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Holdovers Save Weekend Box Office

November 14th, 2006

There were four new releases opening in varying degrees of wideness this past weekend, but none of them could live up to lowered expectations. This left the overall box office at $127 million, which was down about 2% from last weekend while up less than 1% from the same weekend last year. That's not a large enough increase to keep up with ticket price inflation, but any good news is still welcome at this point.

After shocking everyone during its opening weekend, Borat performed almost exactly as expecting this weekend, finishing within a rounding error of Thursday's predictions with $28.3 million. This does mean there was a huge drop-off in the film's per theater average, but it still managed more than $10,000 so the studio is unlikely to complain. After ten days of release, it is clear that the film will have no trouble reaching $100 million. The only real question is whether or not Casino Royale will make it there first. In addition, the film should have no trouble reaching $200 million worldwide, all on a budget of just $18 million.

Both Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause and Flushed Away topped expectations while finishing in a virtual tie for second place. Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause won the close battle with $16.9 million compared to Flushed Away's $16.3 million. This does mean Flushed Away had a slightly better week-to-week drop-off, but with direct competition coming this weekend, both films could see loses in their theater counts and take a bit of a tumble on the charts.

The first of four newcomers was Stranger Than Fiction. The high concept comedy appears to be a little too high concept for Will Ferrell fans while those who associate him with Anchorman or Talladega Nights were likely turned off by his presence. On the other hand, the film's reviews should help its word of mouth and that could translate into better than average legs. Even then it will likely have to wait until the home market to become a hit.

Saw III fell more than 50% to just under $7.0 million over the weekend, but that was still enough to place 5th. So far the film has made $70.3 million but even with holidays on the way, it will have a nearly impossible time reaching the $87.0 million earned by the previous film.

Babel may have missed expectations, but with $5.6 million it was close enough to call it a victory. It was also enough to claim sixth place in a very close race. The film now has $7.4 million in total and should be able to add a few more theatres in the coming weeks. However, unless the upcoming Oscar contenders struggle, its chances of taking home hardware have weakened.

Next up was The Departed with $5.2 million for a seventh place finish. After more than a month in theaters the film now has $109.7 million, making it officially the biggest hist of Martin Scorsese's career.

Moving one place down the list was The Prestige in eighth place with $4.8 million over the weekend and $46.2 million overall. It has now made more than it cost to make and with a good start internationally it should have no trouble earning a profit by the time it hits the home market, if not sooner.

Our second wide release of the week shows up in ninth place. The Return managed just $4.5 million during its first weekend of release. To put that into perspective, that's less than half of what Sarah Michelle Gellar's previous film, The Grudge 2, earned during its opening day. And at this pace, and given the film's reviews, it might not earn $10 million in total.

Rounding out the top ten was A Good Year, which had anything but a good weekend. Even taking into account the film's lower theater count, its opening of $3.7 million was a disaster. Since the film was aimed at a more mature demographic, its terrible reviews hurt the film even more than it would normally, and it is likely the film will lose a sizeable chunk of its theater count just over a week from now, meaning it won't get a boost from the holidays.

Since MGM resurfaced as a label, it has had a terrible time producing hits and Harsh Times wasn't able to reverse that trend. Over the weekend, the film earned just under $2.0 million while placing 13th. Granted, its reviews were not great, but even so the film should have performed better than this.

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