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Weekend Forecast for May 11-13, 2007

By Reagen Sulewski

May 11, 2007

That zombie didn't like it when I tried to con him!

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The second weekend of the season doesn't bring us a opener that can remotely challenge last weekend's record breaking effort, but there are still numerous stories, including the potential for an unconventional record.

Although Spider-Man 3 shattered the opening weekend record with a wind-aided $151.1 million, an almost 12% increase over the previous record. It now has the potential to set a dubious record of the highest absolute second weekend drop, which it would also take from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. That film lost $73.3 million of business in its second weekend, which is less than half of Spidey 3's total. That Spidey 3 has been poorly received relative to its predecessors only exacerbates the problem.

Both of the first two Spider-Man films were "leggy" for blockbusters, and in the case of the first movie and its three straight weekends of just 37% drops, no such qualifier is necessary. While Spider-Man 3 has its defenders, few are as passionate about it as the other films in the series. In addition, the weekday numbers are especially troubling. While it's not often that they tell a tale, in this case, they clearly do. The first three weekday takes were all lower than Spider-Man's, which opened on an identical weekend to 30% less box office. Viewers are starting to reject this film based on word-of-mouth, and the only question is how much damage it will cause.




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The outlier would seem to be the possibility of an almost unfathomable $100 million drop, which would happen if it matched X3's percentage drop of last summer following Memorial Day weekend. I think the prospects are a bit rosier than that, but not by a ton. I think instead we're looking at a drop of just shy of 60% to about $63 million. As dramatic a fall as this is, this would still be the second highest weekend total of the year, short only of 300's opening weekend in March. To put this in greater perspective, the difference between the takes of its first two weekends will be larger than the Gross Domestic Product of a couple of small South Pacific nations.

Final box office totals are difficult to project at this point, but I believe that both the marks set by the previous films are safe. Spider-Man 3 has the potential to become the textbook example of the front-loaded hit, and could be the first opening weekend champ since The Lost World not to sniff the all-time top ten.

In 2003, 28 Days Later came out of virtually nowhere to be a modest hit, earning close to $50 million. With no recognizable stars, a British setting and a particularly gory but low-budget take on the zombie genre, it seemed a pretty unlikely candidate to strike a chord, much less inspire a sequel.

What helped was that the film was, in a word, fantastic, thanks to Danny Boyle's inspired directing, which made it an incredibly intense experience. 28 Days Later also inspired the rise of "fast zombie" films, which has been one of the more interesting revolutions in horror filmmaking in this decade.


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