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Hitching a Ride

January 19th, 2007

Just the one new wide release this weekend, which is surprising since there are five films opening or expanding wide next weekend. This weekend could handle one or two more wide releases and take some of the pressure off next weekend. But as it is now, The Hitcher will have little competition this weekend while next weekend at least two films will be squeezed out at the box office.

As previously stated, The Hitcher is the lone new release this week and should have a clear path to first place, this despite the ongoing slump horror remakes are in at the moment. (Although, to be fair, one could say thriller is a more apt description of the film's genre, but that will hardly make much of a difference at the box office this weekend.) The film has not been screened for critics, which is rarely a good thing, and the ad campaign seems rather lightweight. That is not to say the trailer is bad, but it has not been pushed much by the studio and the lack of hype could hurt the film's chances. Furthermore, there's not a lot of star power here with the biggest name being Sean Bean, who is taken over the role Rutger Hauer played in the original. A lot of people will recognize him from Lord of the Rings. However, while that was a fantastically popular franchise, this hasn't helped Bean become a particularly strong box office draw. On the other hand, he is the biggest box office star in the movie, as Sophia Bush is best known for her role on One Tree Hill while Zachary Kinghton is not particularly well known for anything. So you have zero reviews, a weak ad campaign, low star power and that adds up to just $15 million over the weekend, but that should still be enough to secure first place with ease.

Second place should be a real battle between Dreamgirls, Stomp the Yard and Night at the Museum, all of which should earn around $10 million give or take a million.

Leading that group of three should be Night at the Museum even though it was beaten by Stomp the Yard last weekend and has fallen behind Dreamgirls during the midweek. I'm bullish on the film's chances because it has shown very strong legs over the past weeks and has a younger target demographic. The latter explains the lower midweek numbers while the former suggest that the film will bounce back the most over the weekend. Look for a drop-off of roughly 40% and this would give the film $10.3 million over the weekend, but a slightly higher haul would not be unexpected.

While Stomp the Yard surprised many analysts by winning the box office race last weekend, it will likely see a sharp drop-off this weekend for two main reasons. Firstly, the film is niche market film and these tend to have poor legs and in addition the film's reviews were quite poor. A 50% drop-off is practically guaranteed while a 60% drop-off would not be a shock. The most likely outcome is somewhere in the middle leaning slightly to the lower end at just under $10 million.

Dreamgirls has taken over top spot during the week and that puts it in good stead to finish in second place this weekend. Not only did the film win three Golden Globes, but it is adding another 300 theaters this Friday. On the other hand, it has a much more mature target audience and this explains its stronger midweek numbers more than an overall strength in demand. Even so, it should finish within 10% of last week's box office, either up or down, and that would give it between $9.2 million and $7.5 million. While many are expecting the lower figure, I'm going with the higher.

The final film in the top five will be Pursuit of Happyness with a predicted $6 million. This would put the film on pace to cross $150 million before long, making it the sixth film in Will Smith's career to reach that milestone and the third in a row.

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Filed under: Night at the Museum, The Pursuit of Happyness, Dreamgirls, Stomp the Yard, The Hitcher