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Spartans Bend to Competition, but do not Buckle

March 19th, 2007

This proved to be a double milestone weekend, and a record breaker at that. Two films, 300 and Wild Hogs hit $100 million this weekend. Wild Hogs reached that milestone on Sunday the 18th of March, making it the earliest in a year for three new releases to have crossed $100 million. (The previous record was in 2003 when Daredevil made it there early in April.) Overall the box office was also hot, taking in $118 million. Granted, that is down 23% from last weekend, but it was up 10% from the same weekend last year, which is a much more important figure.

300 fell a little farther than expected over the weekend, but with a sophomore stint of $32.9 million is close enough to call it a victory, and enough to keep the studio very happy. With $129.2 million after 10-days the film is tracking between $180 million and $210 million, depending on how much new releases reduce its theater count. Even if the film looks likely to fail to reach $200 million, it should come close enough that the studio will give it a push over the top. More importantly, it is more than enough to convince the studio to make a sequel. Yes, the story of King Leonidas is pretty much played out, but there are plenty of other ancient battles that can be turned into action blockbusters that are heavy on the fighting and light on the history. Whether or not that's a smart idea is yet to be determined.

Wild Hogs finished on the high end of expectations with $19.1 million, also close enough to call it a victory. It was also more than enough to cross $100 million during its run, making this the biggest hit in at least three years for all four leads (not counting cameos). For Tim Allen, it is the first film of his to reach that milestone that wasn't aimed at kids. Where does it go from here? Well, with five films opening in some degree of wide release this week, it could be a bit hard-going from now on for Hogs as it could lose a number of theaters. Even so, it should still earn a place in the top five as it marches towards $150 million.

The first of three wide releases was only able to place third as Premonition captured $17.6 million. This was the best opening ever for a Sandra Bullock movie and a little above expectations. As for the film's long-term chances, the signals are mixed. An internal multiplier of 2.77 isn't bad, but the reviews were. With a good per theater average of $6,202 it could have reasonable legs and should pay for itself depending after its initial run on the home market.

Next up was Dead Silence, which was able to capture fourth place thanks to weaker than expected competition. Its opening weekend box office of $7.8 million was almost perfectly on target while its reviews turned out to be the best of the three wide releases of the weekend. Granted, 22% positive is still a terrible result, but relatively speaking it was merely bad. As for the film's box office chances, there are too many new releases coming in the next two weeks for this film to survive in theaters longs and even with a low production budget, it will take a bit of help to show a profit any time soon.

The final film in the top five was I Think I Love My Wife with $5.7 million. Reviews started off weak and just kept falling. Adding in a small theater count and not enough publicity and there was just too much for the film to overcome. If it shows any weakness this weekend, it will be mostly gone the weekend after that.

Finally we come to the sophomore class, which was only The Ultimate Gift this week. Good news, it only fell 35% this weekend. Bad news, that was still enough to push it to just $801,000 on 800 screens for a two-week total of only $2.5 million.

On a side note, did you know we were supposed to turn our clocks forward last weekend? I didn't know that, which would explain why I was an hour late all last week. Speaking of being late, the DVD Release column will be a little late this week. It will be published sometime tonight, but probably not until after midnight.

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Filed under: Wild Hogs, Premonition, Dead Silence, I Think I Love My Wife, The Ultimate Gift, 300