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Effective Marketing

January 26th, 2004

There seems to be a pattern developing for 2004. The number one movie surprises, but the overall box office is lower than expected. This week was no different. The total box office was down from last weekend's 3-day total, which is not surprising as last weekend was a long weekend. But it dropped by a massive 24.7%. The performance compared to last year that is more troubling. Before the weekend 2004 was 7% behind 2003 and at first glance this weekend was almost flat compared to last year, down less than $200,000 or just 0.002%. But this weekend last year was Superbowl weekend, so the performance is really more equivalent to a 10% drop.

The fight to top spot was as close as predicted, but it was the underdog, The Butterfly Effect that won the weekend with $17.1 million, about $2 million above expectations. And while poor reviews and the genre suggest it won't have long legs, its box office is already higher than its production budget. And after factoring in P&A and the theatres' share it could make a profit domestically.

While it failed to repeat in first, Along Came Polly did manage $16.4 million, slightly above predictions. The 41% drop from its debut last weekend is also a good sign for 2004 as it avoided the massive drops that plagued 2003.

As I previously stated, overall the weekend couldn't live up to expectations and the blame for that can be put on the shoulders of Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!. $7.3 million was just half the predicted value and with mediocre reviews it won't have the legs to make up for the poor start. Fortunately for Dreamworks the film had a budget on the lower end of the bell curve so it won't lose too much money on this one. However, it's been more than a year since they've had a big hit and their next two films, Eurotrip and Envy are unlikely to end that winless streak.

Three films were expected to be in a close battle for fourth spot. And not only was a race closer than expected, their combined haul was better than expected.

Big Fish didn't win any awards on Sunday, but it did win the close race for fourth, in fact, its $7.1 million was just over $200 thousand from 3rd place. But without any wins at the Golden Globes, it will have a harder time holding onto theatres and $100 million is out of reach.

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King spent what will probably be its last weekend in the top five earning another $6.8 million. It is now just $2 million shy of overtaking Finding Nemo for number one film of 2003, and less than $3 million from passing The Two Towers for highest box office for the trilogy.

$6.4 million was not enough to keep Cheaper by the Dozen from dropping out of the top five. But it has already made a profit for the studio, so anything more it can make is just a bonus.

Mystic River expanded into almost 1200 additional theatres over the weekend looking to take advantage of the Golden Globes awards and Oscar Nominations. It appeared to pay off as it managed a tenth place finish this weekend. A good showing for Nominations and it could stay in the top ten next weekend as well.

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Filed under: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Finding Nemo, Cheaper by the Dozen, Mystic River, Big Fish, The Butterfly Effect, Eurotrip, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!, Envy, Along Came Polly