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Early Start for Iron

May 1st, 2008

Summer unofficially starts this weekend with the release of Iron Man, which actually opened on Thursday night. There is little doubt that it will finish on top of the box office chart this weekend. The real question is how far up the all-time chart it will go.

Early buzz on Iron Man has always been good and many think that casting Robert Downey, Jr as an alcoholic, amoral, arms dealer turned super hero was a stroke of genius. However, even with the buzz and a very cool teaser trailer, I don't think anyone was expecting its reviews to be this good. A Tomatometer score of 95% positive is outstanding. It's beyond outstanding. It's the best-reviewed wide release of the year and among the best-received comic book adaptations ever. This is undoubtedly helping the film's tracking numbers, which have steadily climbed in nearly every demographic as the release nears. As far as I can tell, there are only two serious obstacles in the film's path. Firstly, it is not the most famous Marvel creation out there and its popularity among the general public is more in line with Hulk and Fantastic Four than Spider-man or X-Men. Second, there's the politics. Iron Man touches on the Global War on Terror, which has been box office poison for a while. It is the latter that is the biggest problem. That said, even lowball predictions have the movie earning $70 million over the weekend while, at the higher end, it could pull in $100 million or more. I'm a little more bullish than most and I'm predicting $95 million in total, including $8 million on Thursday.

The only other wide release of the week is Made of Honor, a romantic comedy starting McDreamy himself. The film is tracking well with the younger female demographic, despite its poor reviews. In fact, calling the reviews merely poor is being very generous as they have dipped into the single-digit domain. However, it is still tracking for an opening weekend in the mid-teens with $17 million on the high end and $13 million on the low end. Split the difference gives us a prediction of $15 million, which is reasonable start given the genre and the competition.

Competition for the box office dollars will surely hurt Baby Mama this weekend. Not only is Iron Man opening in more than 4,000 theaters, but Made of Honor is going for the same target demographic. That said, its reviews are much better than the new film and it has shown reasonable strength during the week. Best case scenario has the film earning just over $10 million, but just over $9 million is more likely. This would give it more than $30 million so far, and put it less than a week from topping original expectations.

Likewise, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay has to deal with intense and direct competition. However, it has to deal with Iron Man and not Made of Honor. Additionally, reviews and midweek numbers have been weaker than Baby Mama and a 50% drop off is expected. That would leave the film with just over $7 million over the weekend and $26 million in total.

The final film in the top five should be Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It should add just over $6 million to its running tally this weekend, which puts it on track to earn over $50 million during its run. This is a little lower than original expectations, but close enough to call it a victory.


Filed under: Iron Man, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Baby Mama, Made of Honor, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay