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Head Hopes to Finish on Top

April 3rd, 2008

April starts of with a... with a... well, it starts this week. We have three wide releases this week, but none seem destined for greatness. In fact, it's a limited release that might have the most exciting box office result of the week, even if it doesn't reach the top ten. On the other end, there should at least be a logjam at the top, giving box office watchers something to talk about.

Leatherheads is the film with the best shot at first place, even though it is opening in the fewest theaters of the three wide releases. The romantic comedy stars George Clooney, who also directed the movie. This should give it a leg up at the box office, and in a tight race like this, every little bit helps. It is also earning some of the best reviews for a wide release this week. However, it is still aptly described as merely average. It is important to note that for a romantic comedy, reviews that crack 50% positive is a very good sign and Leatherheads should win over many fans of the genre. That should give it first place over the weekend with roughly $16 million, which is not a huge number, but it is enough to be a midlevel hit.

The only other wide release with a shot at first place is Nim's Island. This film is the widest release of the week, opening in 3,513 theaters, while its reviews are currently at exactly 50% positive, which is marginally better than expected. That will not be strong enough to help at the box office, although at least it is not a liability either. The ad campaign has picked up a little more that I expected, which should help it into second place with $14 million. Combined with a younger demographic, it should show stronger legs at the box office than Leatherheads, but that is too close to call.

21's opening was surprisingly brisk last weekend, but it must avoid an equally fast decline this weekend. Its midweek numbers have not been particularly strong, which raises the possibility of a greater than 50% drop-off over the weekend. That would leave the film with under $12 million this weekend, but $13 million is more likely. This puts the film within striking distance of first place, but that is admittedly a long shot.

On the other hand, it has to look out for Horton Hears a Who, which should come in fourth place with just over $11 million. Any weakness shown by 21 or strength shown by Horton Hears a Who and these two films could finish in the opposite order.

The final wide release of the week is The Ruins, an extremely generic name for a horror film with an unusual killer. The film's trailer was ineffective and it won't be helped by its reviews, as there are none. There have been several horror films released this year, most of which were not screened for critics and that turned out to be a smart move in every case. Additionally, none of the horror films released this year have done particularly well at the box office, and that seems unlikely to change now. Good news, the competition is light and even a $5 million opening should place it in the top five. I think $8 million is more likely, while it has an outside shot at $10 million or more.

While there are no new wide releases this week, there is another new film that could squeak into the top ten. Shine a Light is a Rolling Stones concert film / documentary directed by Martin Scorsese. Right away this should pique the interest of a lot of moviegoers. Reviews have been excellent, but it is the third concert released this year. U2 3D opened in 61 theaters with a per theater average of $15,000, which is good for the genre. On the other hand, Hannah Montana / Miley Cyrus opened in 683 theaters with an average of more than $45,000, which was a record-breaking result. Sadly, the former is a lot more likely than the latter. (On a side note, am I the only one weirded out by the fact that Miley Cyrus is about to crush the Rolling Stones at the box office? ... Didn't think I was.) Using U2 3D as a guide, Shine a Light should open with an average of $7,500 in its 276 theaters, which would give it just over $2 million. This won't be enough to reach the top ten. But if it can crack $10,000 on the per theater chart, then it could grab tenth place.


Filed under: Horton Hears a Who, Nim's Island, Leatherheads, The Ruins, Shine a Light, 21