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Weekend Forecast for January 19-21, 2007

By Reagen Sulewski

January 19, 2007

Someone forgot their safe word.

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Pan's Labyrinth didn't win any awards at the Globes, but it was a nominee for best foreign film. Guillermo del Toro's macabre fantasy film has collected a few major nods and is probably the biggest threat to Pedro Almodóvar's Volver at the Oscars for the foreign film category. Set amidst Franco's Spain, Labyrinth follows a little girl into her deepest imagination as she deals with the calamity of war and repression around her. Already a bit of a sensation in limited release, this visually dynamic film could be set to break out. Expanding to over 600 theaters, it should be able to earn about $5 million this frame.




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The actual winner of the Globe for Best Foreign Film was Letters From Iwo Jima, although it is ineligible for that category for the Oscars. However, it is considered a favorite to pick up a regular Oscar nomination anyway. It expands to 360 theaters this weekend. Directed by Clint Eastwood, it's a companion piece to Flags of Our Fathers and tells the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese point of view. To date, its box office has been underwhelming, and is still under $1 million after four weekends of limited release. The attention it got this past Monday should help significantly, though it's going to need multiple Oscar nominations to really become a significant player at the box office. Look for a weekend of around $4 million.

Dreamgirls has already had a few weekends of wide release, but there's still room for it to expand, and expand it does, moving over the 2,000 venue count level. The winner of Best Musical/Comedy already has almost $70 million in the bank, and took first spot in Wednesday's box office totals. This expansion is minor relative to its previous berth, but combined with its Musical win, as well as the wins for Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson in the supporting acting categories, it should see a boost in the weekend totals, to about $11 million.

Finally we get to the non-Oscar contenders, starting with last week's surprise number one, Stomp the Yard. Opening with $21.8 million over three days, the film about stepping obviously resonated with college crowds, who were underserved by a market filled mostly with adult-leaning Oscar contenders and family films. This counter-programming has proven for several years now to be an effective strategy, and this is one more example of the phenomenon. It should have a brief stay at the top, as reviews have been less than kind to the film, and this has front-loaded written all over it. Its second weekend should be in the neighborhood of $10 million.

Still running strong is Night at the Museum, which slipped to second place for the first time since its release, though it has packed over $190 million into its coffers, and is inches away from passing Madagascar as Ben Stiller's second highest grossing film. This film just won't go away, even after its Christmas support has theoretically evaporated. It won't get back up to win the weekend, but a second place finish yet again isn't impossible. I give it close to $11 million this weekend.


Forecast: Weekend of January 19-21, 2007
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 The Hitcher 2,831 New 14.3
2 Dreamgirls 2,214 +307 11.5
3 Night at the Museum 3,483 -129 10.9
4 Stomp the Yard 2,051 0 10.4
5 The Pursuit of Happyness 3,066 -103 6.8
6 The Queen 1,586 +1,242 6.5
7 Babel 889 +716 5.6
8 Freedom Writers 2,286 +107 5.1
9 Pan's Labyrinth 609 +415 4.7
10 Children of Men 1,524 +16 4.2

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