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Six Shooting for Top Spot

March 22nd, 2007

There are six films opening in wide release this week, or at some level of wide release. This is at least three too many, and to make matters worse, several share target demographics. This insanity will mean that at least two films, possibly more, will fail to reach their potential. It also makes predicting the weekend extremely difficult because of the extra variables. Will Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles appeal to just the younger crowd, or will fans of the original series also show up? If so, will this cut into the box office of The Hills Have Eyes 2 and Shooter? There's a lot to consider here.

Both Shooter and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are tracking at just over $20 million this weekend. Whether both can make it there and which one will come out on top is too close to call. Both are earning weak reviews but Shooter is coming out on top with 37% positive compared to 24% positive for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. On the other hand, TMNT is opening in more theaters, 3,110 to 2,806. If either film had the opening weekend to themselves, or with another film aimed at a totally different target audience, they could have reached $30 million. Now they will have to settle for around $20 million, with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles finishing just above and Shooter finishing just below.

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300 makes it charge towards $200 million. Last weekend the film dropped roughly than 54% but hopefully this weekend it should perform somewhat better. If it can avoid 50% it would be left with $16.5 million, giving it a running tally of just under $160 million. Even with the massive competition, this should be within reach, but the film will still need a bit of a boost to hit $200 million before it leaves theaters.

Wild Hogs should come in fourth with an estimated $12 million. The film has already hit $100 million and there's little shot of it reaching any other significant milestone during the rest of its run. But it has already paid for its production budget and should show a profit relatively soon.

There are two wide releases battling for fifth place, The Last Mimzy and The Hills Have Eyes 2. Unlike the two films battling for first place, there's no crossover audience between these two films; on the other hand, these two films will have to fight other films for moviegoers' attention.

Of those two, The Hills Have Eyes 2 appears to be tracking in at the better opening, which is not surprising since it is the easier film to advertise. However, even with the built in audience thanks to the original from 2006 and the original's original from 1977, it will still struggle at the box office. Quite frankly, it feels like an unnecessary sequel and while there are nearly no reviews, when then do come in they will likely back this up. Tracking has The Hills Have Eyes 2 coming in at $11 million over the weekend, substantially lower than the nearly $16 million its predecessor opened with, and it probably won't have as strong legs, leaving the film with under $25 million in total. That's probably enough to show a profit after taking into account the Unrated DVD, but low enough to kill the franchise.

Next up is The Last Mimzy, the widest release of the week, and one of the better reviewed. On the other hand, it is arguably the hardest film to advertise as it doesn't have a clear cut demographic. It could be called a Sci-Fi kids movie, which isn't exactly unique, but the two target demographics don't have a lot of overlap. Perhaps the film can attract families who want to see a kids movie without the violence of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and in that way have a similar run as Bridge to Terabithia, but it is tracking much lower than that film. In fact, it might not open with $10 million over the weekend; I think it will crack 8 digits, but it will be close.

The next wide release is Reign Over Me, which I'm betting will do better than its tracking suggests. The ads have been surprisingly effective and the reviews are clearly the best of the week. On the other hand, the theater count is low at just 1,671 and it is an Adam Sandler drama, both of which will hurt it at the box office. The last Sandler drama was Spanglish, which opened in third place with nearly $9 million a couple of years ago. That is higher than this film is tracking and likely out of reach, but I see it coming closer than most expect and will make just under $8 million.

Finally we have Pride, the latest inspirational coach movie based on real life events. With the 70s urban feel, it could be an easy sell to its target demographic, however swimming is not a popular sport and that will be a drag on the film. With critics evenly split, the film could have reasonable word-of-mouth, but there are just not enough swimming fans out there for the film to start in the top five. Give it a lower spot in the top ten with an opening of $6 million.


Filed under: Wild Hogs, TMNT, Shooter, The Last Mimzy, The Hills Have Eyes II, Reign Over Me, Pride, 300