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At Least September is Almost Over

September 24th, 2004

There are a lot of questions that need answering with regards to the box office this weekend. Will any new release come in first? Or will they all be dead on arrival, making this a weekend the studios would rather forget? And, are these questions mere cheap excuses to put links into the summary?

The Forgotten is destined to be remembered more for what it could have been than what it was. Films with surprise endings generally fall into one of two categories. Those that are well done and you want to watch the movie again, immediately, so you can look for clues. And those that are poorly done and make you want to throw popcorn at the screen and demand your money back. (Perhaps that's a little harsh.) And unfortunately, this film falls into the latter category. Most critics agree that the premise is good and can really hook in a viewer, and most also agree that the film can sustain the tension throughout the film. Right up until the ending. And that ending kills it. Still, the film should draw in enough viewers to come out on top, for at least one weekend. But the word of mouth with hurt this film and hurt it fast. Look for $14 million opening and a total box office of around $35 million.

A disappointing start for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow will be tempered with a shallow drop-off. Percent wise, it should drop from between the low 40s to the high 30s. Split the difference and we get a $9.5 million weekend.

Despite opening in only 607 theatres, well below what most analysts would consider a wide release, Shaun of the Dead should have a strong showing, enough to push it into the top five. I like this film's chances for many reasons. Most importantly the Zombie genre is ripe for ribbing, and any film that can balance the giggles and gore should please fans. And the reviews suggest that the creators have done an excellent job of that. Currently sitting at 100% from the cream of the crop critics and 92% overall, this is one of the best reviewed films of the year. That is not to say there's not some problems. For instance, the humor is very British, and there may be some inside jokes that audiences on this side of the pond won't get. But that shouldn't be too much of a problem. Look for a $5 million start, and some serious expansion in this films theatre count in the coming weeks.

Just behind should be the thriller, Cellular, which is seeing its theatre count increase this week. Look for a little less than $5 million at the box office for a $26 million total so far.

A pair of returning sports film, Mr. 3000 and Wimbledon, should round out the top five this weekend. Like the previous holdover, these films should hold its own earning between $4 million and $5 million during their sophomore stints with the Baseball flick having a slight edge over the Tennis tale.

The last wide releases this week looks to be a bit of a mess. First Daughter was one of two films with similar story lines, (and at one time, the same name) set for a January 2004 release. The other film, Chasing Liberty, came out first and flopped. As for what that means for this film's chances, it could go either way. It could be that a movie about a romance involving the first daughter is doomed to fail. Or it could be this film will benefit from the comparison. Since the reivews are even weaker, I think the former is more likely than the latter. That gives this film about $4 million for an opening and $12 million overall.

Finally, Napoleon Dynamite should stick around in the top ten one last time with just under $2 million. It's been an amazing run for this low budget comedy and expecting great things when this film comes out on DVD.

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Filed under: The Forgotten, Napoleon Dynamite, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Cellular, Mr. 3000, Wimbledon, Shaun of the Dead, First Daughter