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Panda vs. Hairdresser

June 5th, 2008

June starts off with two potential blockbusters. Fortunately, they share nearly none of their respective target audiences and this could help them both reach their potential. Kung Fu Panda and You Don't Mess With the Zohan are both opening in more than 3,000 theaters (4,000 in the case of the former), and both should hit $10,000 on the per theater chart. Considering this weekend last year was weaker than expected, this bodes well for 2008's shot at playing catch-up.

This weekend, Kung Fu Panda is opening mega-wide (a film opening in 4,000 theaters or more), the 16th such release of all time and the third of this year alone. There are obviously a lot of theater owners who think the movie will be a monster hit, and with good reason. It is the first digitally animated film of the summer, and only the second major release for that medium all year. Since the over-saturation of the market appears to have ended, that should boost the box office of the individual films. The word-of-mouth should be excellent, as it is one of the best reviewed wide releases of the year, earning an amazing Tomatometer score of 83% positive. The marketing campaign is solid, and the buzz is strong. (And it feels like a G-rated movie despite its PG-rating, which should encourage families.) This adds up to an impressive opening for Kung Fu Panda of $53 million, which is a little higher than the average analyst is predicting, but not outrageously so.

You Don't Mess With the Zohan is the latest comedic vehicle for Adam Sandler. This time around he plays a Mossad agent who fakes his death so he can live out his dream: moving to New York City and becoming a hairdresser. It's kind of a high concept comedy, which tend to be a little harder to sell. However, he was able to open Click with just a shade over $40 million and that film ended its run with more than $137 million. Then again, Little Nicky ended its run with under $40 million in total. Good news, this film is earning better reviews that either of those films, and is in line with his career average. I don't expect the movie to win over many new converts like the early buzz suggested it could, but it doesn't have to to become a hit. Expectations for You Don't Mess With the Zohan are bullish with the film aiming for a per theater average of more than $10,000, which combined with its opening theater count of 3,462 gives the film a lower level of close to $35 million. On the other end, it could score close to $50 million. I'm going with a final prediction of just hair over $40 million during its opening weekend, the fifth such opening in Sandler's career, while it will end with more than $100 million, making it the ninth film to reach the century mark for the actor.

After last Friday's numbers were released, many thought Sex and the City would open with $70 million and finish its box office run with $200 million, or more. Then the weekend estimates had it collapsing as the weekend progressed and there were more than a few who thought that perhaps it wouldn't reach $100 million in total, as it was being crushed by the Fan-boy (or -girl) Effect. However, its midweek numbers have been very solid, which indicates a more mature audience, and one that is unlikely to hit this film opening weekend and then move onto the next big thing. Additionally, the two wide releases coming out this weekend do not offer much in the way of direct competition for Sex and the City, which further improves the film's chances. It could still collapse and fall 60%, or more, which would leave it with $22 million, or less, at the box office. On the other hand, it could avoid the 50% drop-off mark with $27 million. Like I said on Monday, Sex and the City earned $10 million more than expected on Friday, but then settled in and went almost exactly as prediction. If we used the $45 million as its opening weekend, subtract 45%, which is how much Prada fell during its second weekend of release, it gives us between $24 and $25 million. And that's the number I'm going with. That should be enough to push the film's running tally to just over $100 million, making it the fifth film of the year to do so.

Next up is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which is looking to overtake Iron Man for top spot for the year. In the end, it could be close, and it certainly won't happen this weekend. Crystal Skull could earn between $22 and $23 million over the next three days, which would push its total to over $250 million domestically, but that will leave it $40 million behind Iron Man. On the other hand, Iron Man is shedding theaters rapidly, and won't last in theaters too much longer.

Strangers beat nearly all expectations last weekend, however, it appears it won't be able to maintain its early momentum. Its midweek numbers have been very poor, the worst in the top ten, and Zohan will present some direct competition in the young male demographic. A 60% drop-off is not out of the question, which would leave it with just over $8 million over the weekend. Even the best case scenario has it barely cracking $10 million over the weekend. Most likely scenario has it pulling just $9.5 million over the weekend. However, even if it fails to reach $8 million, it will still be a financially successful film thanks to its $9 million production budget.


Filed under: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Kung Fu Panda, Sex and the City, You Don't Mess With the Zohan, The Strangers