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Box Office Comes Closer to Snapping Slump

June 20th, 2005

With both new films failing to live up to expectations, we saw yet another weekend with lower box office numbers. The total box office was down by 5.67% compared to last weekend. Early predictions had the comparison to the same weekend last year almost too close to call, and final results didn't clear matters up. Right now, we have this weekend down from the comparable weekend last year by a mere 0.82%. However, late numbers from limited releases that are not tracked by the big companies will push this weekend's number higher, but probably not the $1.2 million it needed lift it above last year. That makes this the 17th weekend in a row of declines on the year-to-year comparison, a new and dubious record. Year-to-date, 2005 has brought in $3.841 billion in box office revenue, down 6.6% from the same time last year. The Summer numbers are even worse at $1.34 billion; that's the worst start since 2001 and down 8.1% from last year.

The weekend didn't help Batman Begins rebound enough to overcome a slow start, as it only earned $48.7 million from Friday to Sunday, lower than Batman Forever, and that film was released 10 years ago. Its five-day total was just $72.9 million, which is a full $27 million below most people's expectations. How do you explain this? It can't be the word of mouth, since reviews were excellent, one of the best wide releases of the year. Batman & Robin was atrocious, but it's also 8 years old and most moviegoers won't hold a grudge that long. I was genuinely stumped by this result, and then it hit me, it's another case of the Hulk Effect. The Batmobile is so ugly; so very, very ugly that it turned off enough people that they refused to see the movie. OK, there's not a whole lot of evidence to back that claim up, but I'm sticking with it. On the positive side, the film should still show a profit, eventually, but perhaps not enough to justify reviving the franchise. Perhaps try one more sequel and see where it goes from there?

Mr. and Mrs. Smith's sophomore stint matched expectations nearly perfectly as it earned $26 million over the weekend for a running tally of almost $100 million. The film is already considered a hit, but the real question now is whether the film can top Hitch on the yearly charts. Mr. and Mrs. Smith does have quite a lead on that film comparing its daily numbers so far, but it is also dropping much faster and there's a lot more competition this time of year. It will be close but I think Hitch will hold on.

On the other hand, it looks like Madagascar will be able to capture second spot on this year's charts, possibly. With $10.7 million this weekend it should be able to reach $180 million and possibly as high as $200 million. However, War of the Worlds might overtake Hitch before Madagascar can.

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith rebounded nicely over the weekend, adding $10.0 million to take its box office total to $348.1 million so far. That was more than Attack of the Clones earned during the same weekend during its run, which is a very positive sign for the rest of the film's run. Predictions for the final box office tally are creeping up toward $400 million again, and while the film probably won't make it, it might come close enough for George Lucas to give it that extra push.

The Longest Yard also held up better than expected with $8.2 million and could become Adam Sandler's biggest hit of all time. It's already done the same for Burt Reynold.

Missing the top five was The Perfect Man, which could manage no better than eighth with $5.3 million. More troubling was the uncharacteristically small internal multiplier of 2.52. Looking for positive signs, the film was inexpensive and could show a profit on the home market, eventually. And at least Hilary Duff has her music career to fall back on.

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Filed under: Star Wars Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith, Batman Begins, Madagascar, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Longest Yard, The Perfect Man