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Weekend Forecast for November 22-26, 2006

By Reagen Sulewski

November 22, 2006

I love you because you're the only man my size in Hollywood.

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The Fountain is groundbreaking filmmaker Darren Aronofsky's latest, after bringing us the trippy Pi and the bleak anti-drug film Requiem For a Dream. An ambitious story that covers no less a topic than the quest for immortality, The Fountain stars Hugh Jackman and Rachael Weisz in three parallel stories spanning 1,000 years, from the age of conquistadors to 500 years into the future.

A difficult production that has been in the works for over four years and was to originally star Brad Pitt, it's obviously a personal project for Aronofsky, but is essentially as weird as hell and his attempt to out-Kubrick Kubrick. A visually stunning film, it's bound to be extremely polarizing, with some hailing it as the best of the year, and others ridiculing it for pretentiousness. Opening on close to 1,500 screens this weekend, this is actually the widest release any of his films have received, almost certainly due to the fantastic reputation of his last films and the landing of a couple decent leads. However, this is the kind of film that's nearly impossible to sell to mass audiences, and the 30-second TV ads fail completely in this regard. I expect this to come in with about $3 million for three days, and $4 million over five.

Expanding on Thursday is Bobby, the Emilio Estevez-directed look at the day Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in 1968. An ensemble film with one of the year's most impressive casts, Bobby attempts to portray the events of that day as a crossroads for America, and to look at how it affected every segment of society in those pivotal times, at the height of the Vietnam War. Also, it in no uncertain terms draws parallels to international events today.




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Opening last weekend on just two screens, it earned close to $70,000, which is healthy but not earth-shattering for that kind of release. It makes its way to 1,667 venues this weekend, but with reviews staying at middling-to-good, it seems unlikely to breakout or be a heavy Oscar contender. I expect a weekend total of around $9 million, and $11 million over four days.

Now we come to the holdovers, which should dominate the Thanksgiving box office. Happy Feet, the animated penguin tale, edged out the newest James Bond film, Casino Royale, by less than $1 million when final figure came in, but as the biggest family film on the biggest family film weekend, it should widen that gap. The toe-tapping family musical directed by George Miller is best positioned to be the #1 choice for big groups, and should easily win the weekend with about $31 million, adding in $45 million over the next five days.

Casino Royale was a tiny step down from Die Another Day, but basically survived the transition from Brosnan to Craig intact. This has been hailed by many as the best Bond since GoldenEye, and this world-of-mouth may be enough to convince the last few skeptics to jump on board. I expect decent legs for this over the weekend, as it should earn $28 million in three days and $38 million in five.

With the addition of these two films, everything else in the box office took a major hit, dropping 50% or more in almost all cases. The films with the best chance to recover are Santa Clause 3 and Flushed Away, as over the five days, there is room for families to see more than one film, Give them $6 and $5 million respectively over three days.

Borat is set to pass the $100 million mark, which qualifies as one of the upsets of the year. Kazakhstan's favorite son should see close to $9 million more added to his coffers over the three day weekend, with $12 million over five days.


Forecast: Weekend of November 24-26
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 Happy Feet 3,804 0 31.3
2 Casino Royale 3,443 +9 27.9
3 Deja Vu 3,108 New 25.6
4 Deck the Halls 3,205 New 10.4
5 Borat 2,552 -59 8.9
6 Bobby 1,667 +1,665 8.8
7 Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny 1,919 New 6.2
8 The Santa Clause 3 3,043 -316 5.9
9 Flushed Away 2,621 -686 4.8
10 Stranger Than Fiction 2,258 -12 4.1

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