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Who Will Own the Weekend?

October 11th, 2007

September continues. At least it feels that way at the box office. No one film seems destined for box office glory. For that matter, no film is opening in 2,500 or more theaters, although one film, Michael Clayton is expanding that wide. Without one powerhouse film, there's a wide-open race for first place with three films in the running. At least that should keep people interested in the numbers.

Michael Clayton is not only the widest expansion / release, but it is also the only such film to earn overwhelmingly positive reviews. In fact, 88% positive is in Oscar-worthy territory, which is obviously where this film is aimed. As I've said in the past, you can't vote for a film unless you've seen the film and a first place finish this weekend would go along way in ensuring a lot of award voters see it. The film seems to have everything going for it. Not only is it the widest release, not only is it earning the best reviews, but it also has impressive star power and an effective ad campaign. I see it pulling in an average of $5,000 to $6,000 per theater, which would give it $12.5 million to $15 million over the weekend. This is more than most analysts are expecting, but I think the general weakness in the overall box office will help this film immensely.

We Own the Night is the only other wide release this week with serious star power. Joaquin Phoenix's last film was the Oscar-winning Walk the Line, but that opened two years ago. Conversely, Mark Wahlberg has made four movies in that time, but only The Departed received Oscar attention. So far, We Own the Night has earned just over 50% positive reviews; hardly exciting, but more than most movies are earning this weekend. Given the past performances of these two actors, one could expect a $20 million opening. However, it is tracking for about $13 million, which could be enough for first place.

The final film that has a shot at top spot is Why Did I Get Married? The film is opening in less than 2,000 theaters and with no reviews, which would normally indicate a terrible opening. However, so far Tyler Perry movies have nearly been immune to the adverse effects of low theater counts and bad reviews. That was until Daddy's Little Girls, which opened with $11.20 million while finishing with $31.37 million. Buzz has this one bouncing back, perhaps earning first place with $15 million or so. However, third place with $12 million is probably more likely. This is more than enough to ensure a profit sometime during its initial push into the home market.

Heavy competition will push The Game Plan into fourth place with an expected $10 million. This would give it close to $60 million during its run, which is just above initial expectations and just below the upper level of budgetary expectations.

After a disappointing start, The Heartbreak Kid hopes not to collapse this weekend, but that appears to be where it's heading. Conservative estimates have the film falling 40% to $8.5 million, but 50% is just as likely and that would give the film $7 million over the weekend. It should finish nearer the top end, landing in the final spot in the top five.

The next wide release is Elizabeth: The Golden Age, which is opening in just under 2,000 theaters. This wouldn't be a terrible weakness but the film's reviews are. As a costume drama, the film's target demographic is on the mature side and a lot more likely to read and trust reviewers. This will be nearly fatal for the film and it might not even reach the top five but it will be close with between $7 million and $8 million.

Finally we get to The Final Season, but it is not a sure thing that the film will reach the top ten during its opening. Its reviews are very weak and its theater count is barely over 1,000. Add in a insignificant ad campaign and the film is only tracking to earn roughly $2 million, which may or may not be enough to reach the top ten.

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Filed under: The Game Plan, Why Did I Get Married?, Michael Clayton, The Heartbreak Kid, We Own the Night, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Final Season