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New Movies Getting Cool Reception with Critics

March 4th, 2005

Three new films open in wide release (or, in the case of one of the films, semi-wide release), one more film expands at the box office, while another could be propelled back into the top five thanks to a significant Oscars bounce. All in all, it's a very busy weekend for moviegoers.

Be Cool is the film most likely to take top spot this week thanks to its impressive pedigree, which is ironic since it is also the worst reviewed new release of the week. Now, I know the film wasn't going to live up to the original in terms of reviews, but I didn't think the film would sink to just 25% positive either. Normally this wouldn't affect the opening weekend box office too much, but tracking is also a little weaker than expecting and the film may have difficulty beating $20 million by a significant margin. Perhaps people are wary of seeing a movie headlined by John Travolta and are waiting for the word of mouth before going. Regardless of the reason, look for $24 million opening weekend, just a bit less than originally expected, but less than $70 million overall.

The second place film, The Pacifier is also garnering very weak reviews. However, they are actually better than expected. On the other hand, Metacritic reverses the placings with Be Cool winning 39 to 31. What this means in a nutshell is, while more people are liking The Pacifier, they won't like it that much, and those that dislike it are more likely to really hate it. Those two factors should mostly balance out, leaving an $18 million opening weekend and $50 million total box office.

Thanks to its surprise win last weekend, Diary of a Mad Black Woman is earning an expansion in its theater count this weekend. It is not nearly as large as I would have predicted, but the expansion should help mitigate the drop in per theater average, leaving the film with $12.5 million this weekend - well above most predictions for last weekend.

Also bringing in $12.5 million should be Hitch, the undisputed champion of 2005 so far. The film has already topped $125 million and should hit $150 before it drops out of the top ten.

Returning to the top five should be the Best Picture Winner, Million Dollar Baby. Right now the film is has the lowest box office for a Best Picture Oscar winner since The Last Emperor (1987), but after adding $9 million this weekend it will be ahead of Braveheart (1995), and could eventually top $100 million, and overtake Shakespeare in Love (1998).

The last wide release of the weekend is The Jacket, but with a theater count of just 1,331, it's stretching the definition of wide by a little bit. It earned the best reviews of the week, but at just 45% positive that's not saying much. The ad campaign hasn't been aggressive enough, which will lead to the lowest per theater average of the three wide releases at around $5000, and around $6.5 million for the weekend.

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Filed under: Hitch, The Pacifier, Million Dollar Baby, Be Cool, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, The Jacket