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Can a $150 million Opening Weekend Really be a Disappointment?

May 29th, 2007

The Memorial Weekend was one of the biggest weekends of all time, pulling in a combined $193 million. Yet, for many, it will be looked at as a disappointment. In fact, the whole month of May has been like that as, while it will go down as one of the most lucrative months of all time, it will still be remembered by some for not reaching expectations.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End was able to break some records, but not the biggest weekend as some were expecting. In fact, its three day total of $114.7 million was the weakest of the three monster hits released this month, and just below the $114.8 million the original Spider-Man earned back in 2002. There were some mitigating circumstances here. For instance, the film did earn $13.2 million in late-night Thursday showings and if you add in Monday it took in $153.0 million. However, one has to consider the possibility of Pirate overload while the middling reviews didn't help.

That said, the film did break a few records include widest opening at 4,362 and biggest Memorial Day weekend, both three-day and four-day.

Where does the film go from here? Well, assuming a worldwide P&A budget of $100 million, which is probably on the high side, then the movie may have already sailed into profitable waters. Even if it hasn't, it will by this time next weekend. However, domestically, it might not top $400 million, while worldwide it could still reach $1 billion. There is little doubt in my mind that they will be making a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film. That said, it could be a couple of years before that happens, and it could take a rather different form. (Such as a prequel, meaning Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, among others, may not return.)

Like many trilogies, Shrek the Third is proving good things don't always come in threes. After a stronger than expected opening last weekend, the film tumbled this weekend, down 56% to $53.0 million during the three-day portion of the weekend. It did have a better than average Monday thanks to the holiday, but its 4-day total of $67.0 million was lower than some analysts expected it would earn over three days. It did top $200 million on Sunday, reaching that mark in just 10 days, but that is below Spider-man 3's pace. (Comparing it to Shrek 2 is problematic as that film opened on a Wednesday. It did take one additional day to crack $200 million, but that feat was accomplished on the Saturday.) The movie should have little difficulty hitting $300 million, but $400 million is likely out of reach at this point.

Speaking of $300 million, Spider-man 3 reached that milestone over the weekend after bringing in $14.3 million / $18.1 million. This was within a rounding error of Thursday's prediction and helped the film tie Return of the King for sixth place on the Fastest to $300 million chart. At this pace, $400 million is impossible, but at least the franchise as earned $1 billion domestically and should reach $2.5 billion worldwide.

Well back in fourth place was Bug, which benefited from an extremely weak group of counter-programming movies. Over the weekend, it was able to earn $3.2 million / $4.0 million, but with a weak per theater average and mixed reviews, it won't last in theaters very long.

That won't be true for our fifth place film, Waitress, which earned $3.1 million / $4.0 million in just 510 theaters. The film has now pulled in $6.5 million in total and should surpass Nathan Fillion's previous film before long. It will be interesting to watch to see how many milestones the film can cross, but with a per theater average of $6,031 over three days, there is plenty of room to expand.


Filed under: Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Waitress, Bug