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Temperature Rises in Theatres

June 28th, 2004

There was a new movie on the top of the charts this weekend, but it wasn't the film most analysts were predicting. Also good news: every film in the Top Ten beat expectations, albeit by the narrowest of margins in some cases. This led to a serious increase of 9% compared to last weekend and a massive increase of 22% from last year.

In just one weekend, Fahrenheit 9/11 easily broke the record for highest grossing documentary of all time with $23.9 million. The real question now is how big can this film get? Normally documentaries have very long legs, but normally documentaries don't open with more than $20 million, so I think we can toss out past experiences. The combination of controversy, very strong reviews and a built in audience could see this film past $100 million. The drop-off from Friday to Saturday may be a sign of weak legs, but I think we'll have to wait till next weekend to really judge its chances. Financially this film is already a success, the studios share of the box office should cover the $6 million production budget and the $10 million P&A budget, assuming it got the usual 80%/20% opening weekend split. (Even a 662/3%/331/3% split would do that.) But I think that ultimately the film will be a success if it encourages political discussion and helps boast voter turnout for the upcoming election. Couple of interesting points, the film is the first film to win the weekend box office race while playing in less than 1,000 theatres since Four Weddings and a Funeral did it in April of 1994. And secondly, Fahrenheit 9/11 is already on the Top 50 Films to Never play in 1000 Theatres and might get as far as 20th place before its likely expansion next week.

White Chicks's $19.7 million weekend put its 5-day total of $27 million in line with the original prediction. Very poor reviews and extreme competition for the teen males will make strong legs virtually impossible.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story earned $18.8 million during its sophomore stint, which is very close to opening weekend predictions. Barring a collapse at the box office, $100 million is in the future for this film. And that would make it the first Ben Stiller movie to do so since Meet the Parents.

Beating expectations was The Notebook with an impressive $13.5 million. But the future is not that rosy; mediocre reviews and a sharp Friday to Saturday drop-off will likely hurt this film's legs.

The Terminal took fourth place with $13.1 million. Even with the very small drop-off, it is unlikely the film will hit $100 million.

It couldn't hang in the top five for another weekend, but Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban did pull in $11.2 million. With its target audience enjoying summer holidays, weekday totals will become more important to its final box office. Even so, it will probably be too little too late for this film to meet its high expectations.

Shrek 2 continued its impressive run, earning $10.2 million, the seventh film to earn over $10 million this weekend. The film is now just a few million from hitting $400 million, which it should do by Thursday. And should have a real shot at taking 3rd place on the All-Time Chart.

It appears American audiences prefer a CGI cat to two real tigers as Garfield's third weekend of release was able to hold off Two Brothers' debut $7.5 million to $6.1 million. Stunning reviews apparently mean little if the subject matter just isn't compelling enough.

As expected, The Stepford Wives took home another $5.1 million to round out the top ten. However, for a $100 million movie, a total of less than $50 million after its third weekend of release is unacceptable.

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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