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Moviegoers Hospitable to Hostel

January 9th, 2006

Nearly every film on Friday's column was able to meet or beat expectations this weekend, and that really helped ease the post-holiday transition. Granted, on a week-to-week basis the box office was down 14.2% to $128 million, but that was still 7.7% higher than the same weekend last year. Last year the box office got off to a great start, so this is either are really good sign for 2006, or symptoms of a significant change in behavior that could make the January dumping grounds a thing of the past. Either way, it's good news.

Hostel won the box office race this weekend with $19.6 million and in the process nearly topped its combined production and P&A budgets ($4 million for the former, and less than $20 million for the latter). At this point, even with the usual fast drop-offs for horror films, it will still show a profit by the end of next weekend. Add in reviews that were better than average for a wide release and Hostel is a success by nearly every measure of the word.

While Narnia held up better than expected with $15.6 million over the weekend, that still wasn't enough to cling to top spot. But the film is rapidly closing in on $250 million during its run and is the third highest grossing film of the year, so nobody's complaining. Speaking of the yearly charts, Narnia may catch up to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which added nearly $3 million to its $281 million total this weekend.

King Kong just missed expectations with $12.6 million over the weekend for a total of $192.7 million so far. On the positive side, the film should hit $200 million by this time next weekend, and even with it shedding theatres, it should still climb a few more places on the yearly charts.

One of the biggest surprises on this week's chart was Fun With Dick and Jane, which nearly grabbed third place with $11.9 million. This is another film that should eventually show a profit, but will suffer due to high expectations.

Cheaper by the Dozen 2, on the other hand, is just a week away from matching original expectations after adding $8.4 million for a running tally of $66.6 million. This film is getting to the danger zone where another sequel is more and more likely, especially when you consider most of the cast haven't really been able to replicate the film's success in the rest of their careers.

I expected Munich to take fifth place this weekend, and while it met expectations nearly perfectly with $7.6 million, stiffer competition meant it had to settle for sixth place. As for the film's long-term financial health, Oscars can't come soon enough as it needs all the help it can get to cover its $75 million production budget.

Now on to the other wide releases of the week. As I mentioned on Friday, Grandma's Boy is the first starring role for Allen Covert, and after this performance, it will likely be his last. The film made just $3.0 million in over 2,000 theatres and should disappear by its third weekend of release. On the other hand, it did earn better than expected reviews, but that's only because most people expected a Tomatometer reading in the single digits.

But that performance was solid gold compared to Bloodrayne. The latest Uwe Boll offering continued his trend of declining box office returns. This time the film opened with just $1.2 million, which is even lower than predicted, but for a good reason as the film only played in 985 theatres not the nearly 2,000 that was expected. It seems the studio sent hundreds of copies of the movie to theatres who didn't order it and who refused to show it. And with its reviews, who could blame them.

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Filed under: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, King Kong, Fun With Dick And Jane, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, Munich, Hostel, Grandma's Boy, BloodRayne