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Smart Money is on Prom Night becoming the King of the Weekend

April 10th, 2008

The latest horror remake, Prom Night, is tracking stronger than expected and should win the box office race over the weekend. However, it is the only strong release of the week and could be the only film to crack $10 million over the weekend. Conversely, this weekend last year four films hit 8 digits, and this makes it very likely that 2007 will slip further behind last year's pace.

We are less than four months into 2008, and we've already seen four horror films open wide, but none of then have had breakout success. Sony is hoping that streak ends this weekend as they are set to release Prom Night in an estimated 2,700 theaters. At the moment, the film appears to be tracking in the high teens to low twenties, which would not only make it a clear number one film for the weekend, but the biggest opening for the genre for the year. There are very few reviews, and they are mixed, but that was expected. Most critics are complaining that the remake is adding nothing new to the genre (while taking away the motive from the original movie) and it is unlikely the execution will be enough to compensate. Fortunately, this is not a movie that will live and die on its reviews, but it is also not a movie that is likely to have strong legs so it needs to get off to a really fast start. Prom Night could make $20 to $22 million over the weekend, on the high end, but it could barely reach the teens on the low end. Go with a prediction of $19 million.

Next up is Street Kings. This latest violent crime thriller set in Los Angeles is written and directed by James Ellroy and David Ayer respectively, two men familiar with the sub-genre. Sadly, they brought nothing new in this film and the only real selling point appears to be the violence. The ensemble cast is quite strong, but it is being led by Keanu Reeves, who is being described as miscast in this role. However, he should still have enough star power, and the ad campaign has been slick enough to pull the movie over the $10 million mark, but not by a lot. That will give the film an opening of $11 million over the weekend.

After repeating in first place, 21 should be pushed into third place during its third weekend of release. None of the new releases are direct competition, but they all pull a little from this film's target demographic. Even so, it should hold on rather well and earn just over $9 million, perhaps close to $10 million over the weekend. This is close enough to the expected opening of Street Kings that is could land it in second place over the weekend.

Also aiming at $9 million or so is Nim's Island. Positives going for the film include its target demographic, which tends to reward movies with repeat business, but also the lack of direct competition. On the other hand, the reviews were only mediocre. Just over $9 million is possible, but just under is more likely.

Leatherheads started off slower than expected and hopes not to fall faster than expected. Best case scenario has the film dropping less than 40% this weekend, which would leave it with just under $8 million over the weekend. It could also drop more than 50% leaving it with just over $6 million. Split the difference gives us a prediction of $7 million, which is the most likely result.

Smart People is the best reviewed new release of the week, but it is also only earning 45% positive reviews. This is a lot lower than expected and a real problem as the older target demographic is a lot more likely to read reviews and make decisions on whether or not to see a film based on them. Combined with a theater count of just 1,106 and an ad campaign that is barely alive and there's little hope the film will crack the top five. In fact, if it weren't for the dearth of competition, its $3 to $4 million opening weekend wouldn't be enough to crack the top ten. That certainly was the case this week last year. I expect it to do better on the home market.

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Filed under: Nim's Island, Prom Night, Leatherheads, Street Kings, Smart People, 21