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Blame it on the Tryptophan

December 9th, 2003

The post Thanksgivings weekend was even tougher on the movie industry than predicted with only one movie in the top five living up to expectations. Some analysts are blaming it on the storm in the Northeast, but the internal multiplier doesn't really support that. And while the box office did drop 40% from last week, it was well ahead of last year to the tune of almost 20%. Year-to-date 2003 is still more than $100 million behind 2002 and with only one movie left that is a sure bet to make that much, catching up is not expected.

The performance of The Last Samurai is decidedly mixed. On the one hand its $24.3 million opening weekend is the second best for the post-Thanksgiving weekend; however, that is still well below expectations. Critically, the film has the same result. Its reviews were only 68% positive, which is good but below expectations. One definite strike against The Last Samurai is the price tag, $100 million before budget overruns and P&A. Even with great legs this movie will have to really shine internationally before it shows a profit.

The only positive surprise this weekend was Honey. Jessica Alba is far from an established star, but a $12.9 million opening on an estimated budget of just $15 million could be the start. Awful reviews won't help, but as I said on Friday while the vast majority of critics are giving Honey a negative review, they are doing it with a shrug and not a shout.

The Haunted Mansion had the best week to week drop-off, but at just more than 60% that's not saying much. Adding $9.4 million brought its two-week total to less than $50 million, compared to its total budget of $125 million that is also not much. It's a good thing for Disney that they plan to stop making movies based on rides after the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel is released.

You knew Elf couldn't keep up it winning streak forever, and this week it dropped more than 60% to $8.0 million. Even after taking into account production budget, P&A and exhibitor's share of the box office, Elf has already made New Line Cinema a healthy profit. So everything it makes now is just a Christmas Bonus. On a side note, released on the same weekend as The Matrix Revolutions, Elf as now surpassed that movie at the box office.

The Cat in the Hat had the worst week-to-week drop-off in the top ten plunging more than 70% hitting just $7.1 million. Like The Haunted Mansion, this movie made too little for its budget. Unlike The Haunted Mansion, Universal doesn't own the property and will end up pay any profit it sees to the Dr. Seuss' estate.

Even though Bad Santa match predictions almost perfectly with $7.0 million, the surprise performance of Honey pushed it out of the top five. It has already topped it's production budget, and if there are enough of us cynical, jaded movie goers who are have long since become over-exposed to Christmas, then its might squeak out a profit during its domestic run.

Lastly, The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring - Extended Edition failed to make any impact at the box office, per theatre or otherwise. Regardless, this should not be seen as an omen for The Return of the King, which opens in two weeks.

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Filed under: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Elf, The Matrix Revolutions, The Last Samurai, The Cat in the Hat, The Haunted Mansion, Bad Santa, Honey