Follow us on

Studios Hoping the Box Office isn't too Serene

September 30th, 2005

Today is the last day of a very successful September. Unfortunately, this does mean the year-to-year gains we've been seeing will come to an end. This time last year was the first weekend in October and all three wide releases combined won't top the debut of Shark Tale. But hopefully that will be a momentary setback for an otherwise healthy Fall box office.

The first new release of the weekend is Serenity, which is based on the short-lived sci-fi series, Firefly. The film is generating a huge amount of buzz, but most of that is on the Internet and that kind of buzz doesn't often translate into huge ticket sales. However, word of mouth should really help the film as the reviews are 80% positive making the film one of the best reviewed wide releases of the year. The only real concern is the small theatre count; 2188 theatres is simply not enough if you want a blockbuster and I'm surprised Universal didn't push to get the film into more sites. Best case scenario is $10 million on Friday alone and the sequels being given the go ahead by Saturday. Worse case scenario is $10 million over the entire weekend and a quick exit from theatres. The most likely scenario is somewhere in-between: $17 million, which will be enough to show a profit assuming the film does as well internationally and on the home market.

Flightplan was the surprise winner last weekend but the real challenge now is holding on to its opening weekend box office. Midweek numbers have not been great, but I'm not expecting a total collapse either. A sophomore drop-off of greater than 40% is practically guaranteed, which would leave the film with just under $15 million, but perhaps $14 million is more likely.

Next up is Into the Blue, which earned the widest release this weekend at 2,789 theatres. On the other hand, it also earned the weakest reviews at just 23% positive. Normally the quality of the film has very little to do with the box office, but the fact that the film has a very summer like feel but was moved from a midsummer release to now is a really bad sign. Like the previous two films, this one has a shot at top spot, but will likely come up short with $13 million over the weekend and $35 million overall. One last thing: Jessica Alba in a Bikini. I mention that only because it seems like every other analyst and critic is doing the same and I'm frightened about what the studio might do to me if I fail to play along.

Most likely slipping down a couple of spots will be The Corpse Bride, which should fall by a little more than a third to $12 million. Going for it is the strong reviews and a target demographic that likes repeat viewing; going against it is the Fanboy Effect that tends to affect niche market films to a greater degree. Regardless which factors win out, the film will still do well enough to show a profit during its initial home market push.

Rounding out the top five should be A History of Violence, which is expanding from 14 theatres to 1,340. The film's outstanding reviews should help it hold on to its per theatre average better than most movies, and it could reach as high as $10 million over the weekend. $8 million is a little more realistic, and even that would be the best opening weekend of David Cronenberg's career.

The last wide release of the weekend is The Greatest Game Ever Played. There's little to suggest the film will be a breakout hit; it's barely playing in more than 1,000 theatres, Golf is a dull sport to watch, and the reviews, while better than average, are not strong enough to compensate. Finishing low in the top ten with roughly $4 million is the most likely outcome.

One last note, In Her Shoes is having another round of sneak peaks this weekend. Both tonight and tomorrow it will be playing in in roughly 500 theatres.

Submitted by:

Filed under: Flightplan, The Corpse Bride, In Her Shoes, A History of Violence, Serenity, Into the Blue, The Greatest Game Ever Played