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Restless Nights for Will Ferrell

August 3rd, 2006

It's the first weekend in August and studios are hoping the dog days of summer can be pushed back at least one more week. This shouldn't be a problem as the odds-on favorite to win the weekend race is tracking better and better by the day, while we also have one of the best reviewed wide releases of the year hitting theatres tomorrow.

With Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Will Ferrell hopes to return to the form that got him into the $20 million club. Actors who earn $20 million should produce $100 million movies every single time, with the occasional $200 million hit as well. However, since entering that exclusive club, his films have not performed particularly well. Talladega Nights certainly feels like the kind of movie that made him a huge star and the reviews, while not overwhelmingly positive, are certainly better than his previous three major movies earned, and his box office returns should also improve. I'm not convinced it will hit the $100 million mark, but with just under $40 million this weekend, it should come close. On the other hand, should the film earn $20 million or less over the weekend, Ferrell could see his paycheck take a hit.

Agree? Disagree? Put your prognosticating to the test and enter our Deck Dog Days Contest today.

Miami Vice became Micheal Mann's best opening ever last week and since he's hasn't had a film end its theatrical run with a multiplier less than 4 in about 2 decades, the future looks bright for the film. However, he also hasn't had a film earn reviews this weak in about 2 decades and the midweek numbers have not been kind. To have a solid shot at $100 million, the film will need to have a sophomore stint drop-off of 40% or less, which seems unlikely at this point. Tracking seems to indicate the drop-off will be closer to 50% with the money on $13.5 million.

That's close to the figure that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest should earn this weekend. On the one hand, it has retaken top spot during the midweek. On the other hand, it will lose nearly 400 theatres on Friday and that will push its weekend haul down just enough to keep in third place. So look for $12 million over the weekend for a total of $380 million after a month of release.

It is very unlikely that The Barnyard will become one of Steve Oedekerk's bigger hits, especially since the golden age of digital animation is all but dead. The film might pull in enough kids, and their parents, to have a halfway decent showing this weekend, but with disappointing reviews it won't have much shelf life, at least compared to most kids movies. Look for $11 million over the weekend and $35 million in total.

The next new release should be The Descent. The U.K. import is earning unbelievable reviews but tracking suggests the marketing hasn't taken hold and the film might not even finish in the top five. I'm predicting it will with about $10 million, but I admit this could be a little too bullish for the film. If it does struggle, it will be the latest in a line of highly rated films to miss expectations this year.

Should The Descent stumble out of the gate, John Tucker Must Die will be there to take fifth place. On the positive side it had a surprise third place finish last weekend, but its terrible reviews and the finicky nature of its target audience will result in a quick descent down the charts. A 50% drop-off is to be expected, and that would leave the film with just over $7 million, while a 60% drop-off would reduce the film to just under $6 million. The former is just a little bit more likely than the latter leaving the film with a $7 million weekend.

Finally we have The Night Listener. The film's reviews have plummeted from earlier in the week and with a theatre count under 1,400 and an ad campaign that has been 50% ineffective and 50% invisible it will not reach the top five. In fact, it might not reach the top ten during its opening weekend. Best case scenario is $6 million and seventh place, while the worst case it under $3 million and a placing somewhere in the teens. Unfortunately, the lower end seems more likely and $4 million and 10th place is probably the best it can look forward to.


Filed under: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Barnyard: The Original Party Animals, Miami Vice, John Tucker Must Die, The Descent, The Night Listener