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Heavenly Box Office

September 16th, 2005

It's another busy weekend at the box office with three films opening wide (although one of those film is getting a sub-2,000 theatre opening). Assuming the box office can maintain most of the momentum created since Labor Day weekend, we should see another strong year-to-year growth and that's much needed good news.

This time last year the three wide releases earned a total of just over $31 million. This year the number one film could top that. Granted, Just Like Heaven is a bit of a long shot to top that, but it should continue Reese Witherspoon's dominance over September. Reviews, which started out amazing, have slipped to merely mixed, but that's still above average for a romantic comedy. (Almost all movies in that genre tend to have very specific plot points, which makes avoiding cliches almost impossible. Hence weaker reviews.) It's earning better reviews than Sweet Home Alabama, it's opening in more theatres, and has a shot at beating its record for best September opening. Not many people think that it will, or even come close, but I think it will break $30 million with a decent shot at the record.

A combination of the genre and weak reviews will hit The Exorcism of Emily Rose hard this weekend making a 50% drop-off almost inevitable. That leaves the film in second place with $15 million, which is still more than I predicted it would make last weekend and its total of $50 million is more than enough to pay for its production budget and more than halfway to showing a profit overall.

Next up is the second wide release of the weekend, Lord of War, which is also earning mixed reviews. Nicolas Cage's career was revitalized by last year's National Treasure, but this film is very unlikely to continue that success. In fact, it could earn less in its total run than that film earned during its opening weekend. I think it will do slightly better than that with $13 million over the weekend and $40 million during its run.

The 40 Year-Old Virgin expanded its theatre count, again; this is the fourth time its theatre count has expanded and it's the first time during its run that the film is playing at a saturation level (3000 theatres or more). This weekend the film should add another $5 million to its running tally of $90 million, and even with 40% drop-off from now on it will still reach the $100 million milestone.

The post-post-holiday weekend will help The Transporter 2 recover from last weekend when it fell more than 55%. However, it is losing a large chunk of its theatre count and that will keep its week-to-week drop-off near the 50% level leaving the film with just shy of $4 million for the weekend and $36 million during its run.

The last wide release of the week is Cry Wolf, a film born out of a screenwriting contest and made with a budget of just $1 million. The film was not screened for critics, which is a bad sign, but even so the film should pay for its production budget over the weekend with $3 million. And depending of how many international markets the film can open wide in, it should show a profit during its initial push into the home market, if not much sooner.

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Filed under: The 40 Year-old Virgin, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Just Like Heaven, The Transporter 2, Lord of War, Cry Wolf