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Is the Box Office entering an Ice Age?

March 31st, 2006

We have the first event movie of the year coming out this weekend. Yes, I realize I said that when V for Vendetta came out, but this time I mean it. In all seriousness, if Ice Age: The Meltdown doesn't have the best opening of the year, then the 2006 box office is pretty much sunk.

There's really no chance that Ice Age: The Meltdown won't finish on top of the box office charts this weekend, the real question is how huge will it open. The original made more than $46 million back in 2002, and this film seems likely to break that, especially given its theatre count: the film is opening in 3,963 theatres tonight making it the fifth widest opening ever. The reviews are a step down from the first film's, but not so low that it should adversely affect the box office too much. Look for an opening of just over $50 million over the weekend and a total box office of just under $200 million (it might come close enough to that milestone that the studio will give it a push and help it over).

Can The Inside Man's reviews help it hold onto its audience this weekend in the face of crushing competition? It can't hurt. A 40% drop-off would give the film $17.5 million over the second weekend, which is about as good as it can hope for. That would put the film's running tally at over $50 million and past Malcolm X as Spike Lee's highest grossing film. Even if the film falls faster than expected and only brings in $15 million, it will still be able to make that claim.

The first of three counter-programming releases coming out this weekend is Slither, the Alien Invasion / Zombie horror / comedy. On the one hand, the reviews are unbelievable, with a Tomatometer reading of 90%, making it the best reviewed wide release of the year. (If you don't count Dave Chappelle's Block Party which only opened in 1,200 theatres, which really stretches the definition of wide.) On the other hand, it is being released in only 1,943 theatres and the ad campaign has not been great. It reminds me a lot of fellow Universarl release, Serenity, and not just for the obvious Nathan Fillion connection. The ad campaign seems geared more to getting the base excited and less about selling the film to as wide an audience as possible. This will hurt the film's box office, leaving it with about $10 million over the next three days. On the other hand, it seems likely that nearly everyone who sees the movie this opening weekend will end up buying the DVD as soon as it comes out and a cult status is all but guaranteed.

Next up is ATL, the roller skating hip-hop movie not to be confused with Roll Bounce, the roller skating 70s soul movie that came out last year. The two films are earning nearly identical review, open with nearly identical theatre counts, and should end up with nearly identical opening box office number. That would give ATL about $8 million over the weekend and a fourth place finish.

Next up will either be V for Vendetta or Failure to Launch. The two films will be in a very close battle for fifth place with just under $7 million, but if I were to pick a favorite, Failure to Launch is more likely to finish out on top.

The last wide release of the week is Basic Instinct 2. This film has the lowest theatre count of the four films opening wide at just 1,453. It is also earning the weakest reviews at just 9% positive and if there is any justice, it will also have the smallest opening. Look for less than $6 million over the weekend and there's a chance it will earn less over its entire run than the original made during its opening weekend.

One last note. Take the Lead has a sneak peak tomorrow at about 900 theatres. Check your local listings.


Filed under: Ice Age: The Meltdown, Failure to Launch, Inside Man, V for Vendetta, Take the Lead, Serenity, ATL, Dave Chappelle's Block Party, Slither, Basic Instinct 2