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Box Office Goes Wild

November 11th, 2008

After Halloween basically cut last weekend by a third, this weekend bounced back, and did it with a vengeance. Not only did the number one film beat expectations, the overall box office did as well. Total tickets sales were $142 million, a stunning 62% more than last weekend, which is impressive, even after taking into account Halloween falling on a Friday last weekend and the beginning of November this weekend. Even more importantly, this weekend was 26% higher than the same weekend last year. Year-to-date, 2008 has earned $7.96 billion, which is higher than 2007's pace, but by less than 1% as last year at this time the running tally was $7.94 billion.

As expected, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa was able to top the charts during its opening weekend. However, its opening box office of $63.11 million was higher than Thursday's prediction and was even better than original expectations. Given the film's reviews and its younger target demographic, the film has a shot at $250 million in total, while $200 million is virtually guaranteed, barring something very strange. We will know more by this time next week, but without direct competition, I do expect the film to hold on very well for at least one week.

The biggest pleasant surprise of the weekend was Role Models, which nearly doubled expectations with $19.17 million over the weekend and a comfortable second place. Add in the best reviews that any wide release has earned since Ghost Town and it should hold on better than expected as well. $60 million is within reach under normal circumstances, while $75 million is not out of the question. Since it is very likely its production budget is between $20 and $40 million, this is a huge opening and no matter where it goes from here, the studio should be very happy.

High School Musical 3 matched Thursday's prediction nearly perfectly with $9.16 million over the weekend for a total of $75.57 million after three. At this pace, $100 million appears to be within the film's reach, although its per theater average is down to $2,644, and in two weeks Bolt becomes direct competition, and it is likely that Disney will sacrifice this film's theater count for their new release.

Changeling outperformed Thursday's expectations, pulling in $7.25 million over the weekend for a total of $20.56 million. However, unless it earns a lot of Oscar buzz, it will under-perform original expectations by a significant degree.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno managed to land in the top five for a second weekend with $6.27 million for a total of $20.69 million after two. By this time next week it should have surpassed Kevin Smith's previous film, while it has an excellent shot at overtaking Dogma as his biggest hit ever.

The biggest disappointment of the weekend was Soul Men, which missed the top five with just $5.40 million. Add in weak reviews and a low per theater average, and it is hard to imagine this film will stick around too much longer. Another MGM miss.

Moving onto the sophomore class, there was just one such film that didn't remain in the top five, and that was The Haunting of Molly Hartley. During its second weekend of release, the thriller dropped less than 40% to $3.32 million, which is better than expected. However, with just $10.06 million in total, it's too little, too late.


Filed under: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Role Models, Changeling, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, The Haunting of Molly Hartley, Soul Men