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September 2007 Forecast

By Nouvelle Vague

September 7, 2007

Sadly, the doll at the table has no way of smelling what the Rock is cooking.

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September is a dead month for theatrical business. Dead as Dillinger. On average, the September weekends are the lowest performing weekends of the year with only $88,353,273 in theatrical revenue generated on average since 2000. That's less than 58% as July – the top performing month. The four worst weekends of the year for box office all occur in September with only the first weekend – which is Labor Day weekend - salvaging any respect for the month.

Below is a chart that shows weekend number, month, average weekend total box office and the weekend rank:

35* September $117,721,891.43 27
39 September $85,346,235.43 49
38 September $83,562,208.14 50
36 September $78,727,125.71 51
37 September $76,408,904.86 52

* Labor Day Weekend

No film has ever opened in September with over $40 million in box office, and only three films have opened above $30 million: Sweet Home Alabama ($35.6 million), Rush Hour ($33 million), and The Exorcism of Emily Rose ($30.1 million). Only eight films have gone on to pass the $100 million mark after opening in September, and only two since 2000 (Sweet Home Alabama - $127 mil in 2002 and Remember the Titans – $116 million in 2000). It can get so bad that a film like 2006's The Covenant can win the weekend with an opening of only $8.9 million.

The only positive aspect of September's theatrical existence is that it's a good month for studios to launch some films they are targeting for Academy awards. Last year, both The Queen and The Last King of Scotland opened in September and went on to capture Best Acting statues for Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker. Studios can get these films out in the early fall, ramp up their box office through the winter and the awards season, and then cash in on their success on home video with a DVD release right around the Oscars themselves. There are a few films in this year's September batch that may be up for an Oscar – Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah, Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited, Andrew Domink's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and Ang Lee's Lust, Caution – that will open limited in September and are poised to take their shot.

The business is bad for the entertainment industry in general. DVD sales and rentals are down as well as kids go back to school, people return from vacations, football season starts, and the TV line-up improves from summer re-runs. There's also the movie-goer burn out from a heavy summer blockbuster schedule that adversely affects consumer spending – a symptom that likely will be increased this year with the record breaking summer we've just concluded. This summer saw 17 movies break the century mark in box office with Superbad expected to make it 18 in a few weeks - which will set a new record.

So, without further ado, here are my predictions for this September's crapfest:




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The Game Plan

Last year's #1 September film was Open Season, which opened to $23.6 million on its way to $84.3 million. While The Game Plan isn't CGI, it's really the only family-oriented film this month with a shot a decent box office. Disney is so obviously looking for the same formula that made The Pacifier (opened at $30.6 million on its way to $113.1 million) and Are We There Yet? ($18.6 million opening on its way to $82.7 million) successes in early 2005. The Rock and Kyra Sedgwick bring a good amount of starpower to this formula – and the Rock opened Gridiron Gang to a decent $14.4 million last September. Families should come out to this in good numbers with pent-up demand for family entertainment and the Disney marketing machine behind it. While current awareness for this one is pretty low, I actually think I might be lowballing its potential here.


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