Friday Box Office Analysis

By David Mumpower

November 1, 2008

You help people on that Burn Something show. Why won't you help me?

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If High School Musical does not recover to a Grumpy Old Men/Scream degree today, it's going to throw under Cloverfield's final box office despite opening higher. And just to make sure you realize the above was not the product of your vivid imagination (damn all that chocolate going to your head!) , yes, High School Musical fell 90% from last Friday. As my wife joked earlier today, Zac Efron's career might have reached its pinnacle last weekend and this weekend is what the rest of his career is going to be like.

We broke from the usual format for the Friday Numbers Analysis in order to examine the fascinating trend (or one-off?) that occurred to returning films on Halloween 2008. New films were just as much a victim of the phenomenon. Zack and Miri Make a Porno, a title whose second half couldn't be advertised on network television or in print ads, failed to capitalize on all its negative media attention. Despite tracking very well among young males, the lifeblood of the industry, the Kevin Smith title expected to open in the mid-teens managed only $2.2 million yesterday. Even with a magnificent internal multiplier of 3.6, it's still going to wind up with only $7.9 million, only half of what it had been expected to earn.


The Haunting of Molly Hartley was no more successful than Zack and Miri despite being better themed for the holiday. It earned $1.7 million for Freestyle Releasing, making Chace Crawford's first weekend as successful as Zac Efron's second weekend. I guess singing edges out smoldering in the end. The other "new" opener was my beloved Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla, a platforming title that went from 19 to 837 venues this weekend. The end result was that it jumped from $27,490 to $450,000, which sounds nice until you realize that Ritchie's ex-wife has spent more than that on bullet bra lingerie. This is also not good news for Gerard Butler as he tries but fails once again in his quest to show that 300's box office success was due to his presence. P.S., I Love You earned $53.7 million, Nim's Island earned $48.0 million and RocknRolla appears headed for a sub-$20 million finish. Butler needs a 300 prequel and he needs it fast.

The other big box office story this weekend is Clint Eastwood's latest effort, Changeling. Despite sub-par buzz, the title has a chance to win the weekend. It expanded from 15 to 1,850 venues yesterday. In the process, its box office bumped from $146,044 last Friday to $2.3 million yesterday. Determining the internal multiplier for this is little more than guess work, something I hate to do (or admit). It didn't seem as impacted by Halloween as some of the other titles did, so I hate to give it credit for a massive bump from Friday to Saturday. If we look at historical comparisons, however, platforming titles have done very well over the weekends wherein Halloween came on a Friday. I'm going to hedge my bets here and say that Changeling winds up doing $9.2 million, good enough to finish in second place. If Saw V doesn't hold up as well after the holiday, that number could be good enough to win the weekend, meaning we could be looking at another sub-$10 million winner to start November.

Projected Estimates for the Top Ten (Three-Day)
Estimated Gross
1 Saw V 11.0
2 Changeling 9.2
3 Zack and Miri Make a Porno 7.9
4 High School Musical 3 7.1
5 Haunting of Molly Hartley 5.2
6 Beverly Hills Chihuahua 4.0
7 Secret Life of Bees 3.6
8 Max Payne 3.0
9 Eagle Eye 2.8
10 Pride and Glory 2.5

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