Before the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, Cars, Ice Age: The Meltdown, Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion and Mission: Impossible III were the only releases this year to finish in first place in consecutive weeks. After two weeks of not just winning but utterly dominating the competition, Dead Man's Chest has a chance this weekend to do something truly unusual in modern box office: demonstrate staying power at number one.
Friday Numbers Analysis
By David Mumpower
July 22, 2006
There hadn't been a production that finished at the top of the box office charts for three straight weeks since Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire last November/December. With four new challengers to the throne, including M. Night Shyamalan's latest outing, Lady in the Water, Johnny Depp's crew was in for a battle. Are they up to the challenge? As my old friend Jerry Barnes used to say, ubetcha.
The animated thematic offspring of 1985's Steven Spielberg classic, The Goonies, gets off to a solid start. Monster House's opening total of $7.7 million represents a 22% bump from The Polar Express's first Friday receipts of $6.3 million. Of course, we are unlikely to see the same gaudy internal multiplier of 3.7 that Robert Zemeckis' last animated project had. The key is that kids were not on vacation for that title's Friday. Ergo, it spiked 63% on Saturday to $10.3 million. Monster House will be happy with a much more modest bump on its second day followed by strong holdover on Sunday thanks to the post-church matinees across the country. An internal multiplier of 3.26 would bring an opening weekend tally of $25.1 million as well as the highest placement out of the openers. This feels like a win for Amblin Entertainment and Sony Pictures.
Lady in the Water
The buzz around this production has been so negative you would swear it was Carrot Top's comeback project. Recently deposed Disney studio boss Nina Jacobsen cordially invited Shyamalan to burn the script and forget it ever existed. Feelings wounded, the Hitchcock wannabe took his ball and went to Warner Bros. Two days ago, Jacobsen was fired from her job and even allowing for that, her career is in better shape than Shyamalan's at the moment. Lady in the Water, a film allegedly tracking in the mid to upper 20s, managed only $6.9 million in its first frame. Given the fact that this is only good for second place among the openers and taking into account a budget of $75 million for the project, this is troublesome on oh so many levels. The critically reviled film is looking at an opening weekend of $18.8 million and a freakish amount of schadenfreude, even by Hollywood standards.
Here is a nice little success story for the fledgling The Weinstein Company. Clerks II earned $4.1 million in its first day. While this might not sound like a lot, please factor in that this tally represents almost a million more than the original earned during its domestic run. Given a modest budget of $5 million (albeit one that is exponentially larger than the $27,600 spent on the original), Clerks II has a great chance to surpass its negative cost while still in theaters. Sure, it will be heavily front-loaded this weekend and should see a three-day total of $10.2 million. Even so, diehard fans will take advantage of director Kevin Smith's clever idea of adding a podcast for the movie. This should boost repeat business for the worthy sequel even more than it would have naturally had due to Smith's loyal fan-base (of which I am a proudly card-carrying member).
My Super Ex-Girlfriend
There's no good news to be found here. This is simply a case of history repeating itself. Seven years ago almost to the day, a $68 million budgeted title named Mystery Men was forced to flee its scheduled release date due to the presence of a film with a Clerks-ian budget of $35,000. That production, The Blair Witch Project, scorched the box office and became arguably the most profitable non-pornographic movie ever relative to budget. Mystery Men got its ass kicked, winding up with a pathetic final tally of $29.7 million. And even *that* number probably looks good to the producers of My Super Ex-Girlfriend. The Luke Wilson/Uma Thurman comedy managed an atrocious $2.8 million first day and is probably looking at $8.1 million for the weekend. There is no point in sugar-coating it. This is a disastrous project for Fox.
This is frame two for last weekend's shameful pair of "comedies". The loser of the two last weekend, You, Me and Dupree, is faced with further ignominy this week. Alleged former rock act Steely Dan has taken time out from their busy Floridian retirement schedule of Mall-walking and bingo to unleash an assault on this bottom-feeding project. When people who can't decipher the Butterfly Ballot know that your project is a disgrace, that should be a sign. But I digress. Dupree found another $3.9 million worth of suckers in its second outing. This total is (sadly) a respectable 48% decline. A 2.9 internal multiplier for the weekend would give Dupree an $11.3 million performance.
Little Man, the round one winner, falls 57% Friday to Friday with a $3.3 million tally. A $9.3 million weekend appears likely. Since it had fallen behind You, Me and Dupree during the week, this outcome is not surprising. There should be a roughly $5 million gap between the projects by the end of the weekend.
Finally, the Pirates sequel is a lock to maintain its spot as top dog this weekend. Its $10.2 million Friday outpaces the second place finisher, Monster House, by almost a third. Dead Man's Chest had a 3.36 multiplier in its second weekend. It's reasonable to use that as a jumping-off point for the third weekend's internal behavior. This would slot the project around $34.3 million for the entire frame. Saturday will see the biggest film of 2006 achieve two milestones. It should cross $300 million as well as surpassing the original's total of $305.4 million by the end of business today. It's good to be Johnny Depp.