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Weekend Forecast for February 27-March 1, 2009

By Reagen Sulewski

February 27, 2009

We're embarrassed on their behalf.

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Despite no new films opening on more than 1,500 screens this weekend, the early year's run of fantastic box office will still continue, thanks to a specialty release and the post-Oscar weekend.

The concert film has been making a bit of comeback in recent years, especially if it happens to be a concert film of an artist owned by Disney, although stand-up comedy films haven't done too badly either. In this case, it's the Disney property that makes it to the screen in The Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience, opening in 1,271 theatres this weekend.

A trio of shaggy-haired "rockers" who got their start opening for various pop acts before hitching their wagon to Miley Cyrus' train, they now get their own run at the big time, also in 3-D for some reason.

So much of the trick with these films designed to appeal to the tween set depends on capturing that perfect moment in the zeitgeist, grabbing them before they move on to the next big thing. Figuring out where that point is is as much a black art as it is a science, with millions hanging in the balance.

The Miley Cyrus movie opened to $31 million on just 683 screens, though it limped home to a $65 million total. And as strong as High School Musical 3 was, opening to $42 million last year, Disney probably left millions on the table by not going the theatrical route with the second film in the series. This feels similarly like they're catching their audience a little after their peak, and I think we're headed for a strong opening weekend of around $35 million that will leave people wondering if there could have been more out there.

Also opening in a smaller number of screens, but for a very different reason is Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li. Adapted from the classic video game and seemingly out just in time for the latest version of it, it's kind of got the look of an afterthought, a film that someone flipped a coin on whether it would be released in theatres or not.




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Starring Kristen Kreuk as the title character (and evoking pretty much zero plausible toughness in it), along with Chris Klein, Neil McDonough, Michael Clarke Duncan and Moon Bloodgood, it's a candidate for late night airings on Cinemax. We've seen this recently with the DOA movie, and this shouldn't do much better, with about $2 million in its opening weekend.

Tyler Perry reached strange new heights last weekend with Madea Goes to Jail, the umpteenth film in his Madea series. It opened to $41 million, taking a significant leap over the mid-20s that his films previously had, something I'm really only comfortable blaming on the increased overall box office of 2009. Perry's films have almost universally been one-weekend wonders so far, and with the higher opening weekend, this one may be set for his steepest second-weekend drop yet. Look for about $16 million this weekend.

Let the backlash begin! After Slumdog Millionaire's near-sweep at the Oscars including Best Picture, it's set for the traditional post-awards expansion, along with the inevitable "it wasn't *that* good" reaction from people that wait until the Oscars tell them to see a film. It saw an immediate bump the day after the Oscars, moving from fifth to second overall and has stayed there, passing the $100 million mark. Now in over 2,900 theatres this weekend, it should hold some of that ground, coming in for third place with about $11 million. It's truly an outstanding run for a film that nearly got lost in a studio shuffle.

Also expanding with it from the Oscars are Milk and The Reader, the films with the Best Actor and Best Actress winners, respectively. In box office terms, these awards don't mean much, though these two films can count on at least a one-weekend boost (especially from Hugh Jackman). Both were outside the top ten this past weekend and might sneak back up into it, but it's an outside shot at best.

Coraline was the leggy champion of last weekend, dropping just 22% in its third weekend to crack the $50 million mark, and should give us two 3-D films in the top five this weekend between it and the Jonas Bros. Look at about $7 million for it this weekend.

Meanwhile, Taken finally suffered its first big drop after an almost unnatural run for the Liam Neeson actioner in its first three weeks. It's just shy of $100 million and has a pretty good shot at getting past the current 2009 champ Paul Blart (though both will be obliterated soon by Watchmen). It should still see about $7 million, bouncing back from the Oscar weekend.

Elsewhere, we have films seemingly in a race to see who can get out of theaters fastest, with Friday the 13th doing its best, shedding 80% of its opening weekend business already. Two chick flicks, He's Just Not That Into You and Confessions of a Shopaholic, just aren't up to that task. Try again, ladies! Any of these films will be doing well to be over $4 million this weekend.


Forecast: Weekend of February 27-March 1, 2009
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience 1,271 New 34.3
2 Madea Goes to Jail 2,052 +20 16.4
3 Slumdog Millionaire 2,943 +699 11.5
4 Coraline 2,064 -92 7.7
5 Taken 3,089 -13 7.0
6 Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,698 -137 4.7
7 He's Just Not That Into You 2,858 -192 3.9
8 Confessions of a Shopaholic 2,534 +27 3.5
9 Friday the 13th 2,760 +345 3.1
10 Fired Up 1,811 +1 2.7

     


 
 

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