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October 7th, 2008

Of the eight films that opened or expanded on Friday, only two were able to do some serious business, while most were lucky if they topped the Mendoza line by earning more than $2,000 per theater. It was just a disaster, in many ways. That said, it was still the first weekend in October and the overall box office was up 13% from last weekend to $113 million. More importantly, it was 35% higher than the same weekend last year. Year-to-date, 2008 closed the gap with 2007. 2008 is just a little below and 2007 a little above $7.25 billion. By this time next week, 2008 could retake the lead, at least in terms of raw dollars.

As expected, Beverly Hills Chihuahua easily won the weekend box office race, scoring $29.30 million over the three days. The film's reviews were not good, but not horrific either, and given the film's family friendly nature, it should have strong legs over the coming weeks. That is, unless the upcoming competition is stronger than expected.

Eagle Eye held up better than expected, down less than 40% to $17.71 million over the weekend for a total of $54.61 million so far. At this pace $90 million is certainly within reach, while $100 million can't be entirely discounted. However, we have to see how well it holds up against stronger, more direct competition over the coming weeks.

The only other wide release to crack $10 million was Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which placed third with $11.31 million. This is a little lower than Thursday's prediction, but it is a fantastic result for a film that cost about $10 million to make. Add in the best reviews of the week, and it could have strong enough legs to show a profit before the end of its theatrical run, which is something only one in ten films can accomplish.

Nights in Rodanthe was within a rounding error of Thursday's prediction with $7.37 million over the weekend and $25.09 million after two. It should end up as a midlevel hit, but nothing more.

Appaloosa was the only new release to beat expectations as it placed in the top five with $5.05 million to give it a total of $5.61 million, including one week of limited release. Its per theater average was just shy of $5,000, which seems to indicate limited prospects at expanding much further, but it should hold on to the theaters it has. The same can not be said of most of the rest of wide releases.

For instance, An American Carol took its brand of "America: Love it or Leave" faux-patriotism to 1,600 theaters and wound up with just $3.66 million at the box office. Its per theater average of $2,231 is not significantly better than Mendoza Line. Add in reviews that are in danger of slipping to single digits and there's little chance it will stick around in theaters long.

On the other hand, Religulous' per theater average was the second best in the top ten, and it earned $3.41 million in just 502 screens. Good reviews and a controversial nature could help the film last well past $10 million, or the hype could die down and with it go its box office numbers. Regardless of which way it goes, the studio should be happy with its start so far, while profitability is almost assured.

Flash of Genius just missed the top ten with $2.25 million in 1,098 theaters giving it a per theater average of just $2,050. It also saw its reviews drop from close to 80% positive, to less than 60% positive. Given those two facts, there is practically no way for the film to recover now, and there's a chance that it won't be remembered by the time it reaches the home market, which won't be that long.

Blindness was one of the biggest disappointments of the weekend, and that's saying a lot. The film brought in just $1.95 million in 1,690 theaters for an average of $1,154, which is beyond bad. Add in reviews that were sub-par and there's little hope for the film's future.

Someone at MGM needs to be fired. ... Perhaps everyone at MGM needs to be fired. Granted, not every film every studio distributes can be a big hit, but this studio's track record is abysmal. It's beyond abysmal. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is the latest catastrophe, earning just $1.43 million in 1,750 theaters for an average of $817. Given that start, the film's reviews don't matter, but they won't help either.

Moving onto the sophomore class, Fireproof was surprisingly strong, down just 41% to $3.99 million over the past three days for a total of $12.41 million after ten. At this pace, $20 million is practically a lock, which should be more than enough to show a profit. On the other hand, The Miracle at St. Anna struggled, with its weekend haul sliced neatly in half to $1.74 million over the weekend, lifting its total to $6.33 million.


Filed under: Eagle Eye, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Nights in Rodanthe, Fireproof, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Religulous, Miracle at St. Anna, Blindness, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, Appaloosa, An American Carol