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Battle of the Box Office Titans

December 19th, 2008

There week there are three wide releases, including the latest from Jim Carrey and the new film with Will Smith. Will Yes Man help Jim Carrey regain his box office crown, or will Seven Pounds help Will Smith tie the record for most $100 million movies in a row? Or will both come true and while helping 2008 maintain its lead over 2007?

In Yes Man, Jim Carrey plays Carl Allen, a man who uses the word, "No" to avoid life. He then makes a vow to say yes whenever anyone asks him if he wants to do something. It's one of those things that doesn't make a whole lot of sense (why go from one extreme to the other?) but the twisted logic is needed to move the plot forward. If you are willing to ignore that and concentrate on Jim Carrey's performance, it is not a bad movie. However, for most critics, that isn't enough. That said, it is the widest release of the week at 3,434 theaters and it is tracking in the mid to high $20 million range. Most analysts think it will end the weekend on the low end, but I'm predicting $28 million. The weakness in last week's openers leaves a vacuum at the top, which should help this film.

Next up is Seven Pounds with Will Smith. This is the actor's first drama since The Pursuit of Happyness, which was only two years ago. That film pulled in more than $300 million worldwide and netted Will Smith a few award nominations. If the critics are correct, that won't happen this time around. In fact, the film's reviews are the worst of the three wide releases. Additionally, it is opening in the fewest theaters at 2,758. But Will Smith is still Will Smith and this film has a shot at time spot, but I think it will miss that mark with $24 million, which would make it his weakest opening since Jersey Girl and his weakest opening where he was the star since Ali. However, even with weak reviews, the holiday season legs could be strong enough to propel the movie to $100 million. A multiplier of four or five is not out of the question this time of the year, especially since many people have the next two weeks off.

New releases could complete the trifecta with Tale of Despareaux, which also opens on Friday. Matthew Broderick provides the voice of Despereaux, a mouse who befriends a princess and has to rescue her when she is kidnapped by a group of rats. The digitally animated movie does have an interesting visual style to it, as it looks like the painted illustrations of the book come to life. Will that be enough for the movie to thrive at the box office? The reviews suggest no. Granted, it is earning the best reviews of any wide release of the week, but at just 45% positive, I don't think it will be a runaway hit. In fact, many analysts think it could struggle to reach the teens. The lack of direct competition could aid the film in reaching $20 million, but a more modest $15 million opening is a lot more likely.

After missing expectations last weekend, many feel that The Day the Earth Stood Still will completely collapse this weekend with some expecting a 60% drop-off to leave the film with just $12 million over the next three days. Even a 50% drop-off will be seem by some as impressive, which puts the high end of expectations at $15 million to $16 million. Normally films released at this time of year have excellent legs, but wow, I don't like those midweek numbers. Go with a weekend prediction of $14 million.

Four Christmases will land in fifth place almost by default, as there's no real competition for that place. Look for just shy of $9 million over the weekend, which will be more than enough for the film to top $100 million in total.


Filed under: Four Christmases, Yes Man, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Seven Pounds, The Tale of Despereaux