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Jet Li and Jackie Chan Team Up to Take Over the Box Office

April 22nd, 2008

New releases were able to match expectations at the box office this weekend, for the most part, and there were hardly any surprises overall. This led to overall box office revenue of $94 million, which is about 1% lower than last weekend. However, it is also 6% higher than the same weekend last year, which ends 2008's four-week losing streak. Year-to-date, 2008 is still behind $2.47 billion to $2.56 billion, but we will take every little bit of good news as it comes.

The Forbidden Kingdom opened with $21.40 million, which was above expectations. It was also Jet Li's best opener since Lethal Weapon 4 and Jackie Chan's best outside of the Rush Hour franchise. However, even with overall positive reviews, the fanboy effect should kick in pretty hard here and there's little chance it will survive for long, especially with the start of the summer blockbuster season just over a week away. That said, it won't have a problem showing a profit sometime during its home market run, if not sooner.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall also beat expectations, albeit by a smaller margin, earning $17.73 million over the weekend. With some of the best reviews for a wide release this year, the film should have little trouble holding on next weekend, while it might even survive as counter-programming when Iron Man opens the weekend after that. This gives it a solid shot at $50 million domestically, which would be enough to pay for its production budget, while it could still match initial expectations. As for profitability, it could show a profit as early as sometime during its international run, but if it is like other Judd Apatow films, which have struggled outside English speaking markets, it will have to wait until the home market to cover the rest of its expenses. Even so, one has to think the studio is happy so far.

Prom Night did not collapse as many expected. Granted, a 58% drop-off to $8.67 million is nothing to be proud of, and is barely above Thursday's prediction, but it could have been much, much worse. As for its running tally, that has climbed to $32.13 million, which is enough to cover its production budget, even after taking into account the exhibitors' share. It should reach profitability either early in its home market run or late in its international run, which chronologically is the same thing, as it has international openings right at the end of July.

88 Minutes was unable to match expectations -- the only film in the top five where that happened. Over the weekend, it made just $6.96 million in 2,168 theaters for a per theater average of $3,209. Combined with some of the worst reviews of the year, it's easy to think that many theaters will drop this film as soon as they are contractually allowed to. (Which is the same weekend as Iron Man opens.) I expect it to be just a faint memory before May is halfway over.

Surprisingly, Nim's Island placed fifth with $5.69 million over the weekend for a total of $32.89 million after three. This came thanks to a combination of better than expected holds despite a decline in theater count, as well as weaker than expected competition. The film needs a little more help to get to the midlevel hit range, but it is the only kids movie playing from now until Narnia 2, and that will help.

The final new release in the top ten was Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which not only opened in the fewest theaters of the four new releases, but also opened with the lowest per theater average. This was a fatal combination as the movie opened in ninth place with $2.97 million, which might be less than it cost to make and ship the 1,000+ prints to theaters. Combined with a Tomatometer score that is barely above single digits, and this film fits the definition of bomb to a tee. It will go down in history as the widest release for a documentary, so it at least has that, but that will be little comfort to those who backed it financially.

Finally we get to the sophomore class, which has just two other members. Street Kings fell from second to seventh, down more than 66% to $4.18 million over the weekend and now has a total of $20.06 million. Next up was Smart People, which faired little better in terms of percent drop-off as the film was down just shy of 61% to $1.60 million. Its total is $6.81 million. Quite frankly, the movie was not perfect, but it was better than this outcome would indicate.

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Filed under: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Forbidden Kingdom, Nim's Island, Prom Night, Street Kings, 88 Minutes, Smart People, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed