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Will March Go Out Like a Lamb?

March 29th, 2007

March started like a lion when Wild Hogs opened to nearly $40 million and was even more ferocious the weekend after that when 300 broke records. It is folklore that if March starts like a lion, it ends like a lamb. So what does this mean for this week's box office? Nothing, it's just folklore. The box office looks very vigorous this weekend with two top-tier releases opening at saturation level (3,000 or more theaters). As an added bonus, both films are aimed at different target demographics, so both could be big hits.

Both Blades of Glory and Meet the Robinsons are tracking with nearly identical interest from moviegoers, but Blades of Glory has a serious advantage over Meet the Robinsons: fewer kids. Since kids pay less to get into movies, and can't stay up as late, G-rated rated movies don't make as much buck for the bang, so to speak. In this case, it could be the difference between finishing above $30 million or not. Blades of Glory seems to have that benchmark solidly in its sights with a strong ad campaign, widespread awareness, and better than expected reviews. Not only is 67% positive well above the overall positive level, it is better than the career averages of both Will Ferrell and Jon Heder. Speaking of Jon Heder, is he still in this movie? I ask because you almost never see him in any of the ads. You see more of Will Arnett than him, and he's a supporting character. Regardless, the film is tracking between $30 and $35 million with the high end more likely than the low end. Let's go with $34 million for a prediction.

Meet the Robinsons has a little more work cut out for it to reach $30 million, but it should still make it. At first glance, $30 million is a huge amount, but nothing compared to the nearly $70 million Ice Age: The Meltdown made during the same weekend last year. This film is actually earning better reviews than Ice Age did, but the marketing hasn't been able to reach as wide an audience. The problem is that the film is being seen as a kids movie, which is a fair description, but will hurt the opening box office somewhat since it won't draw in as many adult digital animation enthusiasts. I still think it will crack $30 million, but it could be close. Give it an opening weekend prediction of $31 million.

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Third place will either go to TMNT or 300, depending on two factors. Firstly, how much will the Fanboy Effect hurt the former and how much the theater count drop-off hurts the latter. If those factors balance out, they could both earn $12 million over the weekend. However, TMNT is a bigger wildcard and could earn anywhere from $15 to $10 million. That said, TMNT has the slight edge and should take third with $13 million compared to 300's $12 million.

There will also be a close battle for fifth place, this time between Shooter and Wild Hogs. The same factors as above will be in effect here. Shooter has to deal with the sophomore slump while Wild Hogs is seeing its theater count drop. Both films should earn between $8 and $9 million, but I'm giving Wild Hogs the slight edge here.

While there are two top-tier releases opening tomorrow, they aren't the only films making noise. The first of these other films is The Lookout. This is the best reviewed wide release of the week, or at least it would be if its theater count wasn't sub-1,000. The film only needs to take in more than $4 million to reach the top ten and that should be doable even given its theater count. It could come pretty close, but $3 million and a place just out of the top ten is the most likely scenario. This is a real shame since a wider release and a good marketing push could have helped the film challenge for a spot in the top five.

The final film of note this week isn't a new release, but a re-release. Peaceful Warrior is returning to theaters after taking in just over $1 million during its limited release. This time it is playing in just over 600 theaters and the tickets are free. That's right, the studio and Best Buy are giving away up to $15 million in free tickets to see this movie in order to ignite word-of-mouth. However, given the film's reviews, this is probably a bad idea and a traditional ad campaign instead would have been the wiser move. But we'll see if this experiment was a success relatively soon.

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Filed under: Wild Hogs, Blades of Glory, Meet the Robinsons, TMNT, Shooter, The Lookout, Peaceful Warrior, 300