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Mumble and Bond go Mano-a-Mano

November 16th, 2006

What do penguins and secret agents have in common? (Not counting the fact that they both wear tuxedos.) Not a whole lot. However, movies featuring both will be in a close battle this weekend for top spot on the box office charts. Personally, in these battles I usually put my money on the guy with the gun, but cuteness might win out.

Casino Royale is a rebooting of the James Bond franchise, starting with the very first assignment Bond got after earning his double-oh and the licence to kill that goes along with it. That alone is worth a $30 million opening weekend. Throw in its 94% positive reviews and you have the makings of a champion. Should these reviews hold it will become the highest rated wide release of the year, overtaking Borat by about 2%. However, good reviews have not guaranteed box office success this year and with tough competition and some uncertainty in Daniel Craig's ability to take over the iconic role, there is likely going to be a drop-off in opening weekends from the previous installment. But, while Die Another Day had the best opening for the franchise, Casino Royale should show better legs and end with the best total box office. Look for just over $40 million over the weekend and $170 million overall.

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Next up is Happy Feet, which has tracked better than expected over the past week. Reviews for the film started off extremely well but have tapered off recently, dropping to 80% positive. This is still fantastic, but it could drop below the 77% positive or the 75% positive earned by Cars and Over the Hedge respectively and this means it could be a really tight race at this year's Oscars for the Best Animated Feature. As for its chances at the box office, Casino Royale seems to have a clear path to first place on Friday. However, Happy Feet should win the rest of the weekend, which might be enough to win the overall race. Look for just under $40 million over the weekend and $165 million in total.

Racing to $100 million is Borat, which has a chance of reaching the milestone as early as this weekend. By end of business today (Thursday) the film should have close to $77 million, leaving it just over $23 million shy. Can the film earn that much this weekend? Not likely. But if there's anything we've learned so far it's that this film is anything but predictable. So $24 million isn't out of the question. On the other hand, the film lost more than 65% of its per theater box office during its second weekend and if that trend continues it will be down to under $10 million this weekend. Split the difference and you get $17 million, which sounds like a good prediction.

Next up are the dueling kids movies, Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause and Flushed Away. Both look to add between $9 million and $10 million over the weekend with the former have the tiniest advantage over the latter. Both films have not lived up to expectations as the competition has been tougher than expected. But next weekend is the start of holidays and they both have some life left in them.

Finally we have Let's Go to Prison. Let's count the obstacles in between this film and box office success. First, its two stars have almost no track record when it comes to headlining box office hits. Secondly, the film is only playing in roughly 1,500 theaters. And lastly, it is not being screened for critics. Ouch. Best case scenario has the film earning $5000 per theater, giving it $7.5 million and a possible sixth place finish. Worst case, under $3 million and outside the top ten. I think it will miss that ignoble fate, but it will still end up on the low end with $4 million over the opening weekend and about $12 million in total.


Filed under: Happy Feet, Casino Royale, Borat, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, Flushed Away, Let's Go to Prison