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Kong has Titanic-Like Start

December 16th, 2005

What should have been a weekend the movie industry would celebrate is now one filled with dread and foreboding. Saying King Kong didn't get off to the start the studio was hoping for could be the understatement of the year, but even so, a lot of analysts are cautiously optimistic that the film can rebound. Right now it's just a case of wait and see, but by the time Thursday's numbers are in, we should be in a much better position to know what the future holds.

I read a lot of box office predictions as part of my job, and the expectations for King Kong ranged from huge, to enormous to record-breaking. I even read some predictions that suggested the film could break Titanic's all-time record. Well, its opening day sure can be compared to the Titanic, but it was more like the boat than the movie. In fact, when I saw the initial Wednesday box office, I assumed it was a typo. It took four sites all confirming the same result before it sunk in. At first glance $9.8 million on Wednesday may seem like, well, like a disaster. But to put this into historical perspective, that's just behind the Wednesday opening of Catch Me If You Can and just ahead of Armageddon and those films went on to earn $165 million and $202 million respectively. And, in both cases they opened during school holidays. So King Kong could recover and its word-of-mouth should be amazing, but the massive expectations that some had are all but crushed. Best case scenario has the film earning $60 million over the next three days and about $80 million overall. Worst case scenario... I don't even want to talk about the worst case scenario other than to say it involves the film missing top spot by a substantial margin, something nobody thought was a possibility just a couple of days ago.

King Kong's troubles are good news for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which many had assumed would be crushed by the big guy. However, now it looks like it has a shot at retaining its weekend box office crown with as high as $40 million, but $37 million is a more likely target. That does give the film close to $120 million after 10 days, and puts it in great shape for the upcoming holidays.

The second newcomer of the week is The Family Stone, which looks to be solid counter-programming. It could have been more as early reviews were excellent, but they have since slipped and have fallen below the overall positive level. The studio is just hoping the film will crack the $10 million mark, which it should, but it won't get much beyond that.

Syriana is another film that didn't get off the to start the studio was hoping for, at least not when it went wide. It should, on the other hand, have better legs than most film, dropping as little as 30% over the weekend, which would give it just north of $8 million. However, $7.5 million seems a little more likely.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire should spend its last weekend in the top five with between $5 million and $6 million. That will push its running total beyond $250 million and ahead of Prisoner of Azkaban, which means the slump the franchise was in is officially over. It should also jump ahead of Batman into 33rd place on the All-Time Charts.


Filed under: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, King Kong, The Family Stone, Syriana