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Getting a Head Start on Vacation

April 27th, 2006

It's a busy week for wide releases with four such films coming out, although none of them look like breakout hits. In fact, only one of the films is opening in significantly more than 2,000 theatres. Continuing the overriding trend of the year, the film that is earning the worst reviews of the weekend should also top the charts.

Looking to secure top spot is the first of four new releases, R.V. Out of all of the films opening this weekend, this is the one that is most predictable, both for its plot and its box office potential. First impressions made the movie look like a blatant paycheck movie for Robin Williams, and so far the early reviews confirm that impression. However, given the popularity of bad movies this year, the film should have no trouble topping the charts and should have a run very similar to The Shaggy Dog. Except it will start faster thanks to its 3,600+ theatre count but end quicker thanks to higher competition over the next few weeks. Look for $21 million over the weekend and $60 million in total. This is lower than original expectations, but I haven't been impressed by the ad campaign so far. (One last note, while this film is earning a slightly higher Tomatometer Reading than Stick It at the moment, it's average rating is significantly lower.)

Got an opinion on R.V.'s box office chances? Don't forget to enter our Cool as Ice Contest.

Next up is United 93, the first film to deal with the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The biggest question about this film is whether or not the attacks are still too recent for moviegoers to respond positively, and there' s a lot of evidence to suggest that it is. When the trailer first hit theatres, there were a lot of complaints, some people walked out, and a few theatres even pulled the trailer. On the other hand, the early reviews are stellar, so those who do want to see the film should be more than satisfied and the word-of-mouth they generate should be equally stellar. What this means is United 93 should start slowly with about $11 million, but last longer earning $45 million in total. Or too many people could think it is opening up fresh wounds and it could easily miss the top five.

Next up is Akeelah and the Bee, which is earning some of the best reviews of the week. While its reviews are great, its ad campaign hasn't been. I fear because of the cast, the studio has decided to market the film mainly to African-Americans and have given up on more widespread appeal. While I think this is a mistake, the film should still earn about $9 million this weekend and $30 to $40 million in total, depending on how much support it gets from the studio and how much crossover appeal the word-of-mouth stirs up. On the other hand, if enough people decide that Spelling Bees are not cinematic enough, then it could also fail to make the top five.

Four films will battle it out for the final two spots in the top five. Silent Hill, Scary Movie 4, Ice Age: The Meltdown, and The Sentinel should all earn between $7 million and $8 million over the weekend. Ice Age: The Meltdown has the best shot at taking fourth place while if I were a betting man I'd pick Silent Hill to come in fifth.

The final new release of week is Stick It. I'll admit, this week there are a lot of hard films to predict with United 93 and Akeelah and the Bee both having a lot of variables surrounding their chances. But even so, this one might be the biggest wild card. Normally one would check to see how the director's previous films have done, but this is Jessica Bendinger's directorial debut. Another good indicator would be the stars' past record, but neither Missy Peregrym nor Vanessa Lengies have made enough movies to help predict this film's chances. It could be useful to check out other gymnastic movies... yeah, I'm drawing a blank too. At first I was comparing the film to Bring it On as Jessica Bendinger not only wrote both of them, but they both have a similar feel. That film made more than $17 million when it opened back in 2000 and went on to earn $68 million. But three factors, weaker than expected reviews, tiny theatre count and the nearly invisible ad campaign, will keep the film from earning anywhere near that during its run. Look for a little over $6 million during its opening weekend and a little under $20 million in total. On the other hand, the strong female characters could attract teenage girls to the movie while the hot chicks in tight leotards could attract the teenage boys / creepy old man crowd and turn this film into a breakout hit.


Filed under: Ice Age: The Meltdown, Scary Movie 4, R.V., Silent Hill, The Sentinel, United 93, Stick It, Akeelah and the Bee