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Will Smart Succeed, or will Audiences Love Guru?

June 19th, 2008

The outlook for this weekend is mixed. On the one hand, very few people are expecting this week's two new releases to match last week's openings. However, most expect them to top last year's new entries, which is the more important task. This, along with the better holdovers, could be enough to push 2008 over 2007's pace for the first time in a long time.

A lot of people were not bullish about Get Smart's box office chances when it was first announced. The thought of adaptating Get Smart seemed almost like heresy, as it is still considered a classic parody of the spy genre and there was almost no way a movie could live up to the comparison. There were even some that were expecting the film to earn a Tomatometer score in the 20s, if not lower. However, its reviews are respectable. Not great, mind you, but at 54% positive, they are better than most films earn. Most critics are saying it isn't as good as the TV series was and it lacks the wit of the original, but it is still a fun movie and that should help its word-of-mouth. As for its box office potential, the vast majority of analysts expect Get Smart to open in first place with most predictions falling somewhere in a narrow range with the high 30s at the low end to low 40s at the high end. If it can reach that upper level, then it should have little trouble hitting $100 million in the end, which would match original predictions quite nicely. Even at $38 million, which is my prediction, it should reach the $105 million predicted at the beginning of the month.

The inevitable comparisons between The Incredible Hulk and Hulk are not going to go away this weekend, or ever. While it started out slower, it is clear The Incredible Hulk is going to hold on better. Not only did the sequel have a better internal multiplier its opening weekend, but its weekday numbers have shown better resilience. In fact, by Wednesday, its daily returns were higher than Hulk's during the same point in its run. That said, it is still not showing a lot of staying power and a greater than 50% drop-off is nearly guaranteed. That would reduce the film's box office to just under $28 million, at most, while it could fall 60% to $22 million and very few people would be surprised. The lower end might be more likely than the high end, but splitting the difference to $25 million is the safest bet. This might be enough to reach $100 million on Sunday, but it will be awfully close.

The Love Guru is not earning a lot of love from the critics. In fact, its Tomatometer score is barely in double digits. Additionally, Mike Myers is not hot at the box office at the moment. He hasn't launched an original character since Austin Powers, and while that franchise was extremely popular, most fans agreed the last film was on the weak side. Further depressing its chances, the movie has a hockey theme to it, which is not a popular sport south of the border and this will undoubtedly hurt the film's box office chances. It could still battle for second place with $25 or $26 million, and it even has a slim, but real, shot at $10,000 per theater average, which would give it just over $30 million over the weekend. Or it could fail to reach $20 million over the weekend and disappear from theaters before July ends. Sadly the low end is more likely, so expect just over $22 million over the weekend, which should be enough for third place, barely.

Next up is Kung Fu Panda, which should climb into third place on the yearly chart after this weekend. So far, the film's midweek numbers have been extremely strong and are only down about 30% from last week. If it can do that well over the weekend, then it would finish with close to $24 million and would have a shot at second place if The Incredible Hulk fails to avoid a massive drop-off. On the other hand, fourth place with just under $22 million seems like a safer prediction. This is still a fantastic number and keeps the film on track to hit $200 million before it is done its box office run.

The final film in the top five will be The Happening, but mostly by default. The film earned terrible reviews, the worst of M. Night Shyamalan's career, its internal multiplier was very low, and so far its midweek numbers have been just shy of disastrous. Most analysts are expecting a 60% decline, or more, which would leave the movie with $12 million or less over the weekend. There are even a few analysts who think the movie will dip below $10 million over the weekend, which would represent a greater than 67% drop off. That seems a tad extreme, but not out of the question, and just under $11 million is much more likely. At least it opened strong so its overall box office won't be too bad.

One last note, Iron Man crossed the $300 million mark on Wednesday, the first film of the year to do so. This means it is now just ahead of original expectations, and it should still earn several million more before slipping out of theaters. It won't be too much longer before Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull joins Iron Man in the $300 million club, and it should overtake it on the yearly charts shortly after that.


Filed under: Iron Man, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Kung Fu Panda, The Incredible Hulk, Get Smart, The Happening, The Love Guru