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The Village Has a Thrilling Start

August 2nd, 2004

This weekend was another lesson in how hype can overcome bad reviews. It was also another lesson in how good reviews plus poor marketing results in a disappointing box office. Overall, the box office was again relatively flat from last weekend with just a 2.11% increase. It was up by 7.95% from last year; however, this weekend last year was the first weekend in August, so the 2003 to 2004 comparisons are not an accurate indicator. Year-to-date, 2004 continues to outpace 2003 by 6%, $5.63 billion to $5.33 billion.

The weekend box office for The Village was a case of hype versus merit. And as it usually works out, hype won, at least for a little while. The film took in more than $20 million on Friday alone, before stumbling on Saturday and finishing the weekend with $50.7 million, well above M. Night Shyamalan's average. But with the smaller internal multiplier and reviews that were surprisingly low, don't expect it to have the same level of legs. Also worth noting, this film had the fifth widest opening ever, but it easily has the lowest opening and per theatre average in the top ten on that chart. On the other hand, it's the first Disney movie in almost a year that will top $100 million at the box office, although it will have to wait till the international market to make a profit.

The Bourne Supremacy fell slightly further than expected to $24.2 million this weekend. That puts it just shy of $100 million after two weekends of release and it won't be long now before it tops the original's box office.

As expected, having the best reviews out of the wide releases this week meant little for The Manchurian Candidate. Earning only $20.0 million has to be a disappointment for Paramount, which has been struggling this year with only one real hit so far. An impressive internal multiplier of 3.27 normally indicates good word of mouth, which in turn should result in long legs. Combine those long legs at the domestic box office with decent international numbers and it could still save the film in the long run.

With the new releases failing to live up to expectations, I, Robot was able to finish one place higher than expected while its box office draw of $10.4 million was as close to expectations as one can expect. So far the film has earned almost $115 million, but should finish below original expectations. That makes its international numbers all the more important.

Last week I said that unless something unexpected happened, Spider-man 2 had spent its last week in the top five. But with two of the four new releases failing, the $8.6 million pulled in by the Marvel web-slinger was easily enough for a fifth place finish. The film is also just a week away from topping $350 million domestically.

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle was another film that struggled despite earning strong reviews. New Line's marketing department really dropped the ball on this one leading to a $5.5 million opening, which was only good enough for the film to open in seventh place. On the plus side, it could become a cult hit on the home market.

Thunderbirds failed to live up to greatly lowered expectations making just $2.8 million over the weekend, which was not even enough to open in the top ten. After factoring in the very poor reviews, the poor per theatre average and the already small theatre count and this film will be out of theatres in a just a few weeks.

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Filed under: Spider-Man 2, The Bourne Supremacy, I, Robot, The Village, The Manchurian Candidate, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Thunderbirds