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Will We Hear Some Box Office Music?

October 23rd, 2008

One of the most unpredictable weekends in recent memory opens today, with the debut of High School Musical 3, but it is not the only new release of the week. There are two other wide releases, plus a re-release that could challenge for a spot in the top ten. Overall the box office compares very well to last year and unless something unexpected happens, 2008 should extend its lead over 2007.

High School Musical 3 is coming, and the hype is building with a huge number of advanced ticket sales nationwide. Opening night should be a madhouse, but will it be able to live up to the hype? That depends on your expectations, but the reivews are better than the reviews the first two films earned. As for its box office chances, there are some who think it will break the record for best October weekend, currently held by Scary Movie 3 at $48.11 million. Even if it doesn't manage that, it is nearly guaranteed to be one of the top ten October openers. Anywhere from $30 million to $50 million is likely, there's even an outside shot at $60 million. I'm going with $42 million over the opening weekend. However, I don't think that will be enough for $100 million overall, as the Fanboy Effect will be devastating here.

There won't be much competition for second place as Saw V is the only other film with a real shot at $10 million over the weekend, and it should at least double that over three days. That said, there's little chance that the movie will live up to the previous three films and $30 million is likely the upper limit this time around instead of the lower limit. Additionally, reviews could turn out to be the worst of any film in the franchise so far, dipping below the 18% positive earned by Saw IV. I believe "Torture Porn" is on its way out, but with an opening weekend of $27 million, and a production budget that is likely less than half that, Saw V will be profitable for the studio and yet another sequel will be made.

The only other wide release of the week is Pride and Glory, which is a movie about police corruption starring Edward Norton. At the beginning of the month I expressed cautious optimism over the film, but that appears to have been misplaced. Not only have the reviews weakened considerably, but so has the buzz. Most likely, the film will pull in between $7 and $8 million over the weekend, but $10 million is not impossible, nor is $6 million or less.

Max Payne is also tracking at between $7 and $8 million, which would give it a virtual tie with Pride and Glory at the box office. If it does manage to live up to expectations over the weekend, then it will have made $30 million after ten days, which is in line with expectations.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua will likely be hit hard by High School Musical 3 and a 50% drop-off is not out of the question. I doubt it will fall that fast, but it should be reduced to just under $7 million over the weekend for a total of $78 million after four.

The final new release of note isn't new. It's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Sadly, while the film saw growth during its re-release last year, it is unlikely to repeat that feat this year for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is opening in half as many theaters. Secondly, the film was recently released on Blu-ray, which will undoubtedly hurt demand at least a little. In order to reach the top ten, the movie would have to earn close to $3 million over the weekend, which is not out of the question. But earning a per theater average of $5,000 or so is more likely and that would give the film $1.4 to $1.5 million over the weekend.


Filed under: Beverly Hills Chihuahua, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Saw V, Max Payne, , Pride and Glory