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Will Rat Power Push Pixar to the Top?

June 28th, 2007

The mini-slump of 2007 threatens to become the dominant story if things don't change soon. This week there are a two wide releases hoping to prop up the box office numbers, as well as two other films opening or expanding semi-wide. None look like they will set records during their opening weekends, but Ratatouille should outperform Superman Returns, and that's good news.

Ratatouille looks to help Pixar rebound from the mildly disappointing performance of Cars. So far, it looks like it will have little difficulty, at least with the critics -- the film is performing amazingly, earning 88% positive and that is well ahead of the 76% positive earn by the previous film. In fact, it is sitting within striking distnace of Knocked Up's 92% positive for the best reviews of year for a wide release.

However important reviews may be, it is its performance at the box office where most people are interested. There are three films that Ratatouille will be looking to top over the weekend: Superman Returns, Cars, and The Incredibles. If the film can earn more than $52.5 million over the weekend, it will have opened better than Superman Returns, meaning it will have done its part to snap the slump. If it can surpass $60.1 million, then it will have edged out Cars, which is the first step in showing real recovery at the box office. And if it can top $70.5 million, it will become the fastest opening Pixar film of all time. Superman Returns's opening seems like an easy target given the buzz, but Cars is not. Ratatouille it tracking right at $60 million, which means it could earn $57 - $63 million without being considered an unusual opening. Since it is a G-rated movie, and their appeal is generally underestimated by tracking, I think the film will improve upon Cars' debut. On the other hand, The Incredibles' opening is likely safe. It could surprise analysts are earn $75 million, or more, but I wouldn't wager money on that.

Instead, look for $62 million over the weekend, $265 million domestically, and $700 million worldwide.

Agree? Disagree? Want to know what's in the Soup de Jour? (Trust me, you don't). Then check out our latest box office contest.

Live Free or Die Hard lived up to part of its name Wednesday opening with just $9.1 million. Good news -- that was more than enough to put it in first place yesterday. Bad news -- that's not considerably more than Die Hard with a Vengeance earned during its opening day 12 years ago. In fact, it is merely in line with Die Hard 2's total after its first full day of release. The studio is hoping strong word-of-mouth will help it over the weekend, but that might not be in the works. Best case scenario has the film relatively flat tonight, and still pulling in $35 million over the weekend. Worst case is a big drop-off and $20 million over the weekend. The good reviews and the lack of direct competition among the new releases suggests the latter is a little more likely giving it $30 million from Friday to Sunday.

The studio is praying that Evan Almighty will recover this weekend and earlier they suggested it would be able to hold strong during its sophomore stint. Granted, its midweek numbers haven't been bad compared to the rest of the top five, which may indicated a schism between moviegoers and critics with regards to the merits of the picture. Or it could be a simple case of a younger demographic helping to inflate midweek numbers thanks to the summer holidays. Or it could be a combination of the two. Look for a 50% drop-off this weekend, down to just under $16 million for a 10-day total of $58 million.

1408 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer should be in a murderously close battle for fourth place this weekend. 1408 has had the lead so far, but its genre is not known for strong legs, even with strong reviews. However, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer collapsed last weekend and even a recovery this weekend will leave it 50% lower that last. Look for the films to finish within a rounding error of each other with 1408 just over $10 million and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer just under. On a side note, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer crossed $100 million this week, making it the ninth film of the year to do so.

Next up is Sicko, which opened in one theater last weekend and is expanding this Friday. However, it is only playing in just over 400 theaters and this will prevent it from reaching the top five. On the other hand, given its reviews it should still crack $10,000 per theater giving it roughly $5 million over the weekend and room to expand. This is not a record-setting pace and this might cause a lot of people with a politcal axe to grind to call it a failure because of that, but this would be grossly unfair.

Finally we get to Evening, which will be opening wide this weekend. Kind of. It will make its debut in less than 1,000 theaters, which is much higher than it was originally scheduled for, but not high enough to be considered truly wide. This wider release is not exactly great news for the movie. First of all, the ad campaign hasn't kept up meaning a lot of people who would be interested in the movie won't know its opening in their town this week. This will result in a low per theater average, which in turn will lead to short legs. Perhaps if the film's reviews were better it might earn positive word-of-mouth to counteract these issues, but that seems unlikely now.


Filed under: Ratatouille, Live Free or Die Hard, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Evan Almighty, Sicko, Evening, 1408