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Sex Starts Early on Memorial Day

May 28th, 2010

Memorial Day long weekend started early with the midnight release of Sex and the City 2, but it's not the only saturation level release debuting this weekend. With the weakness shown last weekend by Shrek Forever After, the industry is looking forward with a bit of trepidation. Should both of these stumble, the narrative going forward will be quite negative, as none of the May releases will have excelled. This time last year, Up opened with close to $70 million. I don't think either film will match that, especially over three days. But their combined strength will hopefully give 2010 a boost at the box office.

Sex and the City 2 began its box office run at midnight, pulling in $3 million in midnight shows. This is impressive, as Sex and the City is not the kind of movie that usually gets midnight shows. However, the first Sex and the City did and it earned about $2.5 million. So this represents a 20% increase, which is not insignificant. If that increase were carried through the rest of the weekend, then we would be looking at a $70 million opening. However, there are some reasons to be more cautious. For instance, there's the Sequel Effect, which states that such films generally start faster than their predecessors, but also see faster declines. Also, this film's reviews are tragic and much weaker than the first film's reviews. On the other hand, Sex and the City had a huge Fangirl Effect and there's part of me that thinks, "Really, how much worse can it get?" I do believe we will see some growth over the first film's opening, but because it will be spread over four days, the Friday to Sunday number will likely drop a bit. That said, I think it could pull in $80 million over the first five days, while it might not match that figure over the rest of its run.

The second wide release of the week is Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. This video game adaptation is aimed at the exact opposite target audience as Sex and the City 2, so the two films shouldn't cannibalize each other's audiences. That's good news for both films' chances at the box office. Also, its reviews are acceptable for this type of movie. (It doesn't hurt that the target audience tends to be less demanding in its entertainment choices.) It is also the widest release of the week and doesn't have a Thursday opening diluting its weekend haul. On the other hand, the buzz isn't particularly strong and very few people think it will top the chart from Friday to Monday. It might not even reach second place, finishing in a virtual tie with Shrek Forever After. I think Persia will come out in front over the three-day weekend, while the boost from the Holiday Monday will give Shrek enough of an advantage to win over four. Look for just under $40 million over three days and just over $50 million over four.

Shrek Forever After should hold on relatively well, as family films tend to benefit the most from holiday weekends. While its reviews are far from award-worthy, they are strong enough that many kids will want to see the movie again, and there's little else in the way of direct competition. Like I stated, I think this film will be in a very close race for the second spot with Prince of Persia losing out over the three-day weekend $38 million to $39 million, but winning over four days $54 million to $52 million, lifting its running tally to $143 million.

The long weekend will obviously help out Iron Man 2 at the box office, as will its reviews, which are still the best of any wide release this summer. However, it does have direct competition and that will filter off some of its potential audience. That said, it should still add about $18 million over the next four days, pushing its running tally to $275 million. At this pace, it will have little trouble getting to $300 million, but it will be pushed out of the top five before it gets there.

As for Robin Hood, it is in the same situation as Iron Man 2, only with weaker reviews and even more direct competition. (Prince of Persia and Robin Hood are both historical fictions while Iron Man 2 is a futuristic Sci-Fi.) It should fall a little faster to $12 million over the weekend for a total of $84 million after three.


Filed under: Sex and the City 2, Shrek Forever After, Robin Hood, Iron Man 2, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time