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Will Norbit Eat the Competition Alive?

February 8th, 2007

Two movies featuring characters with eating disorders open this weekend but there's a clear favorite, at least at the box office. Critically speaking, both are dogs, which is not surprising since we haven't seen a film open to even moderately good reviews since Freedom Writers earned 67% positive during the first weekend of the year.

It's almost a tradition to follow up an Oscar win with a terrible movie; a movie so bad that people forget that the actor once won the highest honor in their profession. Hilary Swank won for Boys Don't Cry and then went out and made The Core. Gwyneth Paltrow won for Shakespeare in Love and then thought Duets would be a good career move. Cuba Godding Jr. won for Jerry Maguire only to make ... well ... pretty much the rest of his career. On the other hand, Eddie Murphy is taking a different approach by making his embarrassment movie before he's officially won the Oscar. In fact, there are those who are saying Norbit is so bad that is could hurt his chances at winning the Oscar. (I know if I was his competition, I'd be mailing copies of this movie to the Oscar voters.)

That said, it is still tracking for an easy box office win. This movie should have an opening very similar to Big Momma's House 2, which is also a fat suit / cross-dressing movie that came out about the same time last year. That film pulled in $27 million during its opening weekend, but one has to assume that Eddie Murphy is a bigger draw than Martin Lawrence and with weaker competition, it should be able to crack $30 million during its opening. However, it will barely break that barrier and will show similarly bad legs during the rest of its theatrical run, ending with around $80 million.

The final chapter of the Hannibal Lecter story is in fact the beginning of the story. However, there's real concern whether people actually care about the origins of the movie villain so many years after the franchise peaked. Further, even if people are interested, will the reviews be enough to scare people away? Tracking suggests one, or both, will hurt Hannibal Rising at the box office, lowering its potential to just over $14 million over the weekend and just under $40 million in total.

Two films will be battling for third place: Because I Said So and The Messengers. Neither film wowed critics and neither really lit up the box office. Given the films' midweek performance, Because I Said So will probably eke out a win with just over $7 million while The Messengers will finish with just under $7 million.

There should also be a close race for fifth place with Night at the Museum battling Epic Movie, both of which should earn roughly $4 million. Logic dictates that Night at the Museum will have a much better hold than Epic Movie and will come out on top. But I said the same thing about Smokin' Aces last week and look how that turned out. I'm still going with Night at the Museum to win, but it will be close; so close that Epic Movie should have a better Friday but Night at the Museum will win the rest of the weekend and come out on top.


Filed under: Night at the Museum, Norbit, Because I Said So, Epic Movie, The Messengers, Hannibal Rising