Monday, June 2, 2008

Carrie Bradshaw 'whip'-lashed by front-loading and Indiana Jones continues to raid the box office.

Apologies for the delay... but the Sunday numbers seemed so tenuous that I thought it best to wait till the final numbers were released today.

Alas, it would seem that Sex And The City did indeed prove to be front loaded, perhaps the most front loaded movie I have ever witnessed. A $26.8 million opening day leading to a $56.8 million opening weekend portends to very, very troubled box office waters ahead (ironically, my $50 million guess, which I lambasted myself for yesterday, turned out to be pretty darn close). Now it has been stated that the film collected $3 million in midnight showings on Thursday night. If you don't count those, then the film merely has a lousy 2.4 multiplier that renders it similar to previous television turned movies (Simpsons and X-Files-Fight The Future). However, there is a reason that studios schedule those advanced screenings at 12:01am. Counting those, as we ought well should, Sex And The City ends up with a shockingly terrible 2.1 multiplier. This is the lowest multiplier that I can remember seeing for as long as I've been tracking box office. In other words, this was a Friday night event, and it may not be much more than that. But that doesn't mean it's anything less than a solid hit in the long run.

So where does this leave the likely total box office? That is of course a huge guess at this point, as we do not yet know the general word of mouth or whether there will be repeat business. But, let's take what I think are the two lowest grossing films to open to over $50 million. The Village opened to $50 million in 2004 and crashed due to word of mouth, ending up with $115 million. Back in November, 2002, 8-Mile opened to $51 million off of a $20 million opening day (2.5x). It also proved to be a flash in the pan and ended up with $116 million (opening weekend was about 43% of their respective totals). Thus, if this is the worst case scenario and there is little repeat business, then the final gross of Sex And The City would be slightly over $130 million. That's still a terrific total based on its $65 million budget and the likely huge DVD/Blu Ray sales, but this means that any sequels would have to keep the budget the same or smaller or risk losing money.

Fun fact - during the opening weekend of the young teen skewered, but R-rated Eight Mile, the weekend to weekend drops for every non-R-rated film in the top ten was absurdly small, even for garbage like I Spy. Draw your own painfully obvious conclusions.

Speaking of young people buying tickets for PG-13 movies and sneaking into R-rated ones, Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull had a terrific rebound on Saturday and Sunday, owing to being the main choice for families, the main choice for men whose wives were two auditoriums down, and the main choice for under-age girls sneaking into you-know-what. Anyway, the film rode a $12.5 million Friday into a $44.7 million second weekend. It's a little behind Iron Man's $51 million second weekend, but Indy had $50 million book-shelfing its first three day weekend (great news - it made slightly more on Sunday than on Friday).

Regardless, this slightly under-rated adventure has now pulled in $216 million in eleven days (I saw it for the second time today, this time with my father - it's still terrifically flawed but terrifically fun). It's pretty much following a very similar pattern to Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End. So, at this point, unless it really stays strong as a family option, look for it to finish out at a more than acceptable $305-$310 million. Whether it will beat Iron Man, I cannot say, but it's going to be closer than anyone guessed two months ago, and I think that says more about Iron Man than about Indy at this point.

Speaking of Tony Stark, everyone's favorite bleeding-heart arms merchant dropped a scant 33% this weekend, ending up with $276 million after week five. This thing keeps on ticking and it's now a lock for $300 million. The Incredible Hulk is going to have to really tank hard to blemish Marvel's expense sheet at this point.

Regardless of who wins the domestic box office battles, Indiana Jones 4 has almost surpassed Iron Man's five week global take ($519 million) in about eleven days ($482 million). Just remember, in 1989, domestic champ Batman still lost the global trophy to Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade ($411 million vs $474 million). There likely isn't anything this year that can steal the global victory from Henry Jones Jr.

The home invasion bruised-forearm picture, The Strangers pulled in a surprising $21 million, owing it to a strong trailer, a simple and relatible premise, and the lack of horror films in the last several weeks. Considering this one only cost $9 million and has been on the shelf for ages, I'm genuinely shocked at this strong performance. Mazel Tov, Rogue Pictures.

Prince Caspian dropped 44% to 12.7 million, reaching $113 million after weekend three. Shockingly, this one won't make it to $150 million domestic, although overseas numbers could help cushion the $200 million budget (it's done $51 million overseas thus far). And poor, bedeviled Speed Racer has crossed the $40 million domestic mark and nears a $75 million global total. Come on, foreign countries... help this visionary wonder save some face by passing $125 million globally!

Next week pulls out Kung Fu Panda and You Don't Mess With The Zohan. Kung Fu Panda will likely open closer to the $47 million of A Shark Tale and Madagascar, as opposed to the $38 million of Over The Hedge and Bee Movie (it's swell, read my review then go see it... or go see it then read my review!). Zohan will probably open at about $40 million, as befits nearly every Adam Sandler movie that isn't a serious drama. The weekend after that is of course the battle of the two biggest question marks of the summer - The Happening and The Incredible Hulk. Stay tuned, sports fans, it's about to get bloody and someone is going to be very, very angry.

Scott Mendelson

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