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Box Office Obsession

April 23rd, 2009

It's the final weekend before the start of the summer blockbuster season, which means there are not a lot of prime films coming out. Studios don't want to risk A-list films when they only have one week to grab as much box office as possible before they are crushed by the competition. Last year's releases were better than expected, and 2009's winning streak over 2008 is in jeopardy. Not only that, but that could be an omen for things to come, as I'm not sure there are as many monster hits this summer as there were last summer.

Obsessed is the clear favorite amongst box office analysts to come out on top this coming weekend. It's the widest release of the week, even though it is only opening in 2500 theaters, but I'm not sure of its quality, as there are no reviews over on Rotten Tomatoes. That's not a good sign, but an effective ad campaign should help, at least over the first weekend. Don't expect a monster opening, or even one as strong as 17 Again's opening last weekend, but the thriller should finish in first place with $18 million.

Earth is a tough movie to predict when it comes to its box office potential. It is a re-edited version of a TV documentary that has already been shown here, and released on home market. In fact, its HD DVD version is one of the all-time best selling releases in that format. On the one hand, that's great advertisement for the theatrical release. On the other hand, a lot of people who are in the target audience for this movie have already seen it. That said, the reviews are amazing, among the best we've seen this year. Add in its $4 million opening night on Wednesday, and you have to feel good about the film's chances. Granted, Wednesday was Earth Day, and that had to help out last night, but even so, close to $12 million and second place over the weekend is still a possibility. I am a lot more bullish about this film's chance than most, so take that into account.

17 Again should finish right behind with just over $11 million over the weekend, which is about 50% lower than its opening weekend. On the one hand, it does have better than expected reviews going for it. On the other hand, its target demographic can be a little finicky at times, and the Fangirl Effect could sink it this coming weekend. A 60% drop-off isn't out of the question, but I think it will avoid that fate with $11 million over the next three days for a total of $40 million after ten.

The Soloist finally hits theaters after being pushed back from last November. Going from the heart of Awards Season to the end of April is a bad sign, even if the first move was due in part to the dissolution of the partnership between Paramount and Dreamworks. But the move from March to late April is likely due to lack of confidence in the film's box office chances. I'm not sure if this was a necessary movie, as reviews have not been that bad. Even the negative reviews have praised Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr. for their performances in the film. Then again, even many positive reviews have complained about the lack of narrative focus in the film. Add in the theater count that is barely above the 2000 level needed to be considered truly wide, and there's not a lot of hope that the movie will be a huge hit. It could crack $10 million over the weekend, maybe even $12 million giving it a shot at second place. Or it could flop and not reach $12 million in total. Look for an opening weekend of $9 million.

State of Play and Monsters vs. Aliens should be in a close fight for fifth place, each earning between $8 and $9 million over the weekend. I think the former has a slight edge, but either could land in top five.

The only other film with a shot at a top five finish is Fighting. The film is opening in more theaters than expected and with better reviews than I expected, but it is still opening in barely more than 2300 theaters, and with reviews that are only 34% positive. Its two leads don't have a strong track records when it comes to carrying films at the box office, but there's always a chance this film could surprise. Second place with $12 million is not out of the question, but I think sixth place with $8 million is more likely.


Filed under: Monsters vs. Aliens, Obsessed, 17 Again, State of Play, Earth, The Soloist, Fighting