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Holdovers to Punish New Releases

December 4th, 2008

There are three wide releases this week, if you have a more forgiving definition of the term, "wide." Of these three films, none have a shot at first place, while two of them might not reach the top ten. Additionally, the holdovers will take a tumble as this is a post-holiday weekend. The only bright news is this weekend last year was even worse.

Four Christmases managed to win at the box office last week, and it should have zero trouble repeating on top this weekend. Bad reviews won't help the film, but it is not the kind that usually suffers from any appreciable Fanboy Effect and that should help. That said, a 50% drop-off is practically guaranteed, which would leave the film with just over $15 million over the next three days and just under $67 million after 12.

Bolt should see a similar drop in its weekend haul, but for different reasons. Its reviews and family friendly nature should help it maintain its audience. However, its family friendly nature also meant it was aided more by last week's holiday than most films at theaters. Look for $14 million over the weekend and $83 million after three. This puts it on pace to reach $100 million, but it will take two more weeks to get to the century mark.

On the one hand, Twilight opened with enough money to pay for its entire production budget, and put a serious dent in its predicted P&A budget. On the other hand, the Fanboy Effect has pummeled this film, and that will continue this weekend. A 50% drop-off would be considered impressive, while a 60% drop-off is likely. That would leave the film with just over $10 million over the weekend, but its total of $135 million after 17 days is something very few people predicted.

Quantum of Solace should become only the third Bond film to reach $150 million domestically, and should do so early in the weekend. It has an outside shot at $10 million over the weekend, but $9 million is more likely.

The first, and only, wide release of the week is The Punisher - War Zone, the sequel to the 2004 original that starred Thomas Jane. This time around Ray Stevenson takes over as the titular character, although neither of them are box office draws, so it matters little in terms of box office potential. Neither do the reviews, which is good news because they are terrible and not even the target demographic, teen boys, which tend to have low standards, are likely to consider this a worthwhile film. The film should bring in about $8 million over the weekend, which would put it in a virtual tie with Australia for fifth place. However, it could also earn twice that and finish first, or half of that and finish outside of the top ten and I would not be shocked either way.

The other two new releases will likely struggle for a spot in the top ten. Cadillac Records has the best shot at reaching the top ten, but it is far from assured that it will get there. Its reviews have improved somewhat from the beginning of the month, but remain mixed at 62% positive. However, that is not exactly a great score, certainly not enough to suspect the film will earn any Oscar buzz, and without Oscar buzz, I'm not sure how long it will last in theaters. It appears to be tracking at $2 to $3 million, which may or may not be enough to reach the top ten. Earning $3 million in just under 700 theaters would give it a per theater average of just over $4,000, which would not be enough to suggest expansion, but at least it wouldn't collapse the weekend after. $2 million, on the other hand, would mean a sub-$3,000 per theater average, and a rather short exit from theaters. Sadly, it seems the lower end is more likely.

The final new release of the week that has a shot at the top ten is Nobel Son. However, while it has a shot at tenth place or better, it is a very slim shot. First of all, it is a black comedy, which is a difficult genre to sell to moviegoers, and the reviews won't help. Finally, it is being released by Freestyle Releasing, which doesn't have a very strong track record at the box office. That's three strikes. It might still surprise and reach the top ten with $3 million or so, but ending the weekend with less than $2 million is much more likely.


Filed under: Twilight, Quantum of Solace, Four Christmases, Bolt, Cadillac Records, Punisher: War Zone, Nobel Son