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First Weekend in November is Buzzing

November 1st, 2007

Thankfully October is done, but it did a lot of damage in four weeks. However, the damage has been done and the fall box office is down just under 1% from last year while ticket sales are down more than 5%. However, this weekend we have two potential $100 million movies and both should be significantly stronger than last year's surprise champ, Borat.

The best bet to top the charts this weekend is Bee Movie, which marks the first time Jerry Seinfeld is the lead in a theatrical release. Granted, he's just doing voice work, and this seems to help the transition for stand up comics turned TV stars when they try their hand at movies. Just ask Ray Ramano. While big name voice talent rarely boosts a film's box office numbers, his name could draw some interest from fans of his TV series, many of which have kids who are in the target demographic for this movie. On the other hand, the digital animation market is still soft after last year's overload, and while the average box office for these films has improved over the previous year it still seems unlikely Bee Movie will reach the same level as other fall releases like Shark Tale. It is earning better reviews than that film did, but it still can't seem to reach 50% positive. Fortunately kids don't read reviews so this will have little effect on the film's opening weekend, giving it a first place debut with $40 million. On the other hand, over the next few weekends when direct competition opens up, it will fall faster than it otherwise would. Look for a first place finish and $40 million over the weekend with a final total of $125 million.

The only film with a chance at topping Bee Movie is American Gangster. The film is tracking very strongly, especially in urban areas, and will challenge the digitally animated family film for top spot. Almost everyone believes the film will become Denzel Washington's biggest hit, outperforming Inside Man, which earned just under $29 million in 2006, while if the latest tracking information is correct, its opening could top $40 million. I think $40 million is a little generous, but $35 million is not. And with some of the best reviews we've seen all fall, the film will have no trouble reaching $100 million during its run and could be a contender come Oscar night.

Every year there's a new Saw movie, and every year its starts out faster but falls quicker. This time around Saw IV was only able to maintain its franchise-best start for one day and by the time the weekend ended it was behind Saw III's pace. The midweek numbers were no better and the film didn't earn as big of a boost on Halloween. Add in the terrible reviews and a 60% drop-off seems inevitable. That would leave the film with under $13 million for its second weekend of release, and just over $53 million after 10 days.

On the other hand, after a stronger-than-expected start, Dan in Real Life should have a much better week-to-week hold. Odds are it will fall 40% or less, giving the film just over $7 million for the weekend, which is not that far off last week's prediction. It still means the film is on pace to earn less than original expectations, but it could come respectably close.

The final film in the top five is the third wide release of the week, The Martian Child. Reviews, which looked like they could reach 50% positive, have weakened considerably as so has its box office chances. Maybe if the advertising was stronger, it could challenge for third place, but it is clear the studio doesn't have a whole lot of faith in the movie and it will have to settle for fifth place with $6 million.


Filed under: Bee Movie, Saw IV, Dan in Real Life, The Martian Child, American Gangster