrus? Her concerts sold out in record time. They added more shows. Tickets were being scalped for as much as $10,000 each. In fact, that is how much the Republican Party was charging for them during a recent fundraising kick. For the fans who couldn't afford tickets to the concert, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour is the next best thing. ... If you can get tickets, that is. Reports of sellout are widespread with some people even selling tickets over eBay for $100. As for the film's reviews, they are almost immaterial to the target audience, but very good nonetheless and the film is earning more praise than the other three wide releases combined. (Not that that is particularly difficult this week.) Critics are commenting that the music seems a little too pre-fab at times, but Miley Cyrus and her alter-ego, Hannah Montana, have enough energy and charm to win over plenty of kids, and maybe even a few adults. Despite opening in just 683 theaters, there are some who are predicting the movie will make $30 million or more over the weekend, which would mean nearly 100% of the tickets were sold. $20 million seems a little more likely, but I've been pleasantly surprised before so I'm not dismissing the possibility of a lot more.

A month ago, if you were to ask people which new release would dominate this week, most would have said The Eye. But with Miley Cyrus looking to crush all competition, it is tracking for a distant second place. This movie is a remake of an Asian horror movie, which is no longer a selling point, and hasn't been a selling point for a while now. This is also the fifth Jessica Alba film in less than a year, which could result in overload. To compound matters, only the first of that run, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, managed to make any serious cash at the box office. That is not to say she is box office poison, it's just that she hasn't chosen strong projects recently. And since this movie has not been screened for critics, that trend it likely to continue. That said, it is the widest release of the week, the ad campaign has been moderately effective, and it should score second place with a solid $14 million, or maybe a little more.

Rambo wrestled first place from Meet the Spartans on Sunday and it has clearly showed better strength during the week. Although in this case that strength is clearly relative and the movie will have a hard time avoiding a 50% drop-off this weekend. If it can do that, it would earn just over $9 million over the weekend, while a 60% drop-off would give it just over $7 million. With a potentially historic Super Bowl happening this Sunday, the young male demographic might have other plans over the weekend and that will push this film lower to $8 million. However, that would still put it on track to match its production budget domestically, which should help it earn a profit early in its home market run.

27 Dresses doesn't share much of its target demographic with that of the Super Bowl, so it shouldn't be hurt as much this coming weekend. On the other hand, it does share a lot of its target audience with Over Her Dead Body, one of the wide releases this week. 27 Dresses should also bring in $8 million over the weekend, which would put it in a virtual tie with Rambo for third place. If the Super Bowl lacks entertainment value because of a blowout, Rambo should win out. If the score is closer, 27 Dresses will take the lead. I would bet the former is more likely than the latter.

It appears Juno might be returning to the top five thanks to weakness in not only the new releases but some of the holdovers as well. Specifically, Meet the Spartans, which has shown terrible holds during the week. At this point a 60% drop-off would be considered good news for the spoof, and falling faster than Cloverfield would not be out of the question. I'm expecting $7 million over the weekend, but if it fails to reach that then look for Juno to return to the top five during its ninth week of release.

The next wide release is Over Her Dead Body, a supernatural romantic comedy starring Eva Longoria Parker of Desperate Housewives. Early buzz was negative, but not as negative as the reviews and without an effective ad campaign, its target audience will stay at home. Add in a sub-2,000 theater count and this film seems destined to open outside the top five with just over $6 million.

Finally we get to Strange Wilderness, which many are predicting will open outside the top ten. This film has zero reviews, terrible buzz, a weak ad campaign (in quality if not quantity), and an opening weekend theater count of just 1,208. It could open below the Mendoza line giving it less than $2.5 million over the next three days. Anything significantly more than $4 million will be looked at as a victory of sorts while I'm predicting $3.5 million over the weekend and less than $10 million in total.

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Filed under: Juno, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour, Rambo, Meet the Spartans, The Eye, Over Her Dead Body, Strange Wilderness, 27 Dresses