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Prestige Powers to Number One as Flags Falter

October 24th, 2006

There was no breakout hit this week with even the pleasant surprises merely able to match expectations. This left the overall box office down 5% to $106 million over the weekend; however, that was still 18% more than the same weekend last year when all four new releases flopped to one degree or another.

It was a surprise first place finish for The Prestige. But before the studio gets too excited its opening weekend total of $14.8 million was merely in line with expectations and its victory on the charts was the result of much weaker than expected competition. That said, the first place finish is worth a lot in terms of free advertising and with the best reviews of any wide release of the week it should have better than average legs. I’m hesitant to say $60 million is the target for this film, but I won't rule it out either.

The Departed also merely matched expectations over the weekend adding $13.5 million to its running tally of $76.9 million. However, it too was able to finish one place higher than predicted, coming in second place. The film is on pace to top The Aviator as Martin Scorsese's biggest hit, and that's not the best news of the weekend. With Flags of Our Fathers struggling both at the box office and to a lesser extent with critics, this film has retaken the lead in the early race for Oscar.

The biggest shock of the weekend, and perhaps the year, was Flags of Our Fathers, as the film failed to live up to the hype and earned third place with just $10.2 million during its first weekend. This is not that much lower than the opening weekends for Clint Eastwood's previous two films, but it is unlikely to have the same legs because of its reviews. Granted, at 72% positive they are better than most of the films that earn a wide release. However, they are well below the 92% positive earned by Million Dollar Baby or the 86% positive earned by Mystic River. You can't count the film out as far as Oscars go, but it went from a favorite to win multiple awards to one that might not pick up nominations in the top fields.

There was another surprise in fourth place as Open Season fell just 26.55% to $8.2 million over the weekend for a total of $69.8 million after four weeks of release. The film is about a week away from topping Barnyard for fourth place for digitally animated films this year, but that's as high as it will climb on that particular chart.

The final film in the top five was Flicka. The film, which was the widest release of the week, missed lowered expectations with $7.7 million in 2,877 theatres. Its lower per theatre average means that even if it holds up better than its reviews would indicate, it will still lose a massive chunk of its theatre count in two weeks. This will likely lead to a final box office of roughly $20 million.

Marie-Antoinette was within a rounding error of matching expectations with $5.4 million over the weekend. However, with the weakest reviews of any new release in the top ten it might not be able to significantly expand beyond its 859 theatre count. Some expansion might be possible and a final tally of $20 million isn't out of the question.

Possibly the biggest surprise in the top ten was a film that didn't quite make it, but came very close. The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D opened in 12th place with an astonishing $3.3 million in just 168 theatres. The film was actually able to place in the top ten on Friday and I can guarantee that after those numbers were released there were theatre owners calling the studio to book the film... for next year. This has the definite potential to become a yearly event.

Finally we have the sophomore class, which is overflowing this week as no film that opened last week remained in the top five. The Grudge 2 just missed the top five with $7.7 million, which was down 63% from its opening. That also puts its 10-day total at $31.3 million, which is actually less than a lot of people thought it would open with. The rest of the films held up a lot better, including Man of the Year, which was down 44% to $6.9 million for a total of $22.4 million and The Marine, which was down 47% to $3.8 million over the weekend and $12.6 million in total. Finally, we have One Night with the King; that film didn't suffer the sophomore slump like most niche mart films do, but its decline of 42% to $2.4 million is still higher than most limited releases and it has little chance to push its total of $7.7 million above its $20 million production budget.

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Filed under: The Departed, Open Season, The Prestige, The Grudge 2, Man of the Year, Flags of Our Fathers, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D, Flicka, The Marine, Marie Antoinette, One Night with the King