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21 Hopes to Hit the Jackpot

March 27th, 2008

Four wide releases this week, but only two have a real shot at top spot. In fact, the other two don't really have a shot at the top five. Add in Horton Hears a Who and there should be a three-way race for first place. If Horton can pull off a victory, it would be amazing, since is already the only film released in 2008 that has repeated as box office champion.

21's publicity machine has moved into overdrive and that has increased the movie's box office potential. It is now the odds on favorite to win the weekend, although Horton Hears a Who still has a shot at earning the hat trick. The film's reviews are not terrible, but they are not good either. Some critics are calling in an entertaining thriller, others are complaining about the lack of originality impedes audience members from being drawn in. Odds are this won't have a big impact on its opening weekend, and the more aggressive advertising campaign should help the film secure first place. On the high end 21 could earn $21 million, which would be a really fun coincidence. On the low end, it could earn $12 million or so, which would likely not be enough for first place. In the end it should earn $17 million, and when you have 17, you should always stand, regardless of what the dealer is showing.

Horton Hears a Who fell further than expected last weekend, but it should recover this weekend partially because of its target demographic, as well as its reviews. But also because that's just how films usually go. It suffers the biggest drop-off during its second weekend, then it flattens out a bit, and doesn't suffer bigger drop-offs until it starts shedding theaters. And with a per theater average of $6,208 during its sophomore stint, that won't happen for a while for Horton Hears a Who. The film should earn $16 million over the weekend, including topping $100 million on Friday. If it shows any more strength, or 21 shows any weakness, it could repeat as champion for the third weekend in a row.

The widest release of the week is Superhero! But this film is not earning the best reviews of the week. In fact, it is not being screened for critics. No real surprise there. The spoof has the backing of the same people who made the previous two Scary Movies and it could become the biggest hit of the weekend. Possibly earn the biggest opening of the year. On the other hand, most expect it to slide under Meet the Spartans's opening and pull in between $14 million and $15 million. This is a little lower than original expectations, but not by a huge margin.

Meet the Browns will slide into fourth place, almost by default. The Tyler Perry offering should suffer a 50% drop-off over the weekend, which would actually be better than his average so far. This would leave the film with just shy of $10 million, although hitting 8 digits would be a minor victory for the film, and no other film will come close.

Drillbit Taylor could pull into fifth place, but not because of any major strength in the movie. Reviews are bad, but the competition is extremely weak and $5 to $6 million could be enough to earn fifth place.

There are also two other wide releases that are not truly opening wide. Stop-Loss is the best reviewed wide release of the week. Sadly, reviews have gone from 80% positive to just 58% positive, which is certainly not enough to overcome the Iraq War connection. Add in a theater count of just 1,291 and around $5 million is about as good as it gets. That might be enough for fifth place, if Drillbit Taylor shows any weakness or it shows any strength, but I wouldn't wager money on it.

Finally we get to Run, Fat Boy, Run, the March film I was looking forward to the most. When I wrote that prediction of $25 million for a total box office, I was expecting the film to open in more than 1,133 theaters. I wasn't expecting a saturation level release, but closer to 2,000 theaters. The reviews are also a little weaker than expected at 44% positive. However, it is important to note that that figure is not bad for a romantic comedy and it is not low enough to kill it. The lack of advertising, on the other hand, could kill its chances. The film appears to be tracking for an opening weekend of between $3 or $4 million and it might get to $10 million in total.


Filed under: Horton Hears a Who, Meet the Browns, Drillbit Taylor, Superhero Movie, Stop-Loss, Run, Fatboy, Run, 21