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Dark Days for New Releases? - Correction

July 31st, 2008

Two more new wide releases make their debut tomorrow, but we could have the first threepeat winner of the year as the new number one movie of the year, The Dark Knight, is still going strong. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor does have a slight edge going into this weekend, but it could be close. There is a troubling sign as neither film looks likely to match last year's number one film and with 2008 barely ahead of 2007, any weakness could result in 2008 losing its lead.

The Mummy opened in 1999 and help open summer a week earlier than usual, at least a week earlier than usual at the time. (Summer has since been unofficially extended to the beginning of May instead of the weekend before Memorial Day.) Many people remember that film as a fun action / adventure flick; a popcorn movie. However, its reviews were merely mixed at just over 50% positive. The Mummy Returns earned reviews that were almost identical to the first, but is remembered by many to be a much weaker movie. That said, fans of the franchise will be pining for the days of nearly 50% positive reviews as Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is currently scoring just 9% positive, and that's up for the 0% it was earning earlier in the day. Will this affect the film's box office chances? Undoubtedly, but maybe not for the opening weekend. The film is currently tracking at between $40 and $45 million, with the higher end being slightly more likely than the lower end. Given the film's reviews, and the fact that is it a sequel should give it weak legs. This means if it earns just over $40 million during its opening weekend, it could fail to reach $100 million in total, which would make it only the third film to open with more than $40 million but finish with under $100 million. (Scary Movie 4 and Cloverfield were the first two. Missed the latter the first time around. Sorry for the mistake and thanks to those who pointed it out) On the other hand, if it can open with $45 million, which seems likely, then it should finish with $110 million.

It looks like The Dark Knight will be knocked out of the top spot this weekend, but that's not a guarantee. Given the film's midweek numbers, and its reviews, a sub-50% drop-off is not impossible. In fact, most analysts appear to be predicting a $40 million weekend, or more, which puts it within striking distance of first place. On the other hand, it does make breaking the record for best third weekend tough, but not impossible. Even if it doesn't make it there, it will be just a few days away from reaching $400 million in total, putting it on pace to crush another record. I'm going with a second place, $41 million weekend, which leaves the possibility of $500 million in total just that, a possibility. (Overtaking Titanic, on the other hand, is mostly fantasy.)

Step Brothers' midweek numbers have not been rosy, as the film has lost more than 20% of its daily box office since Monday. It will likely avoid a 50% drop-off, but it is also likely that it will be closer to that mark than 40%. Go with a weekend box office of just over $16 million and a total of just under $63 million. $100 million isn't out of the question, but it will certainly be tough.

Mamma Mia! held well during the week and its Wednesday figure was more than 15% higher than its Monday figure. It is also just over 25% less than it earned last Wednesday, which bodes very well for the upcoming weekend. A weekend drop-off of just 26% is too good to predict. Even a drop off of 30% seems overly optimistic. However, the film should be able to pull in between $11 and $12 million, giving it $86 million in total. There's little doubt it will finish with more than $100 million, and even less doubt that more musicals will be made.

Swing Vote only needs to make a little more than $6 million over the weekend to earn a spot in the top five, but that is not guaranteed. First of all, the film is only opening in 2,200 theaters, which doesn't bode well for its chances. If theater owners thought it would earn a respectable box office, more would have booked it. Secondly, its reviews have fallen from mediocre and have entered the weak range. Finally, the film is political satire, which has been box office poison for a while now. There are some positives, including a charming performance by Kevin Costner and newcomer Madeline Carroll is also earning praise, but that likely won't be enough to reach $10 million. It might not reach $8 million. Some are even predicting it won't earn $7 million. I'm going to go with just over $8 million over the weekend and just under $25 million in total. But if it struggles, Journey to the Center of the Earth will be there to capture fifth place.

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Filed under: The Dark Knight, Mamma Mia!, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Step Brothers, Swing Vote