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Nothing Lost in Translation

April 25th, 2005

This week's box office leader's opening was brighter than expected and that helped lift the overall box office up 12.25% from last weekend. However, even with such a massive jump, 2005 is still lagging behind 2004 at 5.72% for the weekend and 6% year-to-date. And that's not taking the ticket price increases into account. The number of actual admissions is nearly 10% lower this year.

The Interpreter easily took top spot on the charts this weekend with $22.8 million (Sean Penn's biggest opening ever). Judging the film's long term potential is a little tricky: the reviews were good, but not great; the audience tracked a little older than average, so that should help the film's legs; and the internal multiplier was 3.08, which is amazing for this day and age. In the end the film should top earlier expectations but will need a strong international run to recoup its $80 million up-front costs.

Many films are confounding conventional wisdom by holding onto their opening weekend numbers better than expected. The latest such film is The Amityville Horror, which fell a mild 41.7% this weekend to $13.7 million. The film has already pulled in $43.3 million and is well on its way to profitability as the initial estimated production budget was off somewhat. The real figure is closer to $18 or $19 million, with a P&A budget probably between $30 and $35 million.

Sahara also beat expectation, albeit by a smaller margin. With $9.0 million this weekend the film has now grossed $48.9 million during its run, which would have been an impressive result if the film hadn't cost $130 million to make. The film has almost no chance at making a profit, but if it can make $200 million worldwide, which is becoming more and more likely, than at least nobody will lose their job over it.

The rest of the films on the list did not fare so well this weekend. A Lot Like Love's mediocre reviews helped keep the film's box office to just $7.6 million over the weekend. And with a per theater average of just over $3,000, it won't be able to hang onto theaters long enough to benefit from the upcoming summer season. On the plus side, it was relatively cheap to make at just $30 million, which it should be able to recoup on the home market.

Despite the stellar reviews Kung Fu Hustle couldn't escape its niche market, earning just $6.7 million over the weekend. To make matters worse, the Fanboy Effect will likely mean massive drop-offs from here on in. The only good news for the film is it has already made a profit with its international numbers so this disappointing result won't hurt the studio too much.

The less said about our last wide release the better. King's Ransom earned zero positive reviews and just $2.1 million at the box office, barely making the top ten. (It just beat The Pacifier by roughly $30,000.) That's a result so bad it could kill careers.

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Filed under: The Interpreter, Sahara, The Amityville Horror, A Lot Like Love, Kung Fu Hustle, King's Ransom