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Can Scooby Doo Two Top Original?

March 26th, 2004

Four movies open wide this weekend, or maybe it would be more accurate to say one and three halves as only one film opens in more than 1,600 theatres. This makes the race for top spot not so tough to predict, but the rest of the top ten is wide open. The three smaller openings are hoping for strong word of mouth, but as last week's soft debut for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tells us, that's a risky bet.

Scooby Doo surprised analysts opening with more than $50 million, but then it dropped fast and had poor legs. That makes the market for Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed a little suspect. A year earlier another film, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider had a similar box office, and it's sequel was one of the biggest box office disappointments of 2003. Will Scooby Doo 2 suffer the same fate? It probably won't be as extreme, but a big drop is in store for the franchise. Look for $30 million, and with reviews that are even weaker than the originals, look for less legs at the box office.

Given its genre, Dawn of the Dead is almost guaranteed to lose more than half its box office this week. But given its strong reviews, it won't be much more. Look for $13 million this weekend and a sequel sometime in 2005 - 2006.

For the first time in its run, The Passion of the Christ is losing theatres; granted it's less than 100. Halving topped $300 million during the week, Passions should earn another $12 million this weekend.

The three other new releases will all have great difficulty making an impact at the box office.

Tom Hanks is a huge star who is currently riding a seven-movie $100 million streak. Unfortunately, that streak is about to come to an end. The Ladykillers would have to more than double The Coen Brothers' best effort so far. And it will have to do it opening in just 1,583 theatres, and to the worst reviews in Tom Hanks' career since Bonfire of the Vanities. It should, on the other hand, earn $11 million this weekend and have enough legs to top $50 million.

I'll admit right up front that I'm a big Kevin Smith fan, so I'm hoping Jersey Girl does well. However, his films work best when he cares less about the potential box office and more about telling a story his way. His weakest film to date, Mallrats, was an obvious attempt to cash in financially on the critical acclaim Clerks had earned. I said his weakest film to date because Jersey Girl is earning the worst reviews of his career (but second best this weekend). This may be because this film has none of the edge Kevin Smith is best known for (it is his first PG-13 movie). Look for $7.5 million this weekend and about $20 million overall.

The last film on the list, Never Die Alone, opens in less than 1,200 theatres, but with focused marketing it should have a stronger per theatre average than it would otherwise muster. Also hurting its chances are its reviews, currently sitting at only 36% positive they don't suggest the positive word of mouth this film needs to succeed. It should have a similar box office to Jersey Girl with $7 million opening and slightly better legs.

Also worth noting, three movies have sneak peaks this weekend. Hellboy plays in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, Walking Tall plays in roughly 750 theatres on Saturday while The Prince and Me has its sneak peak Saturday and Sunday.

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Filed under: The Passion of the Christ, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Hellboy, Dawn of the Dead, Walking Tall, The Ladykillers, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Prince & Me, Jersey Girl, Never Die Alone