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Serenity's Start is Nothing to get Excited About

October 3rd, 2005

The mini-winning streak the box office was on came to a crashing end this weekend as the total box office was only $88 million, down 11.4% from last weekend and a stunning 21.7% from last year. Of course, this time last year was the first weekend in October, so the year-to-year drop-off is to be expected. Year-to-date, 2005 is behind 2004 by 6.6% at $6.479 billion to $6.934 billion. But at least the Fall is still ahead by 7.7% at $453 million, and at this point you have to take whatever good news you can find.

Flightplan just beat expectations, falling a tiny bit shy of 40% and remaining in first place with $14.8 million over the weekend. The film has now had $45.9 million in ticket sales, nearly matching its production budget. If it can perform as well internationally, then it should be able to show a profit before it reaches the home market.

Serenity seemed to have a lot going for it: a rabidly loyal fanbase from the TV series, incredible reviews, and a popular feel that should have made it a big hit. However, the studio may have dropped the ball when it came to marketing the film; they relied on viral marketing and while that was able to get the base excited, but obviously wasn't t able to connect with the average moviegoer, as the film could do no better than $10.1 million. If you were to look for something positive, the per theatre average wasn't bad and the word-of-mouth should be excellent, as it earned a Cinema Score rating of A. Even so, the Fanboy Effect will likely kill this film next weekend and it will have to wait until late in its the home market run to show any kind of profit. On the other hand, the DVD is ranked number two on

Speaking of the Fanboy Effect, The Corpse Bride fell nearly 50% to $10.0 million. This despite having a younger demographic, which usually means strong legs. Good new is it has already topped its production budget and should make a profit sometime during its international run.

A History of Violence also managed to reach the lower range of its expectations, earning $8.1 million on just 1,340 theatres for the best per theatre average in the top ten. The film might be able to expand a bit more in the coming weeks and the reviews suggest long legs, perhaps even enough to top The Fly as David Cronenberg's best film.

Jessica Alba in a bikini wasn't enough to push Into the Blue into the black as it managed just $7.1 million in 2,789 theatres. With reviews that were less than adequate, it will probably not last in theatres long and earn less than $20 million overall. The film will likely not show a profit any time soon.

The last wide release of the weekend was The Greatest Game Ever Played, which nearly met expectations with $3.7 million in just over 1,000 theatres. Even if the film has better legs than the reviews would indicate, it will still be considered a disappointment.

One last note, The 40-Year Old Virgin was able to snag the final spot in the top ten with $3.1 million as it hit $100 million during its run. It was the 13th film to do so this year and that is more than enough to show a profit domestically, something only one in ten films do.

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Filed under: The 40 Year-old Virgin, Flightplan, The Corpse Bride, A History of Violence, Serenity, Into the Blue, The Greatest Game Ever Played