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Can Borat's Run be Stranger?

November 10th, 2006

With Borat beating all expectations last weekend, all eyes are on it this weekend. Can it maintain this amazing pace? Will it be able to keep its momentum as it expands? Will it suffer a major drop-off? What about the competition? Can they handle the pressure?

Borat expands this weekend from 837 theatres to 2,566. Given the film's reviews and the amount of publicity, the film could see substantial growth this weekend, perhaps even topping $30 million. On the other hand, the film's midweek numbers have not been particularly strong and there are five other films opening or expanding wide this weekend so there's a lot of other options for moviegoers to choose from. In the end, I don't think either of these trends will dominate leaving the film with roughly the same amount it earned last weekend, say within 10% of it opening. I think a small growth is more likely than not with about $28 million being the most likely number.

Will Ferrell attempts to move from goofier comedies to ones that show off his acting chops a little more. Stranger Than Fiction is not likely to be a an Oscar winner, but many people who are used to see him in movies like Anchorman or Talladega Nights will be more impressed with the maturity as an actor he shows in this movie. This helps the film maintain reviews that are substantially better than average and with better than expected name awareness and general appeal it has the potential to surprise. Granted, not even the most bullish analyst seems to think the film will crack $20 million. I wouldn't put that figure totally out of the question, but it will have a tough time making it there. $18 million is a little more realistic, with better than average legs.

Battling for third place will be the two kids movies that opened last weekend, Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause and Flushed Away. While Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause won this particular race during its opening weekend and has a small lead during the midweek, Flushed Away has the advantage this weekend. First of all, the latter film easily earned much better reviews and with Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause suffering from sequelitis, Flushed Away should come up ahead $13 million to $12 million.

There is an even bigger clump of films fighting for fifth place with various people predicting A Good Year, The Return, and Babel all hoping to open / expand into fifth place while Saw III is tracking close enough to surprise should the new film trip up.

Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to theaters in The Return. Compared to her last film, The Grudge 2, this one should earn similar reviews, but that won't happen until after Friday as it is not being screened for critics. On the other hand, if it manages to earn more than half as much money it will be looked at as a success. Most analysts expect between $8 million and $10 million over the weekend and between $20 and $25 million in total. That opening should be enough to claim fifth place, but it is far from certain.

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The next contender for fifth place is Babel as the Oscar hopeful expands from 35 theatres to 1,250. So far the film has done amazingly well in limited releases, but this expansion will be tough to deal with. Reviews are good, but not great, and both Stranger Than Fiction and A Good Year are going for roughly the same audience. This could hurt the film this week leaving it out of the top ten with $6 million or so. On the other hand, it could have breakout success and take in $10 million or more. Most likely the film will have to settle for sixth place and $8 million. This is good for a film that started in limited release and might be enough for it to add several hundred more theaters over the next couple weeks.

A Good Year starts its run this weekend but it won't live up to previous expectations. Just two weeks ago the film opened in the U.K. and really struggled barely placing in the top ten, then during its sophomore stint it completely collapsed. Comparing the sizes of the two markets would result in a opening weekend of just under $5 million. And yes, reviews have been very poor, but I still have a hard time seeing a Russell Crowe film pulling in that little during its opening weekend. However, even if it earns $7 million, which is my prediction, it won't be enough for the film to capture fifth place.

The final new release of the week is Harsh Times. The film is opening in just under 1,000 theaters with reviews that are just above the 50% positive level. Neither of these facts are good signs for the film's box office potential and it only has a 50/50 chance of opening in the top 10. Look for $4 million and an 11th place finish.


Filed under: Borat, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, Flushed Away, Stranger Than Fiction, Babel, The Return, A Good Year, Harsh Times