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Movie Industry Hopes to Avoid any Turkeys

November 22nd, 2006

The Thanksgiving long weekend marks the beginning of the holiday season and is traditionally one of the biggest weekends of the year. This year is no exception with four films opening wide, and two others adding a massive number of theaters. However, despite the glut of new and expanding films, there's a very good chance that it will be a holdover that claims the top spot over the weekend.

After taking in more than $40 million over its opening weekend, Happy Feet looks to improve upon that figure this weekend, and it's got a great shot at doing so. It is a kids movie and these type of films do tend to benefit over the holidays. Also, it earned excellent reviews and the word-of-mouth should be great. And with the only direct competition being decidedly weaker, it should have no trouble remaining on top of the box office charts. The only real question is how well it will hold up over the 3-day weekend and how much growth it will have if you add in the holidays. Tracking has the film earning roughly $35 million from Friday to Sunday and about $50 million in total giving it a ten-day total of $100 million give or take $1 million.

It won't be as close of a race as last weekend, but Casino Royale should still finish second to the dancing penguins. In the film's favor are the vastly better reviews and the historically strong legs this franchise tends to have. Going against it are the target demographic, which is marginally less likely to head to the theaters during the long weekend than families with kids. Also, its direct competition is much stronger than Happy Feet's is. Even so, the film should hang on admirably and earn $30 million over the three-day portion of the weekend and just over $40 million in total.

The first new release of the week is Deja Vu. The first new release of the week is Deja Vu. (I would promise that's the last of the deja vu jokes I write, but we all know that it's not.) This is the third time Denzel Washington and Tony Scott have teamed up together, following Crimson Tide and Man on Fire. This film is earning reviews that are in between those two films at 62% positive. This is lower than I originally anticipated, but shouldn't hurt the box office too much. I'm predicting $26 million over three days and $39 million in total, which is a little more bullish than most, but certainly a realistic goal.

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The next wide release is Deck The Halls starring Matthew Broderick and Danny De Vito, both of whom have plenty of talent. Unfortunately, neither has been able to headline a big hit in quite a while. If the reviews are any indication, this film will crash and burn this weekend. However, Christmas in November movies have shown incredible resilience at the box office in the face of terrible reviews in the past. For instance, just two years ago Christmas with the Kranks earned just 4% positive but opened with $22 million / $31 million. Deck The Halls isn't tracking as well mainly due to tougher competition, but it should still grab $14 million / $21 million while finishing reasonably close to original expectations.

There should be a close fight for fifth place between newcomer Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny and holdover Borat. It looks like the newbie has the advantage despite its weak theater count and merely average reviews. The main problem with the critical reception is the cohesion; the movie feels like a TV skit stretched out to fill a feature-length movie and the idea can't sustain itself at full power that long. As for the film's box office chances, there's also weakness there. Part of the problem with the movie is it is just too bizarre for the average moviegoer and the ad campaign so far has not done a good job of convincing people otherwise. Even so, there is definite cult classic potential here. On the high end the film could bring in just over $9 million over the three-day weekend and roughly $13 million in total. On the other hand, it could flop earning less than $9 million from now till Sunday. Should it struggle, look for Borat to grab fifth place on its way to $100 million domestically.

Next up we have Bobby, which is exploding from 2 theaters to 1667. So far the critics have not been overly kind to this Oscar bait film and now we get to see if the moviegoers will be any different. Tracking suggest they won't. It won't have a terrible weekend, but with totals of $7 million / $10 million, it won't last long enough to be remember during Award Season.

The final new wide release is The Fountain, which is opening in less than 1500 theaters to weak reviews. The film is plagued by many problems including being pretentious, muddled, overly-long, etc. On the other hand, it certainly looks great. The film feels like an art house film that is trying too hard to open wide. If it had a great ad campaign and some serious Oscar buzz it could survive this stretch, but it has neither. Best case scenario has the film pulling in $6 million / $9 million, but it is more likely that it will miss the top ten with $4 million / $6 million.

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Filed under: Happy Feet, Casino Royale, Borat, Déjà Vu, Deck the Halls, Bobby, The Fountain, Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny