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Box Office needs a Little Help

November 4th, 2005

There are just the two wide releases this weekend: the prime attraction and the counter programming. While this usually means both films will maximize their box office, this probably won't be the case this weekend. Part of the problem is the box office slump we're in; people are just not interested in going to the movies at the moment. In May, it took a monster hit to start the summer box office session when it normally starts the first week of the month. Likewise, November usually starts off with a bang, but since October was so weak it will probably take until the first monster hit of the month before we see a serious increase in the overall box office.

Disney should be hoping to emulate The Incredibles' box office with Chicken Little, but unfortunately for them, it looks to have a lot more in common with Shark Tale. For instance, its reviews are well below average for the genre at just 38% positive. The main complaint seems to be that while the film is technically brilliant, the story just isn't original enough nor compelling enough. Even so, the film does have the Disney marketing might behind it and that should give the film a reasonable $35 million opening and a final box office north of $125 million.

The latest Oscar hopefully to hit theatres is Jarhead, but its reviews appear to be too weak to garner the more prestigious awards. That is not to say its reviews are bad, a Tomatometer reading of 57% positive is better than average for a wide release, but it's not up to the caliber needed to score many Oscar nominations, especially the more prestigious ones. The film cost $72 million to make, which is lower than the $85 million I estimated, but still a little high compared to the predicted opening of $21 million.

Next up is Saw II, which is a horror sequel with bad reviews and is therefore likely to see a huge drop-off this weekend. A 50% drop-off is practically guaranteed while a 60% drop-off could be in the works. I think the final result will be closer to the latter giving the film just shy of $14 million.

Next up is another sequel, The Legend of Zorro. The main difference between this film and the pervious one is The Legend of Zorro is a family film, and that should help its legs. Even so, it should still see a drop-off greater than 40%, which will leave it with $9.5 million for the weekend and just shy of $30 million for its run.

Rounding out the top five should be Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, which is adding another 126 theatres to its theatre count, which should mitigate some of the usual week-to-week declines. Without much in the way of competition, it should be enough to keep the film in the top five one last time with just under $4 million.

Lastly, Zathura has a second sneak peak this Saturday in just over 500 theatres. The previous one resulted in strong audience reaction but a low turnout, so the studio needs to increase the buzz around this movie if they want it to succeed.

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Filed under: Chicken Little, Saw II, Jarhead, The Legend of Zorro, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, Zathura