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Rushing to the Exits

August 9th, 2007

I think it is safe to say that this weekend is the unofficial end of summer. After the release of Rush Hour 3, there's not a single film that has a serious shot at $100 million till October... maybe November. However, while everyone expects Rush Hour 3 to open in first place, I have my doubts as to how big that opening will be.

Rush Hour 3 is the sixth trilogy release this year. However, with the exception of Ocean's Thirteen, it has the weakest box office potential. Part of the problem has to do with the delay between parts two and three. It has been six years since Rush Hour 2 came out, and that's a long time between installments. Since then, Jacki Chan has starred in four movies, not one of which lived up to initial expectations, and none of which have come out in the past three years. On the other hand, Chris Tucker hasn't starred in a non-Rush Hour movie since the franchise began. In the nine years since Rush Hour was released, the box office drawing power of the two men has gone down and not up. To make matters worse, the weak buzz has been accompanied by terrible reviews. Rush Hour 3 is tracking for an opening in the $60 to $65 million range, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it earn $40 to $45 million instead. There's something about this movie that suggests it missed its window and that the studio was pushing their luck when they made it. Let's go with a prediction of $50 million, but I admit there's a lot of uncertainty here.

The Bourne franchise has a history of better-than-expected legs. Even The Bourne Supremacy was able to avoid being inflicted by Sequelitis, ending its run with a multiplier of 3.35. However, this run appears to be over. The Bourne Ultimatum has shown some weakness at the box office during the week, with the film losing 18.24% of its box office on Tuesday, which is not that much better than The Simpsons Movie's drop-off of 19.14% and that film fell 66.08% during its second weekend of release. I don't think The Bourne Ultimatum will fall that far as it did recover somewhat on Wednesday falling less than 10%, but a 60% drop-off is likely. Sadly. That would leave the film with just under $28 million this weekend and about $128 million in total. Even with some of the best reviews of the year, it won't live up to its $200 million potential.

The Simpsons Movie looks to bounce back this week... or at least not completely collapse again. After dropping 66% last weekend, anything close to a 50% drop-off this weekend will be seen as a victory, but given its midweek numbers I think 55% is more likely. That would leave it with just under $14 million for the weekend and $155 million in total. Still a very good number, but a lot lower than expected given its nearly $75 million opening.

The second wide release of the week is Stardust, a project that was likely saddled with an August release date due to anticipated difficulties in marketing the film. Fantasy films can be hard to market, especially if they are based on a source that is not particularly well known. Fortunately, while the marketing is unsure, the product is solid, more than solid as 84% positive means it has some of the best reviews of the summer. However, as we've seen in the past, good reviews do not guarantee strong openings and Stardust will likely have to settle for fourth place with $13 million. Even if it has better than expected legs, it will probably have to wait till the home market before it finds the wider audience it deserves.

A slow start plus awful reviews should result in a steep drop-off for Underdog. However, even a nearly 50% drop-off to just $6 million will be enough to land in fifth place thanks to weak competition, but this should not be seen as a triumph for the film.

Next up is Daddy Day Camp, which I've heard described as, "Proof we are alone in a cold, cruel universe." That may seem harsh, but the reviews aren't making a compelling counter-argument. Add in the issue of making a sequel with none of the stars of the original and this seems like a huge mistake. Best case scenario has the film grabbing a spot in the top five with $7 million, but I can see it earning half that and missing the top ten. Odds are it will open with roughly $6 million and finish with less than $20 million.

Moving even further down the list is Skinwalkers, which is only opening in 737 theaters and is not being screened for critics. It will not make the top ten, it might not even earn $1 million, and this time next week most people will have forgotten it was even released.


Filed under: The Bourne Ultimatum, The Simpsons Movie, Rush Hour 3, Underdog, Stardust, Daddy Day Camp, Skinwalkers