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Box Office is not in Payne, but not Exactly Healthy Either

October 20th, 2008

It was a mixed weekend at the box office. The new releases were not able to match modest expectations, which caused the overall box office to drop 2% to $100 million compared to last weekend. However, this was close to 4% higher than the same weekend last year. Even better, year-to-date, 2008 has now just over $7.51 billion in ticket sales while at the same point in 2007, total receipts were just under $7.51 billion. With High School Musical 3 and Saw V opening this Friday, we could see continued growth at the box office.

Max Payne missed Thursday's predictions, but its opening weekend figure of $17.64 million was in line with original expectations. It was also about 30% more than fellow video game adaptation Hitman opened with last year. The reviews improved over the weekend, but they are still below 20% positive, which is bad regardless of the genre / target audience, and this will likely result in a sharp drop-off come Friday, especially with direct competition. That said, it should come close enough to matching its production budget (estimated at $30 million to $50 million) that it will show a profit early in its initial push into the home market.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua managed to grab second place over the weekend with $11.42 million, which was close enough to Thursday's prediction to call a victory. The film has now made $69.28 million and given its strong holds at the box office, one would have to think it at least has a shot at $100 million. At least it would if it was not for a fellow Disney release, High School Musical 3, which opens on Friday. Both films have the potential for $100 million, but it is highly unlikely that they will both get there. In fact, it is more likely that neither will, but the better HSM3 does in its opening, the less likely it will be that Beverly Hills Chihuahua will reach the century mark.

The Secret Life of Bees was the biggest positive surprise of the weekend, earning $10.53 million over the weekend to score third place. With a theater count of just 1,591, it was able to earn the best per theater average in the top 10. That said, its reviews were not particularly strong, but its target demographic should still see it last over the coming weeks and it should at least match original expectations.

W.'s opening weekend box office was on the low end of expectations as it placed fourth with $10.51 million. Its reviews remained mixed, and the political mood is not very conducive to this kind of movie, but it will make more than Swing Vote and An American Carol combined, so for a political movie, it's a solid hit.

Eagle Eye was a surprise entry in the top five with $7.03 million over the weekend and $81.02 million in total. At this point, a total box office of $100 million can't not be entirely dismissed, although I expect hefty declines in its theater count from now on. If it does reach $100 million, it will be safe to call Shia LaBeouf an A-list star. And here I thought Christy Carlson Romano would be the breakout star of Even Stevens (she is the voice of Kim Possible, so she does rock).

The final wide release of the week was Sex Drive, which struggled at the box office and landed in ninth place with just $3.61 million. To put this into perspective, it finished below the third weekend of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist despite playing in more theaters. This is partially explained by its reviews, which were only mixed while Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist has the best reviews in the top ten. However, it also has something to do with the ratings. A lot of high school students likely bought tickets for other movies and sneaked into the R-rated Sex Drive. This does bode well for the film's home market numbers, but for now it will be seen as a bomb by most people.

Moving onto the sophomore class, Body of Lies did the best, adding $6.82 million over the weekend for a total of $24.42 million after two. However, this is still deeply disappointing. Quarantine fell the fasted, down 57% to $6.08 million, but its total of $24.47 million is twice what it cost to make. The Express fell out of the top ten with $2.19 million and lifted its total to $8.21 million. These films are usually such solid players at the box office that I'm having trouble figuring out why this one flopped. On the one hand, City of Embers has the shallowest decline down just 45%. On the other hand, it has the weakest opening and managed just $1.73 million over the weekend for a 10-day total of $5.93 million.


Filed under: Eagle Eye, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Max Payne, Body of Lies, The Secret Life of Bees, Quarantine, W., The Express, Sex Drive, City of Ember