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Holdovers and New Releases go to War

August 24th, 2007

As the summer ends, there is a rush to dump failed projects on the market. This weekend there are five films opening up in various degrees of wide release from a few hundred to a couple of thousand. However, while there's a lot of competition, Superbad has the inside track to repeat on top.

Superbad had an amazing opening weekend. Not only did it crush expectations, it also showed amazing legs, including falling just 1.73% on Sunday and an equally impressive decline of 46.97% on Monday. At this pace, the film was looking at a final box office of $175 million, or more. But that ended on Tuesday when it fell 12.67% and then it fell 18.96% on Wednesday. Now some are thinking that it might not reach $100 million. With its strong reviews and weak, weak competition, avoiding a 50% decline shouldn't be a problem. However, the sharp drop-off during the past couple days makes me concerned. Should it fall to $15 million or less, we could be in trouble. $20 million or more and we're home free. Given the midweek numbers, the lower end is slightly more likely, but the track record of Judd Apatow films suggests the upper number is possible, or even an underestimate. I'm going with a prediction of $18 million.

Jet Li and Jason Statham team up for War. This isn't the first time they've work together, but the advertising is certainly playing up that angle more than it was for The One. As for the reviews, that are mostly immaterial, which is good, because we are not getting any. I suspect after the weekend its Tomatometer score will be in the 20s. As for the film's box office chances, there's a pattern developing as for both men, two of their last three films opened with between $10 and $11 million, which seems to be where this film is heading as well. This may or may not be enough for second place, but it will be awfully close.

Next up is The Bourne Ultimatum and Rush Hour 3, both of which are tracking for nearly $10 million. At the moment, Rush Hour 3 is slightly ahead at the daily box office, but it is also losing a serious chunk of theaters this weekend and that will likely leave it in fourth place.

The Nanny Diaries should open in fifth place with about $9 million. This is less than I expected earlier in the month, but better that I thought it would do earlier in the week. At the beginning of the month I was expecting the film to do rather well, but I was also expecting it to earn better than 27% positive reviews. Then again, earlier in the week I thought it was opening in 1,800 theaters and it is opening in 2,629 instead. With a very aggressive ad campaign it could surprise, but the film's target audience tends to check out advance reviews and that will hurt the film at the box office. Perhaps it will get as high as second place with $13 million or so, but fifth place with $9 million seems more likely.

Next up is Mr. Bean's Holiday, which is one of the biggest hits of the year on the international scene and has earned nearly $190 million so far. It will be lucky to earn 10% of that here. It's not that it's a bad movie, and at 48% positive reviews, it's better than most August releases earn. The ad campaign is also more aggressive than I was expecting, at least up here in Canada where Bean is more popular that he is in the States. So while the film might crack the top five up here, $6 million is probably the most it can expect to take in over the weekend.

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The fourth wide release of the week is also the only one to earn impressive reviews. Resurrecting the Champ is pulling in 69% positive, which should be enough to generate word-of-mouth. Unfortunately, with an anemic ad campaign, it could have trouble during its opening weekend and with a low per theater count it will be out of theaters before word has time to spread. Perhaps it will find a bigger audience on the home market, but in theaters it will open with about $4 million.

Moving further down the list, we get to Illegal Tender, which is opening in just over 500 theaters but still has a fair shot at reaching the top ten. The film is looking to score with the Hispanic market the same way films like Waist Deep scored with the Urban market. The Hispanic film market hasn't built up as much as the Urban market is, but it could still surprise, perhaps taking in as much $10,000 per theater. That would give it a place in the top ten with $5 million. Others are betting it will flop with a million or less. Splitting the difference gives the film $2.5 million, which will probably leave it in 12th place.

Finally we get to September Dawn. Mormon cinema is in a bit of a downturn at the moment and trying to sell a movie about Mormon terrorism to a wider audience seems like a huge risk. This risk would be mitigated if the film was opening in just a few theaters and had a chance to build up some word-of-mouth, but the film is debuting in 857 theaters with almost not advanced buzz and terrible reviews. I can see the film opening with less than a $1,000 per theater average and that would give it a total of about $750,000.

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Filed under: The Bourne Ultimatum, Rush Hour 3, Superbad, Mr. Bean's Holiday, The Nanny Diaries, War, Resurrecting the Champ, Illegal Tender, September Dawn