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Pirates Face Stormy Waters

July 20th, 2006

For the first time in a few weeks there's a real race for top spot on the box office charts, with a tight contest between Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Lady in the Water.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is trying to become the first film to top the charts three weeks in a row this year and the first do to it since Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire did it last November. While it has some competition from Lady in the Water, I think it is the odds on favorite to come out on top. It should see its week-to-week drop-off recover from the 54% it saw last weekend to just less than 50% this weekend, which would give the film $33 million and the win. It would also be enough for Pirates to cross $300 million, enter the top twenty on the All-Time Charts, and break the record for fastest to $300 million.

M. Night Shyamalan is the Star Trek of directors. Every even film of his is a hit, and every odd one is a dud (starting with Wide Awake). It looks like Lady in the Water will break that streak, but not in a good way. Early reviews were terrible, and while they have recovered somewhat, 24% positive is still easily the worst of his career. How will this affect the film's opening weekend box office? After The Village a lot of moviegoers, including Shyamalan fans, were on a wait and see approach with this movie, and since word-of-mouth is bound to be as weak as the film's Tomatometer reading, this is disastrous news. So much so that it could open with less than $30 million, making it the worst opening for Shyamalan since The Sixth Sense. Right now its tracking is just strongly enough to beat Unbreakable's $30.3 million opening, but it will be awfully close.

Agree? Disagree? Put your prognosticating to the test and enter our Fairest of Them All Contest today.

The next new release is Monster House, the latest digitally animated film to use the same motion capture technology as The Polar Express. While the technology has improved somewhat, the storytelling hasn't, and the film is earning nearly identical reviews. Add in a release date that seems contrary to its themes (it is clearly a Halloween release, so releasing it now is not the best idea, even with the summer holidays), and the film won't reach its full potential. That doesn't mean it will bomb, but an opening of $25 million is not a great return compared to other digitally animated films, especially if its production budget it near the high end of expectations.

In fourth place should be Clerks II, which is tracking slightly better than it was earlier in the month. There were a lot of worries that the movie would be terrible. So terrible, in fact, that it would make Kevin Smith fans retroactively hate the original. This is thankfully not the case. However, neither is the film as good as the original was. On a side note, there's been a lot of talk about Joel Siegel walking out of the press screening and the commotion he made on the process. I won't comment either way, but I do find it ironic that he left the film because of how vulgar it was and while doing so dropped an F-bomb. Why bring it up at all? Because this added publicity should help the film into fourth place over the weekend with about $15 million while its total should come in at $35 million. Given its production budget, this is a huge hit.

Finally we have My Super Ex-Girlfriend, a movie a lot of people were really interested in seeing, until they watched the trailer. What looked like a fresh and entertaining idea on paper seemed cliched and forced. Reviews are actually better than the trailer suggested they would be, but it is still one of the weaker wide releases of the week. Part of the problem is that the story is tilted so heavily to the male perspective that the lack of a balanced view hurts the film. Uma Thurman's character is a 1-dimensional stereotype; a hyper-jealous, irrational, vindictive woman who seems one bad PMS trip away from destroying the world. Tracking has the film topping $20 million over the weekend, but I think this overestimates the demand and it will have to settle for fifth place and $14 million.


Filed under: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Monster House, Lady in the Water, Clerks II, My Super Ex-Girlfriend