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Will Sex Sell?

May 29th, 2008

There could be quite a battle for top spot at the box office this weekend between the opening of Sex and the City and he sophomore stint of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Hopefully this will help May end with a a stronger box office than the comparable weekend last year. It is possible since the former should open with a bigger box office than Knocked Up while the latter could hold with more than At World's End did.

After earned just over $100 million over the three-day weekend, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is just hoping not to collapse this week. It has to deal with the post-holiday, the Fanboy Effect, etc. but it also has strong reviews, a good internal multiplier, and a lack of direct competition to help it out this weekend. Given the two previous Memorial Day blockbusters (At World's End and X-Men: The Last Stand) a 60% drop-off would not be surprising while a 50% drop-off is likely the best the film can hope for. Most expect The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will perform very close to the middle of that range giving the movie $45 million over the weekend and roughly $215 million in total. This would be enough to keep the film on pace for more than $300 million at the box office, which might be enough to be the biggest hit of the year.

It has been four years since Sex and the City had its series finale and there is a big question mark if the target audience is still interested enough in the lives of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda. Early reports suggest they are, as some theaters in New York City have sold out every showing on multiple screens for the opening weekend. This is great news for the film's opening night, but will it be able to maintain that momentum going forward? To start, reviews are only mixed and have slipped below the overall positive level, and this is particularly bad as the target audience tends to read and respect critical opinion more than most others. However, they are not so bad that the film will collapse right away, but the number of people who will wait to the home market is probably higher. At the beginning of the month, I was expecting this movie to open with just over $30 million but last a long time in theaters and earn $125 million in the end. Now, now it seems likely that the movie will open a lot larger, perhaps even earning more than $50 million, but its legs will not be as strong. Look for the film to open in a virtual tie with The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with $45 million, but its final tally will not be significantly more than original expectations at $135 million.

There should also be a very close race for third place between The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and Iron Man. Last weekend the two films earned $22.79 million and $20.45 million respectively, but the latter film has shown the better ability to hold onto its weekend totals. Look for Iron Man to take third place with just over $12 million while Prince Caspian should fall to fourth with just under $12 million. For Iron Man, this is enough to keep it on pace for $300 million, while for Prince Caspian... well, at least it cracked $100 million yesterday.

Strangers should open in the top five, but only because there's no real competition for fifth place. I've seen some predictions having the film compete for third place with mid to low teens, but that seems unlikely given the film's release date, which is not strong for its genre, its numerous changes in its release date, the similarities to other recent movies, the mediocre reviews. (Although, to be fair the reviews are better than expected, but not strong enough to be considered a selling point.) For it to miss the top five, it would have to earn less than $5 million, perhaps less than $4 million, which is not impossible, but monstrously unlikely. On the other hand, less than $10 million isn't and I'm predicting $9.5 million.

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Filed under: Iron Man, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Sex and the City, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, The Strangers