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Can 2004 Take the Lead?

March 5th, 2004

We haven't seen two film open with strong prospects since the beginning of February. And with last week's winner still going strong, 2004 should pass 2003 at the box office.

The only weakness in The Passion of the Christ run so far is its mid-week drop-offs. It had day to day drop-offs every day this week, unlike every other film in the top ten this week. Even taking that into account, it will still top the box office charts and take in just shy of the first weekend's predictions with $53 million.

The first of two new movies opening this weekend is the buddy cop comedy / 70s TV show remake Starsky & Hutch. This is the sixth pairing of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. The most recent collaboration was 2001's The Royal Tenebaums, but the studio is hoping for more popular appeal than that film managed. Reviews are average, which will neither hurt nor help the box office. The biggest concern is the 70s TV Series Turned Movie genre has overstayed its welcome, and that would hurt its box office. Still, $22 million at the box office should be obtainable. Not a huge hit, but not a flop either.

Hidalgo is the first role for Viggo Mortensen since The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. But it is unlikely that Hidalgo will make as much in its entire run as Return of the King made it its opening weekend. In fact, Hidalgo final box office will be closer to Viggo Mortensen's last Pre-Lord of the Rings movie, 28 Days. Reviews for Hidalgo are even more evenly split that the previous film, so they shouldn't have much of an affect on the box office. The film should earn $15 million opening weekend and $50 million overall.

It looks like 50 First Dates will have to wait one more week before it hits $100 million. Pulling in $7 million in its fourth weekend will leave it just shy of that milestone.

Rounding out the top five will be a battle between Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and the unthrilling thriller, Twisted. And while Twisted has quite a big lead, its very poor word of mouth will result in a big drop at the box office. Look for both movies to earn $4.5 million with Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen having the slight advantage.

With its 11 Oscar wins and huge jump in theatre count, some analysts are predicting Lord of the Rings: Return of the King will jump back into the top five. I think this is unlikely, but it will come close with $4 million. Considering the weakness in the top five and the somewhat unpredictable nature of the industry, it could steal a spot in the top five.

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Filed under: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Passion of the Christ, 50 First Dates, Starsky & Hutch, Hidalgo, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Twisted