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Competition Weak on Oscar Weekend

February 25th, 2005

It's Oscar weekend, the weekend where the movie industry celebrates the best of the best, but ironically, the three movies having wide releases would hardly qualify for that description. It's so bad that two of the three films were not screened for critics. Ouch. Also ouch will be the effect the Oscar telecast will have on the box office, especially for films that are up for awards. Still, whatever they lose this weekend they'll make up for with the Oscar bounce next weekend. One last note, right now 2005 is about 14% up on 2004, that will change this weekend. In fact, the gab could be cut in half over the next three days.

Hitch looks to become the undisputed box office champ of 2005, so far. The film is already the first film of 2005 to cross $100 million, the first film to win the weekend box office race, and should repeat as champion this weekend becoming the first three-peat of the year. The post holiday weekend plus the Oscars will lead to a steeper drop-off than last weekend, but it should still hold on to most of its box office dropping roughly 40% to just under $19 million.

Coming in a close second should be Cursed, a movie whose behind the scenes story is more intriguing than the movie itself. The studio wasn't happy with early dailies, the movie was put on hiatus while the script was re-written, then they started shooting again, again there were re-writes and re-shoots. In the end half a dozen actors were written out of the movie, some of who had already filmed their scenes. (On the plus side, this should result in an incredible DVD release.) After all of this there was the slight chance that they creators fixed the problems, but then this week the press screenings were all cancelled. Never a good sign. Normally the hype would be more than enough to compensate for these problems, for the first few days at least, however, despite having Wes Craven, there's almost no hype around the movie. That's caused me to drop my expectations and predict $16 million for the weekend and $42 million overall.

Constantine should drop a spot to third place with just under $15 million. That's a 50% drop-off, which is to be expected given the post holiday weekend and the merely average reviews. On the up side, the film's final box office will be a head of initial expectations, on the down side, so will the production budget, which may have hit $100 million.

The other two new wide release may have trouble beating $10 million over the weekend. Man of the House will mostly surpass that figure landing at $11 million. On the one hand, Tommy Lee Jones is a proven box office draw, on the other hand, there are no reviews and precious little hype.

Rounding out the top five should be Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which is the only wide release that was screened for critics. But with only 24% positive reviews perhaps it shouldn't have been. Also hurting the film's chances are its low theatre count, (just under 1500) and lack of buzz. The film will be featured on Oprah on Friday, next Friday. But by then it will probably be too late. Look for under $8 million over the weekend, perhaps as low as $6 million.

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Filed under: Hitch, Constantine, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Man of the House, Cursed