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April Ends with an Ugh

May 1st, 2007

Wow. That was one of the worst weekends I can remember. There was almost nothing worth celebrating as the overall box office dipped by 12% from last weekend to $78 million. That's nearly 24% lower than the same weekend last year and probably the worst weekend in more than a year. (We'll have more details on that when the box office chart is certified later this week.) The only silver lining I can think of is a possible reason for this massive dip. In my opinion, a lot of people who thought about going to the movies this weekend likely said, "Let's wait a week and catch Spider-man 3 instead." I can't prove this happened, but this time next weekend if Spider-man 3 has broken records, we'll know that it is a likely scenario.

Disturbia became the first movie this year to threepeat on top of the charts as it pulled in a better than expected $9.0 million over the weekend. On the one hand, winning the box office race three weekends in a row is tough to do no matter what and the studio should be happy. On the other hand, it was the lowest grossing film to top the chart since Jet Li's Hero did it back in September of 2004 with $8.8 million. At this pace, even if the film disappears next weekend under the pressure of Spider-man 3 and it cost on the high end of expectations, it will still show a profit after the film's initial push into the home market.

There will be a lot of people trying to figure out why all four new releases bombed this weekend. While the upcoming release of Spider-man 3 undoubtedly has an impact, the overall quality of the four new releases also had a lot to do with what went down. The best of these new releases was The Invisible, which opened with just $7.7 million. Even worse, it managed only 23% positive reviews. With a per theater average of less than $4,000, theater owners will be looking to dump this film as soon as possible and by the time Shrek the Third opens, it will be just a memory.

Next finished just behind with $7.1 million. Good news, it was the best-reviewed wide release of the week. Bad news, it only got a Tomatometer reading of 28% positive. Ugly news, it was the widest release of the week and it earned a per theater average of less than $3,000. I don't think Next was a cheap movie to make and there's little hope that it will ever recover what it cost to make & advertise.

Fracture matched expectations nearly perfectly this weekend, adding $6.8 million to its $21.1 million running tally. However, thanks to weaker than expected competition, it was able to finish a higher on the charts. The film will have trouble matching original expectations, but with reviews that are well above most of its competition and a slightly older target demographic, it could come close enough to call its run a victory.

In a total surprise, Blades of Glory was able to spend its fifth weekend in the top five after collecting $5.2 million. The film has now made $108.1 million in a month of release and closing in on Ghost Rider for third place on the annual chart.

Looking over the other new releases, we have to go down the charts to ninth place to get to The Condemned as that film earned less than half of expectations with just $3.8 million over the weekend. Given its pitiful reviews and a per theater average of just $1,648, it won't earn as much over its entire run as it was expected to earn during its opening weekend. This is three flops in a row for WWE Films and some might suggest they should focus on their core business instead of trying to conquer movie theaters.

As bad as The Condemned did, it was a blockbuster compared to the last wide release of the week, Kickin' It Old Skool. Kickin' had the smallest theater count and the weakest reviews of the four wide releases, so it's no big surprise it earned the least at the box office. While very few people expected the film to be a hit, earning just $2.5 million and placing 12th was still a shock. Looking for good news for this film and I really can't find any. Even if the film cost less than $20 million to make and the same to advertise, it has almost no chance to make a profit.

There were three residents in the sophomore class this weekend (not counting the one that repeated in the top five). The best of these was Hot Fuzz, which expanded by more than 400 theaters on its way to a $4.9 million weekend. The film has already earned $12.6 million, which is almost as much as the previous Wright / Pegg / Frost film earned in total. Vacancy fell to eighth place with $4.1 million over the weekend and $13.8 million in total. Its 46% week-to-week drop-off was only slightly worse than the 44% suffered by In the Land of Women. That film was pushed out of the top ten with $2.7 million over the weekend for a total of $8.6 million after 10 days.


Filed under: Blades of Glory, Disturbia, Fracture, Hot Fuzz, The Invisible, Vacancy, Next, In the Land of Women, The Condemned, Kickin It Old Skool