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Ratatouille Leaves the Box Office Wanting a Little More

July 2nd, 2007

There was some good news over the weekend; the mini-slump ended as the overall box office pulled in $156 million, 1% over the same weekend last year. That's not a big increase, in fact, it is below ticket price inflation, but that's still something to celebrate and focusing on the good news is good for business.

The opening weekend for Ratatouille was mixed as it topped the charts with $47.0 million. Finishing first is good news, but the dollar amount was substantially lower than expected. (In fact, Live Free or Die Hard earned more than it, if you take the midweek numbers into account.) It was also the lowest opening for a Pixar since A Bug's Life, (if you count the wide opening and not the prestige opening that took place the weekend before). Back to the good news, it was the fifth biggest opening for a G-rated movie of all time. Also, given the target audience and the best reviews for a wide release this year, it should have strong legs reaching profitability sometime during its international run. But even so, I can't help but think the people at Pixar are disappointed with this result. Or frustrated. They produced arguably the best film of the year, but five other movies opened bigger at the box office.

Word-of-mouth started to build for Live Free or Die Hard as its weekend numbers were on the high end of Thursday's expectations. The film finished in second place with $33.4 million over the weekend and $48.4 million since Wednesday. Even with direct competition, the film should ride its positive reviews, and the strong word-of-mouth they should generate, to $100 million and beyond. At the moment, Die Hard 2 and its $117.3 million box office should fall making Live Free or Die Hard the highest grossing film in the franchise.

Evan Almighty held better than some were expecting given the film's reviews, but a greater than 50% drop-off to $15.1 million is still troubling given the film's production budget. Then again, it would have been nearly impossible for the film to not have a troubling drop-off with a $175 million production budget and a $31.2 million opening. The film does have $60.7 million so far and should hit $100 million, or at least come close enough for the studio to give it a little push. Whether or not they will depends on if they think getting to that milestone is more important than recouping its costs.

1408 showed that even a genre with historically short leg can perform if it is well done. The film lost less than half of its opening to score fourth place with $10.7 million over the weekend and $40.4 million in total. The film has already surpassed its production budget and should quickly become John Cusack's biggest hit since America's Sweethearts. On a side note, John Cusack is less than $2 million from hitting $1 billion for his career, which is a remarkable feat and one that should get him roles in bigger movies than he usually does.

As expected, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer fell to fifth place with $9.1 million. This lifts its running tally to $114.9 million and it too should have no trouble matching its production budget shortly. How fast it breaks even depends on how well it does internationally with the early numbers being promising.

How someone judges Sicko's opening depends a lot on their expectations. Compared to most documentaries, Sicko's ninth place, $4.5 million debut on 441 screens was fantastic and the fourth highest opening for a documentary ever. On the other hand, it was just a fraction of what Fahrenheit 9/11 brought in three years ago. Given its per theater average and its reviews, it should be able to expand someone and join the very thin ranks of documentaries able to crack $20 million at the box office. Some will call this a flop, but most who do probably have a politcal motive.

Rounding out the top ten was Evening, which earned $3.5 million. This was slightly better than Thursday expectations, but not by enough for the film to expand. In fact, with terrible reviews it could lose a few theaters this weekend and have a major collapse the weekend after.

Moving onto the sophomore class, there was only one member, A Mighty Heart, which fell nearly 60% to $1.6 million over the weekend and $7.0 million in total. Even its low production budget won't save it now.

One last note, The Transformers is opening later tonight with first showings beginning at 8 p.m. (Check your local listings for details.) We will have predictions up tomorrow, (and possibly early box office numbers), while our contest continues till Friday.


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