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Will a New Release find a Vacancy on Top of the Charts?

April 19th, 2007

Another week, another batch of new movies that are hoping to find a spot in the top ten. While there are four wide - or wide-ish - releases, none are tracking with any real strength and there's a good chance Disturbia will be a repeat winner this weekend. However, two newcomers, Fracture and Vacancy, stand a catch of stealing first. All three films are so evenly matched, we might not know the winner until the final numbers are released on Monday.

After a surprise first place debut last weekend, Disturbia looks to repeat on top of the charts and there are a few things going for it. For instance, the strong reviews suggest good word-of-mouth and possibly high repeat business. Also, the competition is a little weak (although one of the new releases, Fracture, does have a lot of the same target demographic). The film is tracking in the low teens, which is still better than any of the new openers, but one almost has to assume that one of those two films will be able to break out and take top spot. I'm going to make a very strange prediction here; I'm predicting the film will earn between $12 and $13 million, which is higher than my predictions for any other film on this week's list, but I'm still going to predict Disturbia will finish in second place.

Vacancy has the best shot at winning the box office race, but it also has the best shot at stumbling badly. To make matters worse, all the indicators are giving contradictory signals. Its theater count isn't impressive at just 2,551, but its reviews are significantly better than expected. Neither lead has a reputation for being able to generate significant box office, but its ad campaign has been the most aggressive of the new releases. Best case scenario has the film coming in first with $15 million or more. Worst case has it missing the top five with less than half that. Most likely is third place with just under $12 million.

Of the three films with a legitimate shot at top spot, Fracture is tracking the lowest, but I see it as the one to beat. One key factor is the cast; the film has one of the best up-and-coming actors in Ryan Gosling and one of the best established actors in Anthony Hopkins. The film has also earned overwhelmingly positive reviews and an ad campaign that I would consider very effective, if a little less aggressive than I had anticipated. All indicators suggest the film will finish third with $10 to $11 million, and that's the safest bet and my prediction. But there's something in the back of my mind that says it will finish number one with $13 million.

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There will be a close battle for fourth with Blades of Glory and Meet the Robinsons both tracking at roughly $9 million. $9 million for Blades of Glory would be more than enough to give the film $100 million for the year, making it the fourth such film to reach that milestone so far. As for Meet the Robinsons, $9 million would give it a running tally of $83 million and would maintain its $100 million pace. Meet the Robinsons has the slight edge this weekend, but both have a shot at fourth.

The next new release is hardly opening wide, but it has the potential to surprise. Hot Fuzz is opening in more theaters than earlier anticipated, but 825 is still below almost everyone's definition of wide. That said, there may be some wisdom in this move as the movie might be a little too British for mainstream success. It couldn't fill 3,000 theaters, or even 2,000 theaters. With 825, it could have a large enough per theater average to entice theater owners to keep the film longer than a couple of weeks. Also, since the film is earning some of the best reviews of the year, its word of mouth should be amazing. The best case scenario has the film earning better than $10 million and challenging for the top three, but if the advertising campaign wasn't compelling enough, then it could miss the top ten. I'm betting it will come closer to the former than the latter and earn just over $8 million over the weekend for a per theater average of $10,000.

The last wide release is In the Land of Women, but this film will likely struggle. The theater count is barely more than 2,000, the drawing power of the main cast is practically non-existent, and the reviews are the weakest out of all of the new releases on this week's list. Had the ad campaign been impressive, all of this wouldn't matter. Here's where things get confusing. The ad campaign hasn't been exactly overwhelming, but it has had a MySpace presence for quite some time and while I hate the style of these sites, I will admit it does have a good track record selling films to the young female demographic. Logic says it will finish the weekend with under $6 million, but I'm going with my gut and predicting just under $8 million.

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Filed under: Blades of Glory, Meet the Robinsons, Disturbia, Fracture, Hot Fuzz, Vacancy, In the Land of Women