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Most New Releases Turn Out to be Dogs

October 13th, 2008

With four wide releases this past weekend, I knew not all of them would be hits, but I also didn't expect all of them to be misses. Perhaps that's not entirely fair, and given the production budgets involved, not all films flopped at the box office, but enough did that overall box office receipts dropped 10% to $102 million. Compared to the same week last year, that still represents an increase, albeit by less than 3%, which is more or less in line with ticket price inflation. Year-to-date, 2008 and 2007 have both brought in $7.38 billion, but 2008 has had the edge the past few weeks and could retake the lead this upcoming weekend.

On the one hand, Beverly Hills Chihuahua did not do as well as expected during its sophomore stint, falling 40% to $17.50 million. However, due to much weaker competition, it still remained in first place for the second weekend in a row. Meanwhile, its running tally rose to $52.53 million, but it is hard to imagine it will reach $100 million. Especially with High School Musical 3 just two weeks away. That film will likely kill the competition.

I'm confused. Why did the studio refuse to screen Quarantine for critics? Its reviews were at the overall positive level, which is better than most of the rest of the top ten. They were likely strong enough to help its word-of-mouth, which in turn helped in into second place with $14.21 million. Since the film reportedly only cost $12 million to make, there is no way the studio isn't ecstatic about its opening so far, and while I'm more interested in the DVD release of [REC], horror fans should be happy with this offering.

Next up was Body of Lies with $12.88 million, which is way below expectations. Granted, the reviews were barely above 50% positive, but given its impressive cast and its director, one has to be shocked at its poor box office performance. Even if it doesn't suffer from a severe drop-off next weekend, its per theater average will still fall enough that losing a large chunk of its theater count on week three is likely. Matching its production budget domestically is out of the question, but it might do significantly better internationally.

Eagle Eye continues to outperform expectations, taking in $10.91 million over the weekend for a total of $70.41 million in total. At this pace $100 million will be hard to reach, but that possibility can't be discounted either.

Rounding out the top five was a surprise entry, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. This film is aimed at a fickle crowd, and a 50% drop-off would have been seen as average. However, thanks in part to its best reviews of the month it fell just 43% to $6.42 million over the weekend for a total of $20.73 million. It has earned enough that the studio's share of the box office is enough to cover the film's production budget, even if it is at the high end of the various reports ($9 to $13 million). It is unlikely that this film will do much business internationally, but even so it should show a sizable profit during its initial push into the home market.

There were other new releases this week, but they both struggled missing the Mendoza Line by a significant margin.

The Express opened in sixth place with $4.56 million in 2,808 theaters. This despite earning best reviews of any wide release of the week. Perhaps inspirational sports movies that are based on real life events have just lost their shine with moviegoers.

The final wide release was City of Ember, which missed the top ten with $3.13 million. On Thursday I compared this film, briefly, to The Seeker, but I really didn't think it would do worse. Granted, it was playing in far fewer theaters, which gave it a better per theater average, and it did earn better reviews, but that won't be enough to matter in the end.

Moving onto the sophomore class, there were plenty of films in that group this week. Appaloosa was the only one of the group that was able to remain in the top ten as it pulled in $3.32 million over the weekend for a total of $10.87 million, including its short limited release run. This is already more than original expectations. Religulous will likely also top original expectations after adding $2.23 million, to take its total to $6.73 million so far.

On the other hand, An American Carol is bombing badly, and was down more than 60% to just $1.40 million to take its total to $5.97 million. It will likely fade away on Friday. Flash of Genius also fell more than 60% over the weekend to just $868,000 for a total of $3.74 million. Meanwhile, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People fell nearly 70% to just $440,000 over the weekend and $2.46 million in total. Sadly, Blindness managed to do worse, down just over 75%, but it started in a better position earning $487,000 for a two-week total of $3.07 million. This is not the biggest sophomore drop-off, it's not even in the top 20, but is it still very, very bad.


Filed under: Eagle Eye, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Body of Lies, Quarantine, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Religulous, The Express, City of Ember, Flash of Genius, Blindness, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, Appaloosa, An American Carol