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X Marks the Spot for Box Office Treasure

May 30th, 2006

Records fell this weekend as X-Men: The Last Stand beat all expectations, so there's little surprise that the overall box office was also much stronger than expected. For the 3-day weekend it was up 20.3% from last weekend at $197 million, which was 6.9% higher than the same weekend last year. The total box office for the 4-day weekend was $242 million or 4.2% higher than last year. Year-to-date, 2006 is ahead of 2005 by a 3% margin, which is in line with ticket price inflation.

It was a fast start for X-Men: The Last Stand as it took in a record $45.1 million on Friday and continued over the weekend earning $102.8 million over three days and $122.9 million over four. This not only tied the Fastest to $100 million, but it crushed the old records for the best Memorial Day long weekend. To put it into perspective, the old record for Memorial Day opening was previously held by The Lost World: Jurassic Park with $92.7 million, over four days. And the previous record for best Memorial Day weekend overall was held by Shrek 2 at $96.9 million, also over four days. That means X-Men: The Last Stand took just three days to break records set in four, and it did it with ease. Other marks it came close to reaching include Biggest Day, Biggest Opening Day (second place to Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith in both cases) and Bigest Opening Weekend.

But where does it go for here? Simply put, $200 million is academic at this point as is topping X2 for best in the franchise. However, the sharp decline from Friday to Saturday, the overall low internal multiplier, merely average reviews, and the fanboy effect all suggest very poor legs. So, while it should become the highest grossing film on 2006 and the first to cross $200 million, it will likely be beaten by both Cars and Superman Returns next month, and in the end it might not finish in the top five on the yearly chart.

The rest of the top five was mixed with The Da Vinci Code down a steeper than expected 55.8% over three days to $34.0 million while its four-day box office was $42.4 million. It was almost the reverse of the previous film as it barely beat its three-day prediction over the entire four days. Even so, the film should reach $200 million during its domestic run while it is already at nearly $500 million worldwide. The only real question to the film's financial success is how the studio is going to fully capitalize on it. The odds are that other Dan Brown books will be turned into movies, and possibly so will the books of all the authors that sued him for plagiarism. But without a true sequel, they might have to rely on putting out multiple special editions of the DVD... and multiple versions on Blu-Ray as well.

Over the Hedge again missed expectations this weekend, but by a much smaller margin than expected, earning $27.1 million / $35.3 million. Overall the film now has $84.4 million and is tracking in a similar fashion to Shark Tale. Should it finish with $150 million or more, it will be more than enough to show a profit before it hits the lucrative home market, but it still will be seen as a disappointment compared to other digitally animated films that have come out during the same time of year.

Surprisingly, the two final films in the top five also beat expectations over the weekend with Mission: Impossible 3 earning $7.0 million / $8.9 million and Poseidon earning $5.7 million / $7.1 million. The former film has now brought in $116.2 million, which is enough that it should earn a profit eventually, but it is still considered a disappointment. On the other hand, Poseidon's $46.7 million it a bomb by any definition of the word.

The only film in the sophomore class not in the top five was See No Evil. That film fell 41.4% to $2.7 million over the three-day weekend while it made $3.4 million if you include Monday. With $9.4 million in total the film has made more than it cost to make, which means it should show a profit sooner rather than later.

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Filed under: X-Men: The Last Stand, The Da Vinci Code, Over the Hedge, Mission: Impossible III, Poseidon, See No Evil