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The Pros of Cons of the Movie Business

February 28th, 2008

Wide releases are rather limited this week with only one film debuting in more than 3,000 theaters while the other two are opening in barely more than 1,000 each. Overall, the new releases do have a lot more strength than last weekend, but not compared to last year. In fact, all three wide releases combined might not earn as much this weekend as Wild Hogs opened with last year, which is bad news for a market that is starting to slip in the year-to-year race.

Semi-Pro continues Will Ferrell's particular brand of comedy, which can be described as, "Grown Men Screaming Like Idiots." While this worked in Talladega Nights, critics have been less kind here. "Semi-funny" seems to be the most popular way of describing the film. Even so, it is a Will Ferrell film and his track record in these types of films is very strong, so it would be a huge shock if Semi-Pro didn't top the charts this week. Look for the film to earn just over $30 million this weekend, but it won't have as good legs as some previous efforts and $100 million is likely out of reach.

Remember, our weekly box office prediction contests are back! Check out Not For Amateurs and predict Semi-Pro's opening weekend box office for a chance to win cool prizes.

Vantage Point earned just over $22 million last weekend and looks to add about $12 million this weekend. On the one hand, the reviews are on the weak side while the film does have to deal with quite a bit of competition. On the other hand, the male demographic that is interested in Semi-Pro is a little less mature... I mean younger, it is younger than the demographic interested in Vantage Point. This should help the film avoid a 50% drop-off, and it might even keep more than 60% of its opening weekend audience. However, $12 million is the safest prediction.

The Spiderwick Chronicles had the best reviews in the top five last weekend, and will do the same this weekend. These reviews, as well as the film's target audience, should help it hold on very well this weekend. It could drop less than 30% this weekend, which would give it just over $9 million at the box office, but a fraction under $9 million is more likely. That is still a very strong hold and would give the film $55 million in total.

Jumper is losing a sizable chunk of its theater count tomorrow and, combined with its weak reviews and direct competition, that should lead to another big drop-off this weekend. 50% is almost guaranteed while 60% isn't out of the question. Splitting the difference would give the film just under $6 million over the weekend, and even though most are predicting just over $6 million, I think under is more likely.

The next wide release of the week is The Other Boleyn Girl, which is based on the novel by Philippa Gregory, which apparently has almost no basis in reality. The film is opening in far too few theaters to be considered truly wide, and it is also opening with far too few ads and that's usually a fatal combination. The reviews are not bad, but not good, and the best the film can hope for is a $5,000 per theater average, which would give the film just under $6 million over the weekend and fifth place on the charts. However, there is certainly the prospect that the film will struggle to earn half that figure, which would leave it out of the top ten. I think it will earn between $4 million and $5 million, which may or may not be enough to keep it ahead of Step Up 2 the Streets and in the top five.

The final wide release of the week is Penelope. The film was previously scheduled for April release, April of last year, but was bounced around a few release dates before finally settling on February 29th. This does not inspire confidence, nor does the theater count, which is just less than 1,200. Add in nearly no TV ads, a star that hasn't had a film open with more than $10 million this millenium, and reviews that are only mixed (but the best the week has to offer), and you have a film that might not open in the top ten. It would only need to earn just over $3 million to do so, which is the most likely outcome for the film this weekend, but under $2 million is also a possibility.


Filed under: Jumper, Vantage Point, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Step Up 2 the Streets, Semi-Pro, The Other Boleyn Girl, Penelope