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The End of a Super Summer

August 16th, 2007

This weekend we will have the weakest number one film since at least June 22nd when Evan Almighty opened, and mostly likely since before the summer started. But there are still some interesting stories to follow and possibly the last $100 million film to open until November.

Even with no blockbusters, we could see a change on top this week with Superbad having the best shot at unseating the reigning champion, Rush Hour 3. The film is earning a lot of comparisons to The 40-Year Old Virgin, for obvious reasons including Seth Rogen, who wrote Superbad. Also like The 40-Year Old Virgin, this film is earning surprisingly good reviews. Watching the trailers, I always thought was a movie that could have gone either way; it could be the next instant classic, or it could really, really suck. Fortunately, it looks like it won't be the latter. Additionally, with the surprise success of Knocked Up, Seth Rogen is suddenly a very bankable star and even though he's only a supporting player on screen here, he will bring in moviegoers. I doubt it will match Knocked Up's $30 million, but it should top $25 million over the weekend, and if it has the same legs has other Judd Apatow projects (he's a producer here), $100 million isn't out of reach.

Rush Hour 3 has not been overly productive during the weekdays has it has seen its daily numbers drop from $5.2 million on Monday to $3.9 million on Wednesday, which is easily the worst performance out of the top ten. The only good news going into the weekend is the lack of direct competition and that could soften the blow somewhat. Still, I see it dropping below $20 million this weekend and while it will hit $100 million before long, it won't be able to match it production budget at the box office and could find it difficult to pay off its initial costs, even after taking into account international and home market numbers.

On the other hand, The Bourne Ultimatum's weekday numbers suggest a sub-50% drop-off, giving it $17, maybe $18 million, over the weekend. That would put its total at $162 million after 17 days and keep it on pace to reach $200 million in total.

The second new release of the week is The Invasion, a movie that probably seemed like a really good idea on paper but the end results are less than impressive. Not that anyone should be surprised, at least not those who have been paying attention to the film's long and arduous journey to theaters. Originally conceived as a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the film was set for a June 2006 release. But then the concept was modified slightly and the movie was renamed to just The Invasion. Then it was changed again to The Visiting. And then back to The Invasion. Then it was rewritten and there were extensive reshoots costing $10 million, or more. At this point, it is a minor miracle that the film is coming out at all, but the mid-August release date and the reviews suggest the trials did not make the movie stronger. That said, a Tomatometer reading of 17% positive, it isn't the worst reviewed movie of the month, it might not even be the worst reviewed movie of the week (The Last Legion doesn't have enough reviews for a score yet). And with the most star power of any of the new releases, and an ad campaign to match, it might surprise and challenge for first place (if Superbad stumbles). More likely, the film will make $13 million over the next three days before finishing its run with $35 million or so.

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There final film in the top five could be either The Simpsons Movie or Stardust, there's conflicting indicators at work here. The Simpsons Movie is still ahead of Stardust as of Wednesday, but it is also losing a few hundred theaters this weekend while Stardust is adding a couple dozen. Also, a lot of Stardust's weakness came from a marketing campaign that the studio admitted was ineffective. Actually, they admitted they didn't know how to market the movie. While this hurt the film's opening box office, it could mean the film's word-of-mouth will play a bigger role that it otherwise would. Even so, fifth place could be out of reach as The Simpsons Movie should earn just under $6 million while Stardust should take in just over $5 million.

The final wide release of the week is The Last Legion. This is a film that cost $67 million to make but has no shot at earning that much here, or perhaps even worldwide. I could see why the studio might think it's a marketing nightmare as most films set is a similar time period have done very poorly recently and this film doesn't have many big names to wrap a marketing campaign around. So the studio is trying a novel approach; they are not marketing the film. At least I haven't seen any ads. Even worse, the early word is terrible and any buzz the film does have is negative. Look for $4 million over the weekend and $10 million in total.


Filed under: The Bourne Ultimatum, The Simpsons Movie, Rush Hour 3, Superbad, Stardust, The Invasion, The Last Legion