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Silencing the Critics

April 21st, 2006

A trio of new films tackle Scary Movie 4 this weekend, looking to become the next box office champ. None of the films are winning over the critics, and one of them was not even screened, but that isn't necessarily the huge warning sign that it usually signifies.

Silent Hill is the film most likely to win the weekend box office race, and also the film most likely to win praise from the critics. I say mostly likely because while the other two have failed to impress, this film has had almost no reviews written. There were no advanced screenings for critics, not because the movie is a dud, but because the director, Christopher Gans, wanted the film to remain a mystery. There have been some early reviews though, and for the most part they have been positive. Here's the thing: so far this year there have been a lot of horror films to hit theatres, most of which have earned really poor reviews. However, the best reviewed such movie -- Slither -- was really the only horror film to bomb this year. So maybe the studio held it back so people will think it's really bad and get them into the theatres. If that's true, the movie industry is even more messed up than I imagined. The best case scenario has the film breaking out with $30 million, but just under $25 million seems more likely. Last minute update, as more and more reviews come in they are not as kind as earlier ones. The main complaint seems to be is you don't know the video game it is based on then you will be completely lost. While this won't hurt fans' enjoyment, it will limit it's wide appeal and keep its opening box office to about $20 million.

The Scary Movie franchise has never been known for long legs, and the latest chapter should be no different. Scary Movie 3 fell 58% and Scary Movie 4 looks poised to beat that mark. If should fall just over 60%, leaving the film with just under $15 million. However, the film will have already matched its production budget before the weekend started and director David Zucker is already talking about Scary Movie 5.

The next wide release of the week is The Sentinel. Right from the beginning I was comparing the film to Firewall, which got off to a $13.6 million start before finishing just shy of $50 million. This film is earning reviews that are better, but not by enough to make a real difference with moviegoers. Look for it to earn a similar opening (just over $14 million), but have better legs, finishing with just under $60 million.

Ice Age: The Meltdown continues its slide down the charts, falling about 40% to $12 million. This will put the film about one week from topping the original domestically, a feat the film will have done on both the international and worldwide box office charts.

Rounding out the top five should be American Dreamz, the political / Reality TV satire. The film isn't earning the kind of reviews director Paul Weitz's previous two films earned, nor will it be as big of a box office hit. Fortunately, the film was also less expensive to make, meaning even if it earns less than $10 million during its opening weekend, it should still last long enough to show a profit by the time it finishes its initial push into the home market.

One final note, Akeelah and the Bee has a sneak peak tomorrow in just over 900 theatres nationwide. Check your local listings for more details.


Filed under: Ice Age: The Meltdown, Scary Movie 4, Silent Hill, The Sentinel, Akeelah and the Bee, Slither, American Dreamz