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After a Little Romance, Guys Want Action

February 15th, 2007

Now that romance is out of the way, we have a big-budget action flick looking to take advantage of Presidents' Day long weekend to score the biggest opening of the year so far. But Ghost Rider isn't the only new release this weekend; along with the two romantic comedies that opened on Wednesday, there are three films opening wide, or at least wide-ish, this Friday.

When a movie is pushed back from a prime summer release to a mid-February it is almost never a good sign. If it is to accommodate re-shoots then the film is all but dead. On the other hand, working to improve the visual effects is probably the least offensive reason to delay a movie. This is the case with Ghost Rider. Even so, there's not a lot of enthusiasm directed towards the movie; there are a lot of opinions, but not many that are positive. There are reasons for this, including the aforementioned release delay. It's a B-list comic book and while there are plenty of these that work on paper, they rarely work when translated into movie form. So far, there's only one review on Rotten Tomatoes and it is way too early to tell how it will go, but for what it's worth the one review is positive. It is still unlikely that the film will earn a lot of love from the critics, but I don't think it will be the train wreck others have assumed it would be.

As for the box office, if the film had kept its original summer release (or been released this summer), it probably would have earned $150 - $200 million (Fantastic Four type numbers). Now it will have to settle for something a lot lower. Pie in the sky has it opening with more than $40 million and crossing $100 million with ease. Worst cast scenario has it making just $20 million and falling out of theaters before it hits $50 million. Tracking suggests the latter is much more likely, giving a prediction of $35 million over the next four days and $80 - $90 million in total.

(On a side note, Ghost Rider 2 is already being developed. If the film cracks $10 million on Friday, the sequel could be given the go ahead by Saturday.)

Night at the Museum has reigned as the top-drawing kids' flick since the weekend before Christmas. That ends tonight as Bridge to Terabithia comes out on Friday. There's been a lot of concern from fans of the book regarding the adaptation. The ads make it seem like the movie has more in common with Narnia than the story they remember. So either they've taken the book and radically altered its focus for the movie, or they've created a series of misleading ads. Fortunately for fans of the book, the latter is what has happened. On the other hand, those who haven't read the book but like the ads might be disappointed with the discrepancy, but that seems unlikely given the film's amazing reviews. In fact, it is the best-reviewed wide release of the year so far. As for the film's box office chances, it is tracking in the high teens to low twenties, and I think the higher end is more likely. Give it second place and $25 million for the weekend.

That brings up to the first, and only, holdover expected to finish in the top five: Norbit. The film got off to a faster than expected start last weekend, but with reviews that were just 10% positive, it won't last long. If it wasn't a holiday, I figure a 50% drop-off would be in order. With the holiday boosting both the Sunday and adding the Monday it should manage $23 million from Friday to Monday lifting its running tally to $65 million after 11 days.

After getting off to a softer than expected start, Music and Lyrics will be looking to bounce back over the weekend. On the one hand, the $4.2 million it pulled in on Valentine's Day could be a sign of weakness. On the other hand, it could just be a sign I overestimated the Wednesday pull. Perhaps happy couples were waiting for Friday to go to a romantic movie. But if that were the case, why did Norbit's daily take nearly triple? Given the reviews, it could see a shallow drop-off today, perhaps earning close to $3 million. If so, its weekend total will be within yesterday's predictions at about $18 million. But slightly lowered expectations of $16 million are more likely.

As expected, Daddy's Little Girls earned first place yesterday but its opening day total of $4.6 million was below expectations. Today it will likely fall to second place as Tyler Perry's films carry with them a rather strong Fanboy Effect. Granted, the reviews are the best out of the three movies he's made, but at 30% positive, they are not a selling point. Look for a nearly 50% drop-off tonight and $13 million over the weekend.

The final wide release of the week is Breach, but at under 1,500 theaters, calling it a wide release is not 100% accurate. On the other hand, it is earning some of the best reviews of the year. In fact, only fellow weekend release, Bridge to Terabithia, has earned a higher Tomatometer rating. On the other hand, films about the inner workings of an intelligence community are not likely to set the box office on fire. The Good Shepherd opened with just $10 million last year and it had a bigger cast, wider release, and a much better release date. Tracking has this movie coming in between $6 and $8 million over the 4-day weekend, which would give it between 6th and 8th place. I'm predicting 7th place with $7 million.


Filed under: Ghost Rider, Norbit, Bridge to Terabithia, Music and Lyrics, Breach, Daddy's Little Girls