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Will Mr. Magorium Be Wonderful or Will Beowulf Slay the Competition?

November 15th, 2007

It's looking like 2007 is going to end on a really soft note. Since mid-September, only one weekend has been above the same weekend last year, and there's almost no chance that things will turn around this weekend. This time last year, we had two $40 million openers. This weekend, we might not have a single film top $30 million.

Beowulf is one of the most expensive movies of the year with a production budget reported at of $150 million. It is also one of the more anticipated releases as it is the first digitally animated movie aimed at adults since Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and moviegoers and box office analysts alike are interested in seeing how this film works out. Critically, the film is earning very positive reviews, much better than the 43% positive reviews Final Fantasy managed, and there's talk that Beowulf could open with more than that film made in total. However, with a $150 million production budget, a $32 million opening might not be enough to show a profit anytime soon. On the other hand, it could fail to reach the same level of The Polar Express and go down as one of the most expensive misses of the year. Most likely Beowulf will pull in just over $30 million over the weekend, and thanks to its reviews and the holidays, it should cross $100 million before all is said and done.

Despite another family film opening in saturation levels this weekend, it will be a film in its third weekend of release that will be the best of the bunch. Bee Movie it tracking very well during the weekdays and should earn another $17 million over the weekend, which would give it $96 million in total. Thanks to the weaker direct competition, it will beat original expectations and hit as high as $150 million.

American Gangster had led the midweek box office since it was release and this has put it primed to cross $100 million over the weekend. By the end of tonight, it will have nearly $88 million while it should make $15 million over the weekend making it the 22nd $100 million hit of the year.

Fred Claus had a soft start and with direct competition and very poor reviews, it could have a rather steep drop-off this weekend. On the other hand, it is a family film and the competition is weak, both in terms of quality and in terms of promotion. These two forces should balance out, giving a 40% sophomore stint drop-off, which would leave it with just over $11 million for the weekend and under $35 million in total. While it will get a boost from the Thanksgiving long weekend, it will fall out of theaters before Christmas arrives.

The next wide release of the week is Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, which is opening in more than 3,000 theaters, but without a significant marketing push behind it. This is just like The Seeker, and the studio is going to learn that without an effective marketing push, no movie can survive. And when you have reviews that are barely over 20% positive, you need all the help you can get. On the other hand, this is an excellent weekend to launch a family film. Last year Happy Feet pulled in over $40 million, and even SpongeBob SquarePants earned more than $30 million. But Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium is tracking at less than half of that. Granted, family films are notoriously difficult to track, but earning more than $12 million could be difficult and taking in less than $10 million could be in order. Split the difference and we get $11 million for a prediction, which would put it in a virtual tie for fourth place.

The final wide release of the week is Love in the Time of Cholera. However, this film is opening in only 852 theaters, which is not enough to be considered truly wide. It is fair to call Love in the Time of Cholera Oscar bait, but with poor reviews there's little hope of that. In addition, with a more mature target audience, these poor reviews will be devastating at the box office. On the low end, it could miss the top ten; however, just under $3 million and an ninth place finish is a safer bet.

Finally, August Rush has sneak peaks in more than 500 theaters on Saturday. Check your local listings for details.


Filed under: Bee Movie, Beowulf, Fred Claus, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, August Rush, Love in the Time of Cholera, American Gangster