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Meet the Museum

January 12th, 2007

The weekend prospects are pretty weak, with none of the wide releases / expanding films looking like they have what it takes to top the box office charts. This is not particularly surprising, as the Martin Luther King long weekend is not known as a powerhouse at the box office. With a returning champion and a selection of new and expanding films, moviegoers have a lot of choice, but come Tuesday, there won't be a lot of celebrating in the movie studios.

With no wide release tracking particularly well, Night at the Museum is on track to win the box office race for the fourth time, a feat not accomplished since Passion of the Christ. And this would be the fourth weekend in a row, which hasn't done since Return of the King. The film will likely pull in roughly $18 million over the weekend to give it about $185 million overall and that would put it less than a week away from $200 million.

The only film with a real shot at taking top spot is Stomp the Yard. On paper there is very, very little to suggest it will be a box office hit, but similar films in the past have managed to spin box office gold out of even less straw. I would compare the film to You Got Served or Drumline as it has a similar feel and a similar target audience. Its reviews are much closer to You Got Served than Drumeline while its opening weekend potential is the reverse. This will give the film $13 million over the weekend and just over $30 million in total. These are hardly figures of note, but they are more than enough to ensure a profit sometime down the line. On the other hand, it is also the film with a the best shot at surprising and could end up with more than $20 million over the next four days, but I wouldn't be willing to put money on that.

With the Golden Globes being handed out this Monday, Dreamgirls is further expanding over this weekend in the hope of taking advantage of the free publicity. This is a smart move since the Golden Globes have categories for Comedies / Musicals and this gives the film a huge advantage compared to the Oscars when it has to go against Dramas. Fair or not, Musicals tend to do better at award ceremonies than Comedies do, but not as well as Dramas. However, while the awards will help the film's bottom line, it will be too late for this weekend. The expansion and the holidays, on the other hand, will help the film grow to just over $12 million over the weekend and just under $70 million overall.

Pursuit of Happyness continues its strong run as Will Smith's chances for award season glory rise. The film should take home another $11 million over the weekend while the actor could walk away with his first Golden Globe. Earlier in the year I figured Forest Whitaker was a lock for this award, but now I think it's a horse race between Peter O'Toole and Will Smith. (Not enough people saw The Last King of Scotland and it opened too long ago for those who did see it to remember it.) (Editor's Note: Fox are trying to fix this problem for Last King... by expanding it to approximately 400 theaters next weekend.)

The next new release is Arthur and the Invisibles, which is not opening as wide as expected at just 2,247 theatres. This is little less than Happy N'Ever After opened with last weekend and while its reviews are a significantly better, they are nowhere near good enough. Add in the holiday on Monday and a slightly better ad campaign (not to mention David Bowie as the main bad guy), and this film should get off to a better start. $10 million over the next four days appears to be the target, which may or may not be enough to put it into fifth place ahead of Freedom Writers, which is adding 700 theaters on Friday.

Agree? Disagree? Put your prognosticating to the test and enter our Purgatory Boys contest for a chance to win a signed Purgatory House DVD and poster, as well as other prizes.

The next release is the widest release of the week. Unfortunately, that's the only good thing going for Primeval. You will notice that the film doesn't appear on our January preview. That's because up until last week, the film was scheduled for an April release. That's right, this film was moved up four months the week before its new release date. That's suicide. It's too bad because the film does have some promise; it's... incoming spoiler ... in 3... 2... 1... being advertised as a serial killer movie, but is in fact about a giant crocodile, which is a good twist. The last minute scheduling change means the ad campaign didn't have enough time to develop and the lack of reviews is going to convince a lot of people the film is not worth seeing. So even if it is better than expected, it will still struggle at the box office, most likely missing the top five with between $6 million and $8 million. Split the difference gives us a prediction of $7 million.

Next up is Alpha Dog. On the one hand, the film is earning much better than expected reviews and topped the overall positive level. On the other hand, it is opening in only 1,200 theaters with an ad campaign that is far too ineffective to compensate. Normally when stronger than expected reviews meets up with weaker than expected ad campaign / theater count the latter wins out. This will likely be the case here. There's a slim shot it will take a place in the top five, but missing the top ten with $5 million is more likely.

Finally we get to Curse of the Golden Flower, which is expanding into more than 1,200 theaters this weekend. Reviews have been good for the film, but it has not done particularly well in limited release so far. Best case scenario has the film earning a spot in the low end of the top ten with just over $5 million, but less than $4 million is more realistic.

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Filed under: Night at the Museum, The Pursuit of Happyness, Dreamgirls, Stomp the Yard, Arthur et les Minimoys, Primeval, Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia, Alpha Dog