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Enigmatic Weekend

February 10th, 2006

Four films open wide this weekend and all four pose serious questions to box office analysts. Can the winning streak by horror films continue? Will The Pink Panther or Harrison Ford make comebacks? Is 2-D Animation really dead? How much of an effect will the Olympics have? Will my nagging cough ever go away? By Monday we will know the answers to most of these questions, but my predictions are yes, no, no, yes, not a whole lot and I really hope so.

The buzz has Final Destination 3 opening with the biggest debut of the franchise and could finish within striking distance of its production budget of $25 million. I think that's too optimistic and a more realistic look has the film finishing within $1 million of $20 million, either above or below. So far, its reviews are better than the previous releases and it gains the added benefit of having Final Destination 2 playing on network TV last night. It all adds up for a first place finish for the film.

The long-delayed Pink Panther finally hits theatres tomorrow and it isn't the critical disaster most were predicting. Granted, I don't think anyone will be too happy with 26% positive, but personally I was expecting the film to have troubles breaking double-digits. It should also have the best opening for a film in the franchise and with just $16 million earn more in these next three days than the last three films earned in total. But this is more a reflection on how long these movies have been made and how far the franchise as fallen then a show of strength regarding this film.

It's been nearly three years since Harrison Ford's last movie, and nearly six since he's starred in a major hit. In fact, last two movies opened with just $11.1 million and $12.8 million respectively, and it looks like Firewall will do little better. Part of the problem are the reviews, which at just 26% positive are well below what is needed to be a selling point. Another problem is the plot, which involved a lot of technical points including identity theft, which is not the most cinematic of topics. Add in a crowded weekend and the film will likely be squeezed into third place with $13 million.

Terrible reviews plus the horror genre usually equals a very steep drop-off. And that certainly looks like the case with When a Stranger Calls. 50% is practically guaranteed while 60% is out of the question; the most likely scenario has the film dipping below $10 million, but that's still a good result given the film's production budget.

Lastly there's Curious George, which is not only the best reviewed wide release of the weekend, it is also opening in the fewest theatres. Usually the smaller theatre count wins, and add in the weakness in 2-D Animation and this film will be lucky if it makes $10 million over the next three days. $8 million and a fifth place finish seems more likely.


Filed under: The Pink Panther, Curious George, Final Destination 3, Firewall, When a Stranger Calls