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Eastwood Begins His Assault on Oscar

October 19th, 2006

It's a busy week for wide releases with four such films aiming for a spot in the top ten. However, none of them look likely to set the box office on fire and will have to rely on strong legs to make a big impact. Fortunately, all fours film are earning good reviews with the weakest still cracking the 50% positive mark. Quite a turnaround from last weekend when none could top 25% positive.

Leading the way in terms of box office potential and reviews is Flags of Our Father, the latest film from Clint Eastwood. Nearly everyone thought this film would be an Oscar contender, if not the Oscar favorite, right from when it was first announced. So I imagine most people were surprised when earlier this week its Tomatometer rating was at just 50%. Granted, it has climbed since then, but its current score of 70% positive it is still well below expectations. However, these high expectations could be leading to a lower score as some critics may be given the film a negative review based more on expectations than the actual merits of the movie itself. As for the box office, predictions are all over the place with a sub-$10 million opening on the low end while the high end has it topping Space Cowboys for the best opening in Clint Eastwood's directing career. It will likely miss that mark, but it could come close with $17 million over the weekend and with a more mature target demographic, it should have strong legs and could reach $70 million.

Second place should go to the second film about turn-of-the-century stage magicians released in the past few months, and coming out second is never a good thing. The Prestige does have a few advantages over The Illusionist including opening in 2,281 theatres, which is roughly 50% more than The Illusionist managed at its widest. On the other hand, The Prestige's reviews and slightly behind those earned by The Illusionist. Its biggest advantage is the big studio push the film is getting and that should help it take second place with just under $15 million while its legs will be strong, giving it just over $50 million in total.

The film that will likely benefit the most from Flags of Our Father missing expectations is The Departed. With not one, but two films aiming at a similar demographic, it would have been a safe bet that this film would lose about 40% of last weekend's box office. But now that drop-off could be as low as 25% to just over $14 million. $13 million should be a more reasonable goal, but even that would all but guarantee a final figure of $100 million.

Flicka is the widest new release of the week, but ironically it is not the one with the best prospects at the box office. The biggest reason for this should be because it had the weakest reviews of the four wide releases this week. However, the lack of a effective marketing campaign is a bigger problem with this film. In the October preview this film's box office potential was rated at $30 million. This seems a little optimistic now, but it should come very close with $9 million over the weekend and $26 million in total.

Agree? Disagree? Put your prognosticating to the test and enter our latest contest today.

Next we have The Grudge, which hits the trifecta for sophomore slumps. It's a sequel, a horror film, and one that earned terrible reviews as well. All of this suggests a 60% decline this weekend, which would leave the film in fifth place with just over $8 million. Even the best case scenario has it falling nearly 50% to $10.5 million but 60% seems a lot more likely at this point.

The final wide release of the week is Marie-Antoinette, but to call its 859 theatres wide is stretching the term to the breaking point. On the other hand, it should have no trouble reaching the top ten over the weekend. There were reports when the film debuted at Cannes Film Festival it received boos from some of the critics at the screening so many were expecting the worst. However, its reviews at still above the overall positive level. On the other hand, this is easily the worst result for a Sofia Coppola film and not high enough to be a real selling point. Look for the film to open with $6 million over the weekend and while it should expand somewhat over the subsequent weekends, it will end its run with $25 million.


Filed under: The Departed, The Prestige, The Grudge 2, Flags of Our Fathers, Flicka, Marie Antoinette