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Force to be Reckoned With

July 28th, 2009

As expected, the weekend box office was soft compared to last week, as well as the same weekend last year. That said, it was not as bad as it could have been and all three new releases topped expectations. Overall, total ticket sales were $151 million over the weekend, down 5.8% from last weekend and 16% from last year. Year-to-day, 2009 still has a substantial lead over 2008 at $6.22 billion to $5.76 billion and even the lack of a The Dark Knight type hit won't be enough to close that gap. It would take an extended slump at the box office before 2009 relinquished its lead.

Despite reviews that can be described as horrible, G-Force was stronger than expected earning top spot with $31.71 million. I believe I underestimated the film's 3D appeal, as well as the premium paid for tickets to 3D showings. Or maybe Zach Galifianakis is a bigger box office draw than I thought it was. It's future is not all rosy; not only are its reviews terrible, but it didn't show great legs for a kids movie and by Sunday it has slipped to second place behind Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I suspect with Aliens in the Attic opening this week and Shorts opening next week, the competition will be too great for the film and it won't be able to reach $100 million. It should come close, but I suspect it will come up short.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince fell to second place during its sophomore stint with $29.46 million over the weekend and a total of $221.30 million after two. This is not the biggest drop-off in the franchise's history, The Prisoner of Azkaban holds that honor. But normally a Wednesday opening results in a softer sophomore stint decline, so this is still a little troubling. That said, by this time next week the film could have as much as $250 million, while it should finish no worse than average for the series, or at least very close to average.

The Ugly Truth was also stronger than expected with $27.61 million, which is a strong opening for a romantic comedy. Not strong enough to suggest it will reach $100 million, especially with its reviews, but enough to ensure Katherine Heigl continues to be offered the lead in movies like this. On the other hand, her box office numbers outside the genre have been weak, so she could be in danger of being typecast.

Orphan also beat expectations, barely. It finished within a rounding error of Thursday's predictions with $12.87 million. With mixed reviews and a genre that can be unforgiving, it is likely that this film's theatrical run won't last very long, but assuming it has a multiplier that isn't tragically low, it should make enough money theatrically to show a profit some time during the film's home market run.

It appears the competition for 3D screens was greater than expected, which caused Ice Age - Dawn of the Dinosaurs to shrink to just $8.41 million over the weekend. It's running tally now sits at $171.50 million, which makes $200 million likely out of reach, as a shrinking theater count will hurt the film in the coming weeks.


Filed under: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, G-Force, The Ugly Truth, Orphan