Although Memorial Day Weekend no longer has the official designation as the start of the summer movie season, this year it still has a claim on one of its biggest films.
Weekend Forecast for May 26-29, 2006
By Reagen Sulewski
May 26, 2006
X-Men: The Last Stand, the third and promised last installment of the X-Men series, is this year's Memorial Day Weekend movie, premiering at 3,689 venues. The Marvel comic adaptation has become a tremendous earner worldwide, collecting almost $700 million between the first two films. The battle between mutants and those who oppose them develops into all-out war with the discovery of a "cure" for mutant powers. For those who don't consider themselves diseased, it's not an attractive prospect. And with the return of Jean Grey, now as the mysteriously powerful Dark Phoenix, allegiances are tested and battle lines drawn.
Much consternation went through the geek world when Bryan Singer passed on this film in favor of this summer's Superman reboot, handing the film over to Brett Ratner, the man behind the Rush Hour films, Red Dragon, and TV's Prison Break. Concerns were that the vision of the series as an intelligent and thematically powerful comic adaptation would be cast aside for explosions and effects. And, well, they appear to have been partially right. Criticisms of the film peg it as cartoony and lacking the depth of the previous two films. That may not matter so much initially, as X3 looks as visually spectacular as ever, introducing fan-favorite characters and tackling a theme that has been long awaited and set up through the series.
The original X-Men film opened to $54 million in July of 2000, with the sequel opening to $85 million in May of 2003, after it became a known quantity. I don't expect it to grow too much from that new, larger fanbase, and perhaps even retract a little with the change in director and relatively poor reviews, at least compared to the first two films. However, few dedicated fans will be able to resist this closure of the series. Over a four-day Memorial Weekend period, it should bring in a massive $106 million, about $83 million of that coming from Friday-to-Sunday.
The big test for The Da Vinci Code, last week's winner and the biggest opening film of the year at $77 million, comes this weekend, as it now has to face the fickle court of public opinion. General consensus is that director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman played it too safe, and delivered a stale retelling of the book that suffered from the worst sin possible for a film of this type; it bored the audience. Warning signs in the box office came early, with Saturday's take falling below Friday's, an almost unheard-of performance for a non-horror film. Clearly there was a great deal of pent-up interest that exhausted itself quite quickly. Look for this film to drop to $45 million over the holiday weekend, though it will hold on to a comfortable number two spot, and cross the $150 million milestone.
Over the Hedge was a bit of a mixed bag when it came to its opening weekend; the $38 million figure is impressive as a raw figure this year, both on its own and in comparison to the competition it had last weekend. In relation to what previous DreamWorks animated films have made, however, it's a disappointment. Buried in a declining animation market, it'll need some time to gain a larger audience. With Memorial Day Weekend one of the strongest of the year for family films, as well as the weekend where many films can find their audience, I give Over the Hedge a better-than-average chance to carry on strongly, coming in with about $33 million for the four-day holiday period.
Mission: Impossible III carries on in the box office charts after another weekend of falling over 50%, crossing the $100 million mark in its third weekend of release, probably about one behind expectations. It should bring in about $6 million over the holiday period in its last real gasp, with the total coming in about $125 million domestic, a big disappointment for Paramount.
It's nowhere near the disaster that Poseidon is for Warner Bros, though. That film is not likely to cross $50 million domestic against a negative cost north of $200 million. The ensemble disaster film is more or less done before Memorial Day, and will earn about $4 million in this four-day period, cementing it as one of the biggest money losers in Hollywood history.
A contender for the hot documentary of the year opens this weekend, An Inconvenient Truth. Covering former Vice President and Presidential candidate Al Gore's campaign to bring awareness to the issue of global warming, the documentary follows him around the world as he presents his case for why it's such an important issue. Opening on four screens, it compares more to a documentary like The Corporation as opposed to Fahrenheit 9/11 or even Super Size Me. However, with environmental issues in the news and on everyone's minds, it's a film to watch through the summer.