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Be on the Lookout for Falling Records

March 5th, 2009

Is it ironic that a film called Watchmen is opening the same weekend we set our clocks ahead one hour? Perhaps this is part of some brilliant marketing strategy. Regardless, Watchmen is the only wide release of the week, and it has a lot of buzz surrounding it. So much so that it has a shot at breaking records, while earning more than all four big releases last year did combined.

Watchmen is the only wide release of the week, and at 3,611 theaters it is the widest release of the year so far, and the widest release ever for an R-rated movie. Given the amount of buzz this film is generating, a per theater average of just $10,000 would be a disappointment. Most expect it to be huge; in fact, with advance ticket sales ahead of 300's pace, there's talk we could see the biggest single day and biggest weekend for a March release. Reviews for Watchmen started out great, but have since slumped to 66% positive. Granted, that's better than most wide releases earn, including 300, and they are strong enough to be considered a selling point. That said, at one point it looked like Watchmen would best Coraline for the top-rated wide release this year. On the high end, $80 million isn't out of the question, while worst case scenario has its R-rating and its close to 3-hour running time keeping it from earning much more than $50 million. Most analysts seem to think the film will just top $70 million, and I tend to agree; it will be close enough that Sunday's studio estimates will give it the record, but I'm not sure they will hold come Monday when the actual numbers are released. As for the film's long term chances, good reviews plus Fanboy Effect still equals short legs. An opening north of $80 million and a final south of $200 million is a possibility. Then again, an opening south of $70 million and a final north of $200 million is also possible. We will have a better idea after the weekend.

Lack of direct competition from new releases, holdovers that suffered during the week, and the afterglow of its many Oscar wins could propel Slumdog Millionaire into second place with about $9 million. This would give it a running total of $127 million, while $150 million is within reach.

Tyler Perry films are known to start strong, then completely collapse. The average declines of his recent releases is nearly 60% during their second weekend of release, and they rarely do significantly better the third weekend out. This is bad news for Madea Goes to Jail, which could fall to under $7 million this weekend, and anything more than $8 million will likely be out of reach. Even so, the film has already shown a profit and Lionsgate has picked up his next two movies, so no one is complaining about the big declines.

The unstoppable Taken should add about $6 million to its total while remaining in the top five one more week. It has already been in the top five for a month, and there's a slim chance it will remain there next weekend as well.

When Miley Cyrus opened Best of Both Worlds last year, it opened big, but it collapsed just as fast. This year, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience missed expectations, but signs point to an even faster decline. For instance, the film earned weak reviews, especially compared to Best of Both Worlds's reviews. Additionally, its internal multiplier was much smaller at 2.52 compared to 3.60. Finally, midweek numbers are horrible and the film had lost 93% of its opening night box office by Wednesday, compared to a 67% decline for Miley Cyrus at the same point in its run. Everything here suggests a drop-off of 70%, or more. There only good news is that the film started off so poorly, that it is hard to imagine it being hit by such an extreme drop-off. Falling by 60% to $5 million is more likely, but missing the top five is not completely out of the question.


Filed under: Taken, Slumdog Millionaire, Watchmen, Madea Goes To Jail, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience