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Slowest Time of the Year Starts with a Wimper

September 5th, 2003

Last weekend I told you than The Labor Day long weekend is the slowest long weekend of the year. The rest of September is traditionally the slowest time of the year. And this year it looks to break no traditions with only two marginal releases.

The box office should be led by Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, the latest David Spade movie. Reviews for Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star are almost twice as good as Spade's previous movie, Joe Dirt, but at 19% that's not much praise. Joe Dirt made $8 million during its opening weekend, but it opening in several hundred more theatres and during a more lucrative time at the box office. Better reviews and higher ticket prices will leave Dickie Roberts with the same opening weekend.

Many families saw movies last Monday to celebrate back to school, ok, the parents were celebrating while the children were mourning. I think a significant number will also go to movies this weekend as a treat for the children who survived the first week. This should help Freaky Friday maintain most of its box office. $6.5 million is good, but not quite good enough to cross $100 million this week.

Poor reviews, sequel effect, horror genre, post long weekend and the general ennui of 2003 will lead to a massive drop at the box office for Jeepers Creepers 2. Look for a drop just north of 60% for a weekend box office of $6 million.

Very few movies have shown real legs at the box office this year. So far this year's champion has to be Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl which, if my calculations are correct, will move up a spot on the charts for a second week in a row. Also, the $5.5 million earned will push it past The Matrix Reloaded into second place for the year.

Spending its last week in the top five will be Open Range. Another $5.0 million will increase its total past $50 million in four weeks. That may not seem like much compared to the $300 million Pirates of the Caribbean is shooting for, but it's the best Kevin Costner effort since Waterworld.

And that leads us to the second new release of the week, The Order. How bad are the prospects for The Order? Firstly, it wasn't screened for reviewers and that's never a good sign. Secondly, it has been bounced around to no less than four release dates, also not a good sign. And it underwent a name change after a disastrous preview screening in 2002. And now it has been dumped during the weakest time of the year in fewer than 2000 theatres. An opening weekend of only $4 million and a quick exit from theatres is the most likely result.

On a more positive note, American Wedding should break through the $100 million barrier this weekend. If it does it will be the 20th movie to do so this year, with Freaky Friday becoming 21st just a few days later. It's almost a lock that 2003 will set the record for most $100 million movies in a single year. With a couple of surprises we may even see 30 $100 million movies this year.


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Filed under: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Freaky Friday, American Wedding, Open Range, Jeepers Creepers II, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, The Order