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The Post Holiday Blues

February 20th, 2004

Well, it had to happen, after a great start to February first critically and then financially, it all comes crashing down this weekend. Four movies open wide this weekend and none of them impressing critics and neither do they have much of a shot at a stellar box office. On the plus side, this weekend last year was weak, so we should see 2004 gain some ground on 2003. Or at least do better than the nearly 9% year to date decline.

It is almost inevitable that 50 First Dates will become the first pump and dump movie of the year. That is to say, the first movie to earn $30 million or more during its opening weekend but fall more than 50% during its sophomore stint. That doesn't mean it is a bad movie. But the combination and Romantic Comedy and Valentine's day plus the long weekend inflated last week's box office, so there is just too much downward pressure this week. Look for just over $19 million this weekend on its way to over $100 million final box office.

Ray Romano of Everybody Loves Raymond hopes to translate his small screen success to the big screen with Welcome to Mooseport. He already has a smash hit under his belt with Ice Age but this will be his first live-action movie. The change from small screen to big screen hasn't been a kind one to a lot of stars, and the critics are being equally unkind offering only 16% positive reviews. Still, the movie should attract a sizable portion of Ray Ramano's audience allowing it to challenge for second place with $12 million.

In a surprise upset, Eurotrip is earning the best reviews of the new releases with 53% positive. That might not seem like impressive reviews, but it's head and shoulders above it's nearest rival. Last year at this time Old School opened in more theatres with better reviews and against stronger competition. All three should push Eurotrip's potential down to $11 million, but this film is the biggest wildcard in the top five.

Discounting the holiday on Monday, Miracle has been able to hold onto last week's mid-week numbers amazingly well. So even with the increased competition it shouldn't suffer a major loss at the box office making more than $10 million in its third weekend of release. But with a higher than average production cost and a weaker than average international potential, this film will have to wait till the home market before it shows a profit.

Rounding out the top five is Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, which I'm expecting will give me carpal tunnel syndrome from typing it name over and over again. The most intriguing aspect of this movie is the behind the scene battles. Originally Hillary Duff was attached to the film when it was supposed to be produced by New Line. Then the film was picked up by Disney, which at the time was playing hardball during negotiations for a sequel to The Lizzie McGuire Movie and a network version of the TV Series. So Hillary Duff was dropped in favor of Lindsay Lohan. And those two have an alleged rivalry regarding their personal relationship with Aaron Carter. It's like a bad soap opera ... not that I watch soap operas.

Oh yeah, I suppose I should write my prediction for the film. Reviews are poor and the teen girl film market is soft. Look for $9 million this weekend and a second life on the home market.

The final film to have a wide launch this week is Against the Ropes with the once popular Meg Ryan. She's been in quite a slump since You've Got Mail and there's little chance this film will break her out of it. Really bad reviews and only 1601 theatres spells disaster to the tune of just $4 million.

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Filed under: 50 First Dates, Old School, Miracle, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Eurotrip, Welcome to Mooseport, Against the Ropes