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Can Underdog Remain on Top?

June 25th, 2004

Three new films open wide this week, or four new films if you really stretch the definition of wide. Even so, there's a good chance there won't be a change at top spot on the charts.

Buoyed by a substantial increase in its theatre count, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story should remain in top spot with $18 million. Its box office so far is already enough to cover its production budget, even after taking into account exhibitioners' share. So a nearly $20 million second weekend would make profitability almost assured.

White Chicks was only able to earn $4.2 million on Wednesday and that could either mean the movie's going to bomb or not enough people were aware it was opening two days earlier. Given its very poor reviews and less than enthusiastic view response, the former is very likely. Its Wednesday to Thursday drop-off wasn't extreme, but it wasn't great either. And that would tend to indicate a $16 million weekend and a five-day box office of $23 million, which is more than its estimate production budget.

After winning the Palme D’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and earning very good reviews, Fahrenheit 9/11 earned $83,922 on Wednesday. That represents not only single day records for the two theatres involved, but 100% capacity for all showings. And on Thursday they were at nearly 90% capacity. So I've upped my prediction from $12 million to $15 million. That's two thirds of the way to beating Bowling for Coumbine's record for highest grossing documentary of all time.

Three films will battle for the last two spots in the top five.

The Terminal seems to have a slight lead over Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, mainly due to the latter's drop in theatre count. Both films will earn around $11 million, both films' box offices so far are seen as disappointing. But at least Harry Potter has already crossed $200 million and is on its way to profitability.

The third film battling for a place in the top five will be The Notebook. The film isn't earning strong reviews with many critics complaining that the film is overly sentimental. (While the overall reviews are not strong, Rachel McAdams is being singled out for her outstanding performance.) It is also a little early in the summer to release a movie like this, so look for $10 million this weekend, but much better legs than most films.

After five weeks in the top five, Shrek 2 will finally bow out. That doesn't mean we'll stop tracking its progress. It is a record-breaking film, after all. Its march towards $400 million, and yet another record, continues this week. With only $8 million at the box office it won't get there this weekend; it will probably get there by next Friday.

It is very unlikely Two Brothers will be able to connect with an audience this weekend. That's is not to say it's a bad movie, far from it. It is a stunningly shot movie that is earning amazing reviews, it is just not the kind of film that American audiences tend to watch. Opening in just 2100 theatres won't help either. Look for the film to manage only $6 million and finish in 8th or 9th spot, depending on how well Garfield does.

Since I've mentioned the other nine films, I might as well finish the top ten. The Stepford Wives should earn just $4 million as its box office run quickly comes to an end.

Also of note, on Friday Sleepover has a sneak peak in 1000 theatres.

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Filed under: Shrek 2, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Fahrenheit 9/11, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, The Notebook, The Terminal, Garfield: The Movie, White Chicks, The Stepford Wives, Two Brothers, Sleepover