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Harry Potter Likely to Repeat on Top

June 11th, 2004

While three films open wide this weekend, none seem likely to finish first. In fact, I wouldn't be too surprised if at least one of them misses the top 5. However, if any one new movie doubles my predictions I wouldn't be too surprised. Nor would I be all that shocked if any one movie failed to reach half of what I predicted. It's just that kind of week.

Mid-week numbers for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban have not been great, increasing the likelihood of a steep decline for its sophomore stint. But with no real competition at the box office, I think that decline will be not as severe landing the film at $45 million. That will put the film in third place for the year with $200 million less than a week away.

Back when it was released in 2000, Pitch Black was a modest hit with a relatively small budget. However, The Chronicles of Riddick is anything but modest with a budget of $120 million, more than 5 times the budget of the original. To have a legitimate shot at matching its production budget at the box office, this film will need to earn more during its opening weekend than the original did during its entire run. Now this isn't unprecedented, but with very poor reviews, it's very unlikely. When I predicted $100 million total box office for my June Preview I was expecting reviews closer to that of Pitch Black. So expectations are lower at just $26 million for an opening and $75 million overall. Probably not enough to get the planned sequels into production.

Another week, another record falls to Shrek 2, again. This time it's highest grossing animated film of all time. Currently the film is just $12 million behind Finding Nemo's record of just shy of $340 million. And it should push its box office past that on Saturday. And if it matches my prediction of $25 million it will be just behind Jurassic Park for 8th on the all time chart.

There are a few interesting points about Garfield. It's getting the worst reviews of the week, but it’s the least likely film to be affected by those reviews. It is also going up against two monster hits that are not only both in more than 3800 theatres, but are almost direct competition for its target audience. There are a couple of factors in Garfield's favor; mainly it's opening in more theatres than expected - almost 400 more theatres in fact. And secondly, with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban being darker than the first two movies of that series, and this one being more kid-oriented than originally expected, their target audiences are not exactly the same. Look for a debut of $18 million, and more reasonable legs than most films due to its younger demographic. All in all, I think the film would have been much more successful if they had CGIed all the animals and not just Garfield.

The Day After Tomorrow will suffer through another 50%+ drop at the box office landing at just $13 million. That will be enough to cross $150 million domestically, but not enough to keep it ahead of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for the year.

Granted, no film is generating much critical praise this weekend, but of the three new releases The Stepford Wives is the film that will be the most affected by its really bad reviews. The modern retelling of the camp classic was marred by poor reactions by test audiences and apparently the re-shoots didn't help. Look for $12 million this weekend and a short theatrical run.

One final note on the top ten, Saved! is expanding into almost 600 theatres this weekend, and should have a reasonable shot at the final place in the top ten and depending on how Mean Girls does, it could finish as high as 9th. The film earned solid reviews and has done very well in limited release thus far.

Lastly, we have two movies with sneak peaks this week. On Friday The Terminal has a small sneak peak in just 150 theatres while on Saturday The Notebook has a massive sneak peak in 1000 theatres.

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Filed under: Shrek 2, Finding Nemo, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Day After Tomorrow, Mean Girls, The Notebook, The Terminal, Garfield: The Movie, The Stepford Wives, The Chronicles of Riddick, Saved!