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Will October get off to a Scary Start?

October 1st, 2004

Well, September is over so the industry can breathe a collective sigh of relief. And it couldn't end a moment too soon. How bad was September? Total box office for September was $423 million, the worst month in two years. And the majority of that box office came from holdovers released in previous months like Hero, which earned nearly $30 million during the month of September. Fortunately, the first weekend in October sees the release of what should be the first $100 million movie since The Village.

It's been said before and it will be said again, but it is so important I must say it now. When it comes to animated movies star power means nothing. How many people do you think went to see Finding Nemo because Albert Brooks was in it? Conversely, look how few people went to see Sinbad despite its impressive cast? So the fact that Dreamworks is marketing Shark Tale on the strength of its cast is worrisome. And the reviews seem to confirm those fears as they are currently sitting at just 33% positive. There is good news, however, like the fact that the film is becoming only the third film ever to open in more than 4000 theatres. That will help the film come close to breaking the record for biggest October weekend, but I think it will fall short with $43 million.

Just to clarify, I don't think the cast is unimportant to the success of an animated movie because they are obviously important. However, just because someone has had success with live-action movies doesn't mean it will translate into voice work. When casting an animated film you first look for people with experience with voice work, people with unique or easily recognizable voices and just to be safe you hire John Ratzenberger.

Coming in second should be the only other wide release this weekend, Ladder 49. Like the previous film, the critics have been quick to criticize the film, in this case for the schmaltzy hero worship and stale dialogue. Granted, if there's any group that deserves praise its first response teams like Fire Fighters. However deserving this kind of adoration doesn't make for a compelling story. Then you add in the Travolta factor and you end up with a disappointing box office. Look for an opening of $13 million, and mediocre legs.

Last week's number one film, The Forgotten, looks to buck the recent trend and not collapse at the box office this week. It should merely see its box office cut almost in half landing at $11 million. It's sad that a barely sub-50% drop is considered a sign of better than average legs.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow won't drop as badly as it did last weekend, but it will still lose nearly half of its weekly take earning another $3.5 million over the weekend.

Mr. 3000 should round out the top five with just under $3 million. Its weekday numbers of stronger than that, but it's going to lose a lot of theatres on Friday.

Although it won't make the top five, Shaun of the Dead should hold up well enough to climb a spot with $2.5 million. Next week it should have a massive expansion, however, with three more wide releases coming out, it should again fail to reach the top five.

One last note, Shall We Dance? is having a sneak peak in nearly 1000 theatres on Saturday.

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Filed under: Shark Tale, Ladder 49, The Forgotten, Shall We Dance?, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Mr. 3000, Shaun of the Dead