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Box Office Soars Like Some Kind of Bird

September 30th, 2008

It was a relatively predictable weekend at the box office with four of the top five films matching expectations, more or less. There was only one film on Thursday's column that beat expectations by a serious degree, and it was matched by another film that missed expectations by nearly the same margin. Overall the box office just climbed above nine digits, hitting $101 million over the weekend. This was 14% more than last weekend and 11% more than the same weekend last year. 2008 is still behind 2007, but by less than 1% at $7.11 billion to $7.15 billion.

As expected, Eagle Eye opened in first place. However, with $29.15 million over the past three days, it earned less than most were expecting (although it was in line with our predictions). This is still the fourth biggest September opening and the fifth biggest September weekend overall, just behind The Sixth Sense. Granted, that movie was in its fifth week of release, and there's little else that you can compare between these two films, certainly not their critical receptions. Eagle Eye's reviews sunk to a mere 27% positive, which is bad, even when compared to most September releases. Where can it go from here? Even given the poor reviews, $75 million is well within reach, and it could even reach $90 million with a little luck. $80 million is probably more likely, but it depends on how well it hangs on with October releases just around the corner.

Nights in Rodanthe scored a solid if unspectacular $13.42 million over its opening weekend for a per theater average of just under $5,000. It's hard to get too enthusiastic about that opening, and even harder to think of something to write about it. It's solidly mediocre, and that's all you can say. As for its future, its target audience generally supports a film in the long run, but with reviews that were just 26% positive, it is not likely that the film is generating much in the way of positive word of mouth. Perhaps a relatively low production budget could help the film earn a small profit by its initial push into the home market, but that's as far as it will go.

The best of the holdovers was Lakeview Terrace, which fell a tad more than expected to $6.97 million. However, this is close enough to call a victory, while it is about a week away from topping original expectations.

The biggest surprise of the week was Fireproof, which placed fourth with $6.80 million in just 839 screens. Additionally, its reviews were actually good. If the churchgoers that make up its target audience support the film over the coming weeks, it could become a surprise mid-level hit, which could in turn encourage more studios to make films aimed at the same target demographic. On the other hand, it could crash like so many niche market films do. We should know by this time next week.

The only other holdover in the top five was Burn After Reading with $6.20 million for the weekend and $45.57 million after three. The film is now the second biggest hit for the Coen Brothers, topping O Brother, Where Art Thou, but that's as far as it will go: No Country for Old Men's box office record is safe.

The final wide release of the week was The Miracle at St. Anna, but the film struggled landing in ninth place with $3.48 million. Granted, it was playing in only 1,185 theaters, but it is unlikely that the studio will be satisfied with that. Add in the terrible reviews, and I can't image the movie will stick around in theaters for long.

Moving onto the sophomore class, Igor performed the best, down a mere 31% to land in sixth place with $5.38 million over the weekend and $14.22 million in total. However, while that was a smooth landing, it was a case of too little too late. Just behind it, at least in terms of its ranking was My Best Friend's Girl; however, this movie plummeted more than 53%, which is high for its genre, adding $3.88 million over the weekend for a total of $14.61 million. Finally, Ghost Town fell out of the top ten, adding $2.93 million to take its 10-day total to $9.22 million. There's always hope on the home market.


Filed under: Eagle Eye, Nights in Rodanthe, Lakeview Terrace, Fireproof, Igor, My Best Friend's Girl, Ghost Town, Miracle at St. Anna, Chu Chu and the Philly Flash