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Surprisingly Strong Start Stops Slump

March 27th, 2006

The number one film of the weekend got off to a much stronger start than expected, and that helped the overall box office climb to $109 million over the weekend, which was 2.4% higher than last weekend. It was also 9.8% higher than last year, stopping a five-week slump of year-to-year drop-offs, but 2006 is still behind 2005's pace by 2%

As expected, The Inside Man had no trouble winning the weekend, but it was surprising how well it performed. With a fraction below $29.0 million at the box office, the movie because the best opener ever for Denzel Washington and in just three days became the fourth-highest grossing film of Spike Lee's career. Becoming the highest grossing film of Spike Lee's career is academic at this point, but with reviews that most films would kill for, some are suggesting the film's legs will help it overtake Remember the Titans as Denzel Washington highest-grossing film. Now, I'm not expecting it will do that well, but $100 million isn't out of the question. On a side note, I realize I predicted the film would only earn $15 million at the beginning of the month, but in my defense, there were pretty strong rumors that the film would have opened with the dreaded 'Select Cities' release strategy, in which case it would have been lucky to made $5 million in total.

A lot of people were expecting V for Vendetta's reviews to translated into strong word-of-mouth, helping the film's legs. That was not the case, as it even missed my lower expectations with $12.3 million. The 52% drop-off was not as bad as it could have been and DVD sales should be very strong, so the film should eventually show a profit. Eventually.

The good news was that Stay Alive beat expectations, opening in third place with $10.7 million. But the bad news was that its reviews were as bad as expected with a Tomatometer reading of just 13%. Great news, however, was that the film was much less expensive to make than estimated, costing less than $10 million. So even with no legs the film should make a profit, probably sometime during its international run.

Failure to Launch and The Shaggy Dog continued their improbably leggy runs with $10.5 million and $9.0 million. Both films earned terrible reviews, but both saw third weekend drop-offs of around 33% and both are well on their way to profitability.

The last of the new releases was Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, which not only had the smallest theatre count and the weakest reviews, but also had the smallest opening with just $6.9 million. The film, which many are calling the worst movie ever, is still a bit of a financial success as it did not cost a lot to make and was originally planned for a direct-to-DVD release.

Moving onto the sophomore class, the only other new release to make the top ten last week that wasn't in the top five this week was She's the Man, which held on very well down just 32% to $7.3 million over the weekend and $20.3 million in total. Better than expected legs could help it top Amanda Bynes' previous vehicle, What a Girl Wants. The only other "wide release" was Find Me Guilty, which simply disappeared, falling 75% to just $155,000. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Select Cities doesn't work.


Filed under: Failure to Launch, Inside Man, V for Vendetta, The Shaggy Dog, She's the Man, Stay Alive, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Find Me Guilty