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Pixar Running on Empty?

June 8th, 2006

Movie analysts are holding their breath to see if Cars will be the first misstep from Pixar. It is true that the film is earning much weaker reviews than the company has averaged, but it still should be a massive box office hit.

There's good news and bad news for the opening of Cars this weekend. First of all, it's getting the best reviews out of any saturation level release so far this year (saturation level defined as 3,000 theatres or more). But, it is the worst reviewed Pixar film ever at 79% positive. The tracking is strong among kids and families, but the Fanboys aren't feeling the love for the film. This means it will start out slower than some of the previous Pixar hits at around $65 million and the lower reviews will keep the legs lower, leaving it with $250 million. This is still a huge figure and easily more than enough to show a profit domestically, something only one in ten films can do.

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It seems a lot of people underestimated the power of 6/6/06 as The Omen broke the record for highest grossing Tuesday ever with $12,633,666 (and it ends in 666, that must be a sign). That's just $4,000 above Meet the Fockers, and that film went on to earn nearly $280 million. The odds of The Omen earning that much are zero, perhaps a little lower, as the film plummeted more than 60% on Wednesday. Should the film recover on Thursday it could take in $25 million; should it drop by more than 10%, then the original $15 million is still the target. Splitting the difference gives us a prediction of $20 million.

The Break-Up has been pushed to second place by the opening of The Omen, but it is within striking distance of that film and should finish the weekend in a virtual tie at $20 million. That represents a drop-off of just shy of 50%, which is more than enough to ensure a $100 million box office and that should make the studio happy.

X-Men: The Last Stand will, in some senses, recover this weekend, since there is almost no chance that it will suffer another drop-off of more than 60%. On the other hand, there is almost no chance it won't see its box office sliced in half. That would give the film $17 million over the weekend and more than $200 million during its run. It looks like it is on pace to match original predictions nearly perfectly, it just took an unexpected path to get there.

Over the Hedge should grab the final spot in the top five with just over $10 million, giving it $130 million during its run.

The final release to have a shot of reaching the top ten is A Prairie Home Companion, but with a theatre count of just 760, there's no way to call this film a true wide release. Even if the film earns a per theatre average of more than $10,000, it will still miss the top five. On the other hand, it appears to be tracking at less than a $5,000 per theatre average, giving it just $3.8 million. I think the tracking is underestimating its appeal and it will finish in the $5 million range.

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Filed under: Cars, X-Men: The Last Stand, Over the Hedge, The Break-Up, The Omen, A Prairie Home Companion