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New Releases go Underground

January 20th, 2006

Just the one real wide release this weekend, but there are three other films either opening or expanding into what some might consider a wide release. Only the one film has any shot at the number one spot, and two might not even make the top ten.

There's little doubt which film will top the charts this weekend: Underworld: Evolution. It's opening in more than 3,200 theatres, which is nearly triple the theatre count of the next widest opening film. The few reviews so far are overwhelmingly negative, but that won't affect the box office too much since expectations are low. Give it $24 million over the weekend, which is more than expected, but the competition is also weaker.

Next up is a pair of films seeing some expansion this weekend. After beating expectations last weekend, Hoodwinked will be adding several hundred more theatres, and that should help it remain in second place. The film will lose nearly half of its per theatre average, but that will still leave the film with $9 million over the weekend and $27 million overall.

The biggest winner on Monday could be a big winner this weekend as well. Brokeback Mountain finished in first place on Tuesday and Wednesday, and with a massive expansion this weekend it should break into the top three. How well it does this weekend will go a long way in determining the film's final box office. If it can break $10 million, which is possible but unlikely, then $100 million is nearly guaranteed. The worst case scenario has it at $6 million over the weekend, while $8 million is the most likely. That would give the film $42 million in total, and if it scores 3 Oscars wins (Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay), the film should still have a shot at $100 million with a little help from the studio.

Coming in a close race for fourth should be Glory Road and Last Holiday, both of which should earn between $7 million and $8 million. Glory Road has the serious edge here, but Last Holiday could surprise. Regardless, both films are well on their way to a respectable January box office, but neither can be described as a real hit.

The best of the rest is The New World, which should have what it takes to reach the top ten this weekend. The film did well during its two weeks of limited release at the end of 2005, but it hasn't had the media push needed to translate that into widespread success. I'm not sure why this is. Perhaps the studio is hoping Terrence Malick will carry the film, but that's risky at the best of times. With reviews that are just mediocre, it's practically box office suicide. Look for the film to grab $4 million over the weekend while scoring a spot in the lower part of the top ten.

Lastly there's End of the Spear. This film is opening slightly wider than the previous one, and earning slightly better reviews. However, with much less name recognition and an even more subtle ad campaign, it will have an even more difficult time making the top ten with just $3 million.

One final note, Something New has sneak peaks tonight in the 20 top markets before opening wide on the 3rd of February. Check local listings for details.

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Filed under: Brokeback Mountain, Underworld: Evolution, Hoodwinked, Glory Road, Last Holiday, The New World, Something New