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Rambo and Cloverfield Fight for Top Spot

January 24th, 2008

It's the final weekend in January and so far the month has been stronger than expected. Hopefully that will continue this weekend, and at the very least there should be a good battle at the top between, Rambo and Cloverfield.

For the second time in just over a year, Sylvester Stallone tries to revive an old franchise. This time it's Rambo. After Rocky Balboa impressed critics and did better at the box office than some were expecting, Rambo's stock started to rise. However, with weak reviews, it has returned to Earth. The movie is not terrible, but more in line with the average January release and reviews are significantly worse than anticipated. While it probably won't live up to original expectations, it has a good shot at first place with just over $17 million this weekend while it could end its run with close to $50 million, which is in line with its reported production budget. In other words, it should end up a mid-level hit that will show a large enough profit to please studios, but not big enough that they will risk another sequel. However, any weakness and Cloverfield will repeat as champion and without the free press the first place finish generates, it won't have as strong legs.

Speaking of which, Cloverfield's impressive win last weekend looks to be followed by a steep, steep decline. Weekday numbers were down more than 20% Tuesday to Wednesday alone. Add in direct competition in the form of Rambo, and this film is tracking for a 60% drop-off, or more. This would leave it with just under $17 million during its sophomore stint, which would still give it just under $70 million in total. However, even the worst-case scenario ($15 million or so), would still leave the film with at least a small shot at $100 million in total and profitability early in the film's international run. Additionally, for each dollar Rambo misses its expectations, this film should gain and with margins as tight as they are, it won't take much to see the monster movie claw its way to the top again.

On the other hand, 27 Dresses should hold on a lot better despite weaker reviews. Part of this has to do with the lack of direct competition, but the genre also helps. A 40% drop-off would be a good sign for the future and that would give the film just under $14 million over the weekend and about $45 million in total. That's a good start and could be enough to match its production budget in less than 10 days.

The second wide release of the week is Meet the Spartans, the latest pseudo-spoof to come along and kill the genre. This one is not being screened for critics, which is a big relief to people who review movies for a living. I suspect that after the weekend the film will have only a handful of positive reviews and a Tomatometer score in the single digits. On the other hand, it should score fourth place at the box office with roughly $13 million, which is more than enough to convince the studio to greenlight yet another film like this.

Up next is Untraceable, the latest attempt in Hollywood's ongoing campaign to prove they know nothing about the internet. This time around, the internet is being portrayed as a tool for a sadistic serial killer who invites people to his site and the more visits he gets, the faster the victim dies. At least the victims are not forced to watch this movie. It's not in the worst movie of the year running, but it is well below the 20% threshold and in the avoid-at-all-costs category. The film is also likely to struggle at the box office as it is aiming for a more mature target audience than most torture porn movies do, but these people are a lot more likely to read reviews, and a lot more likely to be turned off by the level of violence in the movie. Missing the top five is not unlikely, but I'm predicting it will just grab the final spot with $10 million over the weekend and about $25 million in total.

The final wide release of the week is also the best-reviewed wide release of the week. However, there is little chance How She Move will come out on top. In fact, there's little chance it will reach the top five. The Canadian movie just doesn't have enough star power in its cast not enough marketing power to push it over the top. That said, it could surprise over the weekend like other dancing movies aimed at African-Americans like last year's Stomp the Yard. But it is much more likely that this film will finish its theatrical run with less than that movie opened with as it appears to be tracking for a $5 million opening.


Filed under: Cloverfield, Rambo, Meet the Spartans, Untraceable, How She Move, 27 Dresses