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Second Helping of Chocolate

July 22nd, 2005

It looks like there will be a hard fought contest at the box office this weekend, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has a good shot at remaining number one. That's not to say there's no competition. In fact, there are two films opening at saturation levels, two more opening semi-wide and a limited release expanding enough that it should reach the top ten.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has done a better job holding onto its box office numbers throughout the week than many other films released this year, and that should indicate a soft sophomore decline. Still, a drop-off of between 40% and 50% is expected; splitting the difference gives you $31 million, but I'm predicting it will do slightly better at $32 million for the weekend and $117 million after 10 days.

The film with the best shot at overtaking Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is also the film earning the weakest reviews. The Island is being called a clone of many other, much better science fiction movies. However, the film is not boring and there are enough explosions to deafen even the hardiest of moviegoers. None of that would matter if the ad campaign had been effective, and I don't think it has. Too much information is given away in the trailers, and too much time is spent reminding viewers what Michael Bay has directed in the past. All this adds up to a second place, $30 million opening, which is still better than my original expectations.

Two comedies with a nasty tone should battle it out for third place. The Wedding Crashers should have the slight advantage, earning just over $20 million over the weekend or nearly $75 million in 10 days.

That leaves The Bad News Bears fourth place with just under $20 million. One the plus side, it is getting a much wider release than I expected with a theater count of nearly 3,200. But it is also earning much weaker reviews at just under 50% positive. A nearly $20 million start and reasonable legs will help this remake reach the $65 million my originally predicted, which should make the studio happy.

There will be another close battle for fifth place between a holdover, The Fantastic Four, and a newcomer, Hustle & Flow, both of which should earn around $12 million. The latter film should have the edge despite opening in just over 1,000 theatres. Paradoxically, the film has the smallest opening of the four wide releases and it also is earning the best reviews. An amazing start could allow the film to expand next weekend, giving the film incredible legs, or the film will have just a niche market appeal and it will collapse at the box office.

The final wide release of the weekend is The Devil's Rejects, the sequel to shock horror film, House of 1,000 Corpses. This film is getting a much wider release, although not as wide as the studio was expecting, and is also getting a much more public ad campaign. Also helping the film's cause is its reviews, which are much better than the original's. However, the very nature of the film will mean it won't have anything more than a niche market appeal, leaving it with $9 million over the weekend and $20 million overall.

Lastly, we have March of the Penguins. This incredible documentary is expanding from 132 to 695 theaters, an almost unheard of theater count for a documentary. The film has shown amazing strength in its per theater average in the face of expansion in the past, and at most the film could be headed for a $5 million weekend. However, $3.5 million and a tenth place finish is more likely.

And finally, Must Love Dogs has a sneak peak this Saturday in 800 theaters, so check your local listings.

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Filed under: Wedding Crashers, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Four, La marche de l'empereur, Must Love Dogs, The Island, The Bad News Bears, Hustle & Flow, The Devil's Rejects