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R.V. Sticks it to Competition

May 1st, 2006

The last weekend in April is generally not a good time to open a new movie since the first weekend in May is the unofficial start of the Summer Blockbuster season. Movies that open now generally only get one weekend of release before being crushed by the competition. Because of this, studios tend to dump films that have lowered expectations during this weekend. So there's little surprise that the total box office was down 6.6% from last week to $102 million. But more importantly, that represents a 12.6% increase from the same weekend last year despite the fact that last year's number one film earned nearly $5 million more than this year's number one film did. This surge had helped the year-to-date figure grow to $2.603 billion, up 4.7% over last year's pace. This is significant because it puts ticket sales on the rise as well as total box office.

As almost everyone was expecting, R.V. was able to ride its wave of terrible reviews to the top of the charts. However, while it won the race, it was still weaker than expected earning just $16.4 million. Coincidentally, that is almost identical to The Shaggy Dog, which it was compared to on Thursday. Given the tougher competition coming up, this film is unlikely to have the same legs, but it should still top $50 million before it is over and eventually earn a profit on the home markets.

While many lamented how hard it was to predict audiences reaction to United 93, it actually matched Thursday's expectations nearly perfectly with $11.5 million. The film should have strong legs with a more mature target audience and unbelievable reviews, but there is a chance that the media hype surrounding the film will cause it to be a little more front-loaded than it otherwise would. Even so, with its low production budget, it should earn a profit on the home market regardless of how well it does from now on.

Finishing in third place was Stick It, which also matched Thursday's expectations nearly perfectly, sort of. Originally I had Stick It coming in third with Akeelah and the Bee finishing out of the top five; however, during my research I noticed that was a very unpopular position to take and in the end switch the two. I guess I have to learn to trust my own instincts over the opinion of others and not be cursed by my humble nature. ... Anyhoo, Stick It finished in third place with $10.8 million in just 2,038 theatres giving it the second best per theatre average in the top twenty, (the best went to United 93). On the other hand, its reviews are weak, but no more than the average wide release this year and it should be able to bring in $30 million by the time its run is over.

In a bit of a surprise, the best of the holdovers was Silent Hill as the film dropped less than 54% to $9.3 million for the weekend and $34.3 million after 10 days of release. Given the film's reviews, the Fanboy Effect, and the horror genre, a 60% drop-off should have been in order. Perhaps the film benefited from repeat viewing this weekend because those who saw it during its opening weekend still don't know what happened in the movie and needed to see it again.

Fifth place went to Scary Movie 4, which also dropped less than 54%. However, with just $7.8 million over the weekend and $78.2 million in total, it will have a very hard time reaching $100 million overall, especially with the competition next weekend.

The final new wide release of the week was Akeelah and the Bee with just $6.0 million. There are plenty of reasons why the film struggled, but reviews were not one of them. Part of the blame has to come from the fact that Spelling Bees are just not cinematic, but part of the blame has to go to the poor marketing. Even so, the film was an inexpensive film to make, so it should eventually show a profit, eventually.

The others two films in the sophomore class that didn't place in the top five were The Sentinel and American Dreamz. The Sentinel barely missed the top five with $7.8 million. This represents a 45.8% sophomore stint drop-off, which is inline with expectations. On the other hand, American Dreamz fell from 9th to 15th with just $1.6 million over the weekend and $6.2 million during its run. Perhaps with the satire had been sharper, and let's face it, funnier, the film would have succeeded.

One last note, Ice Age: The Meltdown finished lower than expected down 46% to $7.2 million. That was enough to push its running tally above the original's $177.9 million to $176.4 million.


Filed under: Ice Age: The Meltdown, Scary Movie 4, R.V., Silent Hill, The Sentinel, United 93, Stick It, Akeelah and the Bee, American Dreamz