Friday Box Office Analysis

By Tim Briody

May 30, 2009

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Up, up and away!


Pixar's latest release, Up, lifted off with $21.4 million on Friday. This is the fourth Pixar release to have a $20 million Friday, after WALL-E, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.

The curious trend with Pixar releases, especially since they became summer releases, is the diminishing returns on weekend multipliers. Cars earned $19.7 million on Friday and $60.1 million for the weekend for a 3.05 multiplier. Ratatouille opened with $16.4 million and ended the weekend with $47 million for a 2.86 multiplier. Last year's WALL-E blasted off with $23.1 million and had a weekend of $63 million for a 2.72 multiplier. What Pixar films have become is the opposite of many animated/children's films have become. They've got such a huge built-in audience that there is a distinctive Friday night rush factor. Pixar movies are your basic fanboy film now.

But Up has thrown another monkey wrench into the scenario. Rather than going with a multiplier that is around or lower than WALL-E's, there's another force at work here that makes this weekend very interesting when it comes to Up's weekend estimate. Theaters showing films in RealD have become very prevalent over the last six months and due to theatergoers paying more for their ticket for the 3-D experience, that has led to inflated weekend multipliers. To toss out a few recent examples, last year's Bolt let it begin with 3.73, Coraline had a solid 3.76 earlier this year and the most recent big animated release, Monsters vs. Aliens, had a 3.54 weekend multiplier. The Real D experience is worth a few notches in the internal multiplier department.


So we've got an irresistible force meeting an immovable object here. We have the fanboy factor of Pixar films (by the way, Up is winning across the board rave reviews) against the increased earnings by films using the Real D technology. With nearly 40% of the theaters showing Up screening the film in 3-D, this will likely reverse the trend by recent Pixar films and has a chance at topping The Incredibles for highest opening weekend by a Pixar film, but it's going to be close. Give Up a $68.4 million weekend

Drag Me to Hell

Sam Raimi's return to the horror genre was met with a $6.4 million Friday. While you could argue that horror fans have been under-served lately, this was a strange weekend to release one. It did beat Terminator Salvation though, so it's got that going for it. Give Drag Me to Hell a weekend of $16.4 million.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Largely kneecapped by Up, Ben Stiller's Night at the Museum sequel drops 54% from last Friday to $7.1 million. I'd like to say that things will get better for it, but well, that's not too likely. A second weekend of $24.7 million is likely the best Battle of the Smithsonian could hope for.

Terminator Salvation

We now have shifted from "major disappointment" to "complete disaster" as far as Terminator Salvation goes. It dropped 65% from last Friday to $5.1 million. It's not often when a tentpole crashes and burns like this, but when it does happen, it's fascinating. Give the fourth Terminator film $15.4 in weekend number two.

Projected Estimates for the Top Ten (Three-Day)
Estimated Gross
1 Up 68.4
2 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian 24.7
3 Drag Me to Hell 16.4
4 Terminator Salvation 15.4
5 Star Trek 13.1
6 Angels and Demons 11.8
7 Dance Flick 4.5
8 X-Men Origins: Wolverine 3.8
9 Ghosts of Girlfriends Past 1.8
10 Obsessed 0.6



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