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Can Date Night Topple Titan?

April 8th, 2010

There could be quite a battle for top spot at the box office this weekend. It all depends on how fast Date Night can start, as well as how far Clash of the Titans will fall. There was a similar dynamic this time last year when the newcomer, Hannah Montana, was able to come away with a relatively comfortable win over the holdover, Fast & Furious. This time around, I think it will be a closer race, while overall the box office appears to be a little weaker.

The only truly wide release of the week is Date Night, which has Tina Fey and Steve Carell teaming up as a married couple whose relationship has hit a bit of a funk and their attempt to spice things up goes a little too far. Given the two stars, I was very hopeful that it would be a good movie. Given the film's director, I wasn't. No offense to Shawn Levy, but in the eight years he has been directing movies, he hasn't managed to make one that earned overall positive reviews. That is until now. At the moment Date Movie's Tomatometer Score is sitting at a very healthy 65% positive. Granted, that's not Oscar worthy, but for the type of film, it is a strong enough to be considered a selling point. Also helping its cause are the ads, which are not only effective, but they have a wide presence as well. The studio is giving the film an aggressive ad campaign. Finally, it's the only wide release of the week, which should also help it maximize its potential. Given all of this, it could top $30 million over the weekend, while even the low end has it coming close to $25 million. I'm going with $28 million, but I hope I'm pleasantly surprised.

There have already been four films released in 2010 to reach $100 million at the box office, and Clash of the Titans will join that group over the weekend. The real question is how well it can hold up and will it have a chance to remain in top spot. A greater than 60% drop-off is possible, which would leave the film below $25 million over the weekend and give it a running tally of $108 million. Even the best case scenario has the film struggling to reach $30 million over the weekend. Looking at the numbers, they match those of Date Night nearly perfectly, so there could be a very tight race on top. I think it will come out second, but with a still strong $26 million, while it is racing toward $150 million overall. As long as it does well internationally and on the home market, it should show a profit sooner rather than later, and I suspect we could see more of these mythological adventure movies in the future. There is certainly a lot of material to borrow from.

How to Train Your Dragon showed a better than expected drop-off during its second weekend of release and topped $100 million on Tuesday. Now it is looking to ride its Oscar-worthy reviews further at the box office. On the high end, it could add more than $20 million during the upcoming weekend, perhaps even battle for second place should Clash of the Titans collapse. It will probably miss that mark and earn just under $20 million, while it should finish with north of $150 million in the end.

On the one hand, Why Did I Get Married? topped expectations during its opening. On the other hand, Tyler Perry's films tend to collapse quite quickly. A 50% drop-off is almost guaranteed, while 60% is not out of the question. Splitting the difference and we get a 55% drop-off and a $13 million over the weekend for a total of $51 million after two.

The Last Song will be harmed by its reviews, which will lead to a 50% decline this weekend. However, that will still give it $8 million over the weekend and $40 million after two, while it should finish its run with more than $50 million, making it a solid mid-level hit.

There's one more new release with a shot to finish in the top ten, Letters to God. It's a family film aimed at the churchgoing set, which means despite opening in less than 900 theaters, it could make more than $5 million at the box office. Or it could open with less than $1 million. A nearly total lack of reviews makes it hard to figure out which end it more likely, so I'm going to be conservative and say tenth place with $3 million.


Filed under: Date Night, The Last Song, How to Train Your Dragon, Clash of the Titans, Letters to God, Why Did I Get Married Too?