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Decoding Da Vinci

May 18th, 2006

One of the most hotly anticipated movies of the year opens this weekend, as does the latest digitally animated movie. Neither film looks likely to break any opening weekend box office records on its own, but we could have the biggest one-two opening punch ever, and with their respective target audiences, both movies should have strong legs. Whatever happens, one record will be broken this weekend, although it's a mark that no-one will be proud of achieving.

To say The Da Vinci Code has been generating some buzz recently would be an understatement of Biblical proportions. Not even the return of the most famous super hero ever is getting people talking as much as they are about this film. What they are saying, on the other hand, is not altogether positive. Certain Catholic groups are organizing protests, boycotts and in other countries hunger strikes. However, others see the film as the best chance to get people talking about Christianity in a long time. Regardless what they are saying, the studio has to be happy that there so much buzz, but they won't be happy about what another group of people are saying about the film. Namely, the Critics. Reviews have been brutal so far, attacking everything from the length of the film to the lack of excitement it generates. (Many point out that the movie is too faithful to the book and this hurts it considerably.) Most summer blockbusters are relatively immune to the barbs of critics, but with a more mature target audience, The Da Vinci Code might have problems. Fans of the book will still flock to the theatres and so will many drawn in by the hype, but it won't have the legs many expected. Look for $55 million over the weekend and $200 million overall, after the studio gives it a little push.

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The second monster hit of the weekend is Over the Hedge. Early reviews were incredible, but they have since come down to Earth and are currently sitting at 65% positive. While this isn't up to the level an instant classic like Finding Nemo earned, it is considerably better than Madagascar's reviews. Add is a similar release date, similar theatre count, weaker competition and the film should open a little faster, earning $50 million, and last a little longer, topping $200 million.

Mission: Impossible 3 will take third place, mostly by default. Considering its drop-off last week, it should earn just over $13 million this weekend. However, it is losing 600 theatres this weekend and that will keep it to under $12 million.

Meanwhile, Poseidon's last chance of salvaging its domestic run comes this weekend. Should the film show strong legs and earn more than $15 million, it could still make reasonable money. On the other hand, if it collapses by more than 60% to under $9 million, it will take a massive hit to its theatre count next weekend before nearly disappearing the week after that. Odds are it will come closer to the latter and will struggle to top $10 million over the weekend.

R.V. should continue its inexplicably leggy run with $6 million over the weekend. That will lift the film's running tally to over $50 million making profitability well within reach.

The third wide release of the week is See No Evil, the latest movie produced by WWE Films. Like the others, this one stars a Wrestler. Unlike the others, Kane is not well known outside of wrestling circles. Add in the total lack of reviews, an ad campaign that takes generic to an all-new level, and a theatre count of roughly 1,250 and this film will miss the top ten with $5 million. On the positive side, it was very inexpensive to make and it should eventually earn a profit.

One last note. Hoot did break the record for greatest theatre count drop-off, losing 2,200 theatres this weekend. That tops the previous record of 2142 held by Gigli.


Filed under: The Da Vinci Code, Over the Hedge, Mission: Impossible III, R.V., Poseidon, See No Evil, Hoot