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A Prince Among Kings

May 19th, 2008

The weekend box office was ... mixed, to be generous. The box office leader, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, missed expectations by $30 million, give or take, while the overall box office numbers was also well below expectations at $132 million. At least this was above last weekend's box office tally by about 5%, but below last year's pace by a flabbergasting 27%. Year-to-date 2008 lost even more ground and is now behind last year's pace by nearly 4% $3.21 billion to $3.09 billion. Things need to turn around soon lest the narrative becomes the slumping box office, however, I don't see that happening.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian may have topped the charts, but it missed even the low end of expectations by a considerable margin. It pulled in $55.03 million over the weekend, which was $10 million less than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe opened with two and a half years ago. Combined with slightly weaker reviews and stronger competition, and it is very, very unlikely that Prince Caspian will live up to its predecessor. In fact, it is unlikely that it will reach $200 million at the box office, and depending on which report you believe, that's less than it cost to make. I mentioned this possibility at the beginning of the month, and unless the film does substantially better internationally, Voyage of the Dawn Treader will be the last of the franchise.

Prince Caspian's loss was Iron Man's gain as it beat expectations by pulling in $31.84 million. It also became the first $200 million hit of the year and now has a total of $223.12 million after 17 days. It is on pace to reach $300 million, or at least come reasonably close; If it can hold up well this coming weekend, $300 million becomes more and more likely. Good news, it's a long weekend coming up and that should help its bottom line. Bad news, there's direct competition, and direct competition that will put the squeeze on other films as it tries to grab as many theaters as possible. Fortunately, Speed Racer will likely lose a lot more theaters than Iron Man, and it could remain in the mega-wide range of 4,000 or more theaters.

What Happens in Vegas... also beat expectations pulling in $13.88 million over the past three days for a total of $40.34 million after ten. It seems fans of the genre are ignoring the poor reviews and there's little doubt that the distributor is happy with the film's box office performance so far.

Speed Racer matched expectations nearly perfectly by earning $8.12 million in 3,606 theaters over the weekend. However, with a per theater average of just $2,251 it is hard to imagine many theater owners will want to keep the film for much longer. It probably won't challenge The Seeker's record drop-off of 2,338 theaters, but even so, it seems unlikely that it will be able to add much to its running tally of $30.28 million.

The final film in the top five was Made of Honor with $4.70 million over the weekend and $33.90 million after three.

One last note, The Visitor managed to place tenth despite playing in only 224 theaters. Granted, $672,000 is not a massive weekend and reaching the top ten is more of an indictment of the overall box office than a celebration of the film's box office. That said, $3.39 million is still a very good run for a limited release.

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Filed under: Iron Man, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, What Happens in Vegas..., Made of Honor, Speed Racer, The Visitor