Friday, August 8, 2008

Weekend Box Office Bingo (08/08/08)

Oddly enough, despite the presence of two Wednesday openers, there is still a bit of mystery to how the weekend will run itself out.

The Pineapple Express - $23 million. Despite a shocking $12.1 million start on Wednesday (a record for a Wednesday opening in August), there is great danger of a front-loaded five-day weekend. As I mentioned the other day, a Wednesday opening can hurt you with movies that are heavily front loaded. The Thursday estimates are already proclaiming a 51% drop to $6 million. Thus, the first day, a Wednesday, will end up being by far the highest day of the opening lane. If the pattern holds, expect a $8 million Friday, a $8 million Saturday, and a $7 million Sunday, give or take a few bucks. Thus, we have a $23 million three-day which will combine for a $41 million five-day take.

This is quite impressive, but the front loaded Wednesday prevented what could have been a $35 million or so three-day, which would have easily taken number 01 for the weekend and allowed bragging rights on two levels. A: The second biggest Apatow-related opening weekend of all time (besting the $30 million hauls for Superbad and Knocked Up and coming in second to the $47 million opening of Talladega Nights). B: Allowing Pineapple Express to brag about taking down The Dark Knight and being the number one film of the weekend. Now there is a real risk that it will come in second, if not third (behind Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2, which is likely a lot less front loaded). $40 million+ in five days is terrific, especially when you consider the genre (it will have out grossed both Harold And Kumar films by Sunday), its budget ($25 million) and the previous filmography of director David Gorden Green, who's previous (justifiably) critically acclaimed intimate dramas about poverty and struggle in rural America have grossed, in total, $134,527 . For once, I finished watching a David Gorden Green film and didn't feel the need to make a donation to the local food bank. For what it's worth, I can say with certainty that Pineapple Express is the least depressing film he has ever made (though to be fair, I have yet to see Snow Angels, but I'll catch it on DVD as soon as it becomes available). Still, I wonder if Sony would have rather had the bragging rights of debuting at number 01 for the weekend and dethroning The Dark Knight by a large margin. Tomato/Tomata I suppose.

Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2 - $17 million. Oh, to stand in for Alexis Bedel in that picture. It was a rare thing to render Rory Gilmore second choice in any ensemble, but the then-unknown Lively Blake pulled it off three years ago. The sequel to the modest ($39 million) hit from 2005 seems to have built on its fan base, grossing literally 3x the Wed/Thurs number of the original heading into the weekend. Chalk it up heavy renting of the original, or the fortunes of Lively Blake and America Ferrera in the past three years, but this is playing like a Bourne sequel in regards to an upgrade in box office. Truth be told, the fact that the original was a pretty darn good movie didn't hurt (the climax of the America Ferrera/Bradley Whitford subplot packed a surprising emotional wallop). If you recall, when the original came out the other two stars, Alexis Bledel and Amber Tamblyn, were the ones with hit hour-long television shows. The original made $3.7 million in its first two days and $9 million over the Fri-Sun portion. Now the original only dipped 10% from Wed to Thurs and this sequel dropped 44%. So the front loading is there, but matinees for this one should be on par with Pineapple Express at the moment. I don't think it'll overtake Pineapple or Dark Knight, but it's possible. Either way, it's yet another relatively high-quality female-centered drama from those sexist, sexist bastards at Warner Bros.

Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor: $16 million. A drastic tumble is in the works for this allegedly terrible would-be franchise. Unless the flurry of Olympic ads do the trick, expect this to end up as Brendan Fraser's second highest grossing film of the summer.

The Dark Knight - $24 million. I'm seriously running out of new pictures to post. Expect the sheer amount of new product to cause a 45% tumble, but it could still hold on to the lead position, if only for another five days. Ironically, the film that takes it down will be Tropic Thunder, which is getting much of its buzz from a wacky star turn by Robert Downey Jr, whose Iron Man was pantsed by Mr. Bale and company just a month ago. Call this a token amount of revenge. I've never written the word 'pantsed' before. I hope I spelled it correctly.

I'll be back tomorrow with Friday numbers.

Scott Mendelson

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