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Super Start to July 4th Long Weekend

June 28th, 2006

With this being the July 4th long weekend, several films are getting a jump on weekend rush, including what could become the biggest hit of the year. But there seems to be some signs of weakness in the man of steel. Will some cinematic kryptonite spoil Superman's return to theaters?

This time last year there was talk that Superman Returns would be a record-breaker, especially after the rebirth of the Batman franchise. However, instead of the growing, the hype surrounding the movie seems to be petering out. This could be the result of so many over-hyped movies already coming out this summer, nearly all of them disappointing either critically, financially, or both.

Superman Returns looks likely to fall into the final category, mainly because expectations were so high. Take its theater count, for instance; at 3,915 it is one of the top ten widest openings ever, but not breaking 4,000 is disappointing. Also, its reviews fit the same pattern; 76% positive is a good showing, but it is significantly lower than last year's Batman Begins scored and well short of Bryan Singer's previous super hero smash hit, X-Men 2, which earned 87% positive. Should this trend continue into the film's box office numbers, it will likely see strong numbers, but not in the record-breaking range. In the end, the most apt comparison may turn out to be King Kong. Big hype, high expectations, disappointing numbers. But in the end, it will still earn a profit.

High-end expectations for the weekend are $30 million tonight, $15 million tomorrow, and $75 million over the weekend. Low-end expectations are $20 million, $10 million and $60 million with the most likely scenario right in the middle.

Agree? Disagree? Put your prognosticating to the test and enter our UP, Up, and Away! Contest today.

There's little doubt that Click will fall to second place. What is up in the air is how well it will maintain its opening in the face of enormous competition. If the midweek numbers so far are any indication, the answer is not well. A 50% drop-off would leave the film with $20 million during its sophomore stint and while Adam Sandler films usually avoid that fate, they usually don't have to deal with this level of competition during their second weekend of release. So look for the film to come within a rounding error of $20 million over the weekend, and a total of more than $75 million after 10-days of release. A fine start, but not as strong as some were expecting.

While working on the prediction for Superman Returns this week I had this nagging doubt in the back of my mind that I couldn't quite place. Then last night it hit me, I'm more excited about seeing The Devil Wears Prada than I am about seeing Superman Returns. Everything suggests that Superman should be the film I want to see this weekend, right down to the fact that I collected comic books as a kid. But seeing Meryl Streep as a boss from hell and Anne Hathaway as her poor underling just appeals to me more. I expect the acting, the characters, the emotions, etc. to be more engaging than in Superman, and the reviews seem to support that theory. On the other hand, it seems likely that The Devil Wears Prada will become one of the long list of critically praised films to struggle at the box office, joining the ranks of Slither, Dave Chappelle's Block Party, etc. That is not to say the film will bomb. It should start with $14 million over the weekend and make enough on the home market to show a profit, but it won't earn as much as it deserves.

Cars is the first Pixar film not to be considered the film to go and see. And while it has not lived up to expectations so far, it could be crushed by the competition this weekend. On the other hand, its steep second weekend drop-off could cushion the blow, and most analysts believe this will be the case with the consensus being a $15 million weekend and a final box office significantly above $200 million.

The final film in the top five should be Nacho Libre with about $6.5 million, giving the film about $65 million during its run. This is better than original expectations and more than enough to show a healthy profit by the time the film starts its home market run.


Filed under: Cars, Superman Returns, Click, The Devil Wears Prada, Nacho Libre