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Invincible Tops Tepid Weekend

August 29th, 2006

As summer slowly winds down, there was the predictable decline from last weekend's box office. In total, ticket sales managed $102 million, down 7.9%, but more importantly up 4.6% from the same weekend last year. Year-to-date, 2006 is still ahead of 2005, but the lead has shrunk to 5% and we will need a strong fall season to maintain overall ticket sales growth.

When Friday's numbers were in, Invincible had earned $5.4 million, and I thought it would match the weekend predictions nearly perfectly. But Sunday's estimates had the film earning $17 million, a total it maintained when actual numbers were released. $17.0 million on an opening day of $5.4 million gives the film an internal multiplier of 3.15, which is very high compared to the average in recent years. This, plus the better than expected reviews should give the film stronger than average legs, perhaps even enough for it to reach $60 million.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby finished within a rounding error of weekend predictions with $8.1 million over the weekend and now has $127.8 million in total. Even with a production budget that seems excessive for a comedy and nearly no international appeal, the film should still have no trouble showing a profit after its initial push into the home market.

Amazingly Little Miss Sunshine was easily able to secure a place in the top five with $7.4 million. This was better than best case scenario given on Thursday and enough that the film could expand further. Even more impressive, it saw a mere 6% drop-off in theatres that were playing the film last weekend indicating an unstoppable word-of-mouth. In total, the film has pulled in $22.9 million and has already topped such wide releases as My Super Ex-Girlfriend and Just My Luck. It will be interesting to see how far up the yearly chart it can climb and whether it will last long enough to not be a faint memory by the time award season starts in earnest.

Fourth place went to Beerfest with $7.0 million. The movie wasn't the critical or financial disaster many were expecting, but with a per theatre average of just $2,372, it will disappear from theatres as soon as theatre owners are contractually able to dump it. On the other hand, it should have a strong cult following among drunken fraternity brothers for years to come.

World Trade Center was close behind with $6.5 million, close enough to Thursday's predictions to be considered a victory.

There were two other new releases this week that missed the top five, the best of them was Idlewild. The Musical earned just ninth place with $5.7 million, which was actually above expectations and translates into a per theatre average of $5,905. Will this translate into a significant expansion next weekend? Unlikely. In fact, with a niche market appeal and mixed reviews, it could see a 60% drop-off, or worse.

The last new release was How to Eat Fried Worms, which missed the top ten with just $4.0 million. The film missed expectations by a mere $1 million, but because there was such a tight grouping of movies, this resulted in the film finishing 11th -- several spots lower on the charts than most had expected. That low placing, plus a per theatre average of $2,141, will likely result in a huge drop in its theatre count after two weeks of release. This is an unfortunate result as the film earned reviews that were just shy of overall positive.

Moving onto the sophomore class, not one film was able to remain in the top five. However, the best of the bunch was Accepted, which only saw a 36.71% drop-off, leaving it in sixth place with $6.3 million for the weekend and $21.0 million during its run. On the other hand, Snakes on a Plane fell from first to seventh with $6.2 million. Percent-wise that was actually better than most people were expecting as it just missed 60%. Lastly there's Material Girls which fell 52.15% to $2.2 million. Look for the film to lose most of its theatre count this weekend as it struggles to push its $8.4 million running tally past the $10 million mark.

Lastly we have Pirates Watch 2006. This week the film fell out of the top ten but still managed to climb to $407.6 million, putting it in sixth place on the All-Time Charts, ahead of Spider-man. However, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and its $431.6 million seem very safe, unless the studio decides to release the film next year ahead of the release of At World's End. And even then, it seems more likely that the studio will just release a special edition DVD.

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Filed under: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, World Trade Center, Little Miss Sunshine, Invincible, Accepted, Snakes on a Plane, Beerfest, How to Eat Fried Worms, Idlewild, Material Girls