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Pirates Fight Off Surprisingly Weak Competition

July 24th, 2006

Every single new release missed expectations, some by huge margins, and this pushed the overall box office down 5.6% to $150 million. That figure was still 7.2% higher than the same weekend last year. Year-to-date, 2006 has earned a total of $5.27 billion and that is up 5% from 2005's but 2% below 2004's record setting run.

As expected, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest became the first film to win the box office race three weeks in a row since Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and the first summer flick to do so since American Pie 2 managed the threepeat in 2001. Not only that, but it did it with ease, topping expectations with $35.2 million over the weekend. This gives the film $321.9 million and was more than enough to break the record for fastest to $300 million. Next up for the film is a place in the top ten all time and fastest to $400 million, but that last record might be getting a bit ahead of ourselves.

While Monster House missed expectations by a substantial margin, its $22.2 million was still more than enough to finish in second place. While the film missed expectations, there were a couple of pieces of good news. Firstly, the reviews continued to improve over the weekend and the film currently has a Tomatometer reading of 70% positive making it the best-reviewed film in the top five. That should help the film's legs, and with the budget coming in at the low end of expectations, it should be able to earn a profit after its initial push into the home market.

M. Night Shyamalan suffered through his worst weekend since becoming a household name with The Sixth Sense. Lady in the Water not only earned terrible reviews at a mere 19% positive, but it also opened in third place with a mere $18.0 million. Add in short legs due to poor reviews and the Fanboy effect and a $75 million budget, and this is a complete disaster. I wouldn't be surprised if someone lost their job over this.

Fourth and fifth places went to last week's twin comedies, You, Me and Dupree and Little Man. While the latter film won the opening battle, the former appears to be winning the war. This weekend You, Me and Dupree outperformed Little Man $12.8 million to $11.0 million while their running totals have hit $45.3 million and $40.6 million respectively. One last note, while Little Man is beating expectations, it also cost a lot more to make with a production budget of $64 million and will have to wait a while to show a profit.

Coming in sixth place was Clerks II with $10.1 million. It is hard to gauge whether or not the film is a success. On the one hand, it did miss the top five. On the other hand, it earned more on its opening day that the original made in total and by the end of the weekend had doubled its production budget. As for the film's long-term potential, it has to deal with competing forces of good reviews and the Fanboy effect. In these cases, the latter almost always wins out and this could keep the film from topping $25 million at the box office. This is still more than enough to ensure a profit by the initial push into the home market, if not sooner.

Lastly, we have My Super Ex-Girlfriend, a flop by any definition of the word. The film struggled to find an audience, finishing with just $8.6 million in 2,700 theatres for an anemic per theatre average of $3,184. Theatres will be dropping this one as soon as they are able to, even if next weekend's holds are better than its reviews would indicate.

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