Epic Movie Leads Ugly Weekend at the Box Office

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for January 26-28, 2007

By John Hamann

January 28, 2007

We don't even want to speculate what this photo is all about.

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Usually, the later weekends in January have a good side and bad side to them. The good side is that the Oscar hopefuls are out in force, leading the charge as they all vie for the big awards. The bad side is that Hollywood tends to level out the good with some atrociously bad movies. This year, award nominees aren't all that exciting, and making it worse is that openers like Epic Movie and Catch and Release are even worse than usual. What does this all add up to? The second consecutive weekend where last year's totals leave this year's totals in the dirt.

The number one film this weekend is Epic Movie, another in a long line of bad films like Date Movie, Not Another Teen Movie, and the more recent Scary Movies. This one is just like the others – way low on quality, and earning way more than it deserves. Epic Movie grossed $19.2 million this weekend from 2,801 venues, giving it a venue average of $6,855. Despite being released in January, this one already has a somewhat solid lock on worst picture of the year. At RottenTomatoes, zero positive reviews have been counted, and the critics with bad reviews are howling (and not in a good way). Why someone would drop $10 to see something like this leaves me scratching my head, but really, it's nothing new. Date Movie opened to $19 million less than a year ago, and the last Scary Movie grossed $40 million over its opening frame. The nice thing about these films is that they don't last long. Date Movie's second weekend drop came in at 52%, and I expect this one to be even bigger. Epic Movie will earn almost half its total gross from opening weekend and its 2,800+ venues will be wiped out in its third weekend and get gobbled up by Hannibal Rising. Really, it can't happen fast enough.


While bad for us, Epic Movie is good news for Fox. These spoof films cost about $20 million to make, and with a $19.2 million opening, the studio should see a cash return from the theatrical release. The good news for the studio doesn't end there. 20th Century Fox will most likely also see an equal or larger gross from the DVD release. After domestic and foreign box office, combined with home video dollars, Fox will earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 million off a film that so far has zero positive reviews. That's Hollywood, baby.

Our number two film this weekend is Smokin' Aces, the latest all style/no substance shoot'em up, in the vein of 2005's disaster Domino. This one fared much better than the Keira Knightley flick - at least over opening weekend. Smokin' Aces earned $14.3 million over its debut frame, yards better than the $4.7 million Tony Scott's Domino opened to last year. This Universal effort opened on 2,204 venues, and had an average of $6,470. Why did this one do so well? It certainly had little to do with expected film quality, as this one only had 29 positive reviews out of a possible 100 at RottenTomatoes. My guess to its success is that there have been few films over the last few months that have this kind of body count, and with the style this one has, it was sure to bring a few of those fans out as well. It also had a decent cast that includes Ben Affleck, Jeremy Piven, Ray Liotta and Ryan Reynolds. Unless this one strikes a chord with audiences and earns some word-of-mouth, this will be another entry that doesn't last long (but don't worry - it will have Epic Movie beat in spades).

Finishing a strong third is Night at the Museum, the Ben Stiller comedy that refuses to quit. Museum earned another $9.5 million from a still powerful 3,241 venues. Last weekend the Fox film earned $12 million, so the drop of 21% is can be considered outstanding. Night at the Museum still has a decent shot at $250 million, but will have to pull it up a bit in the next two weekends if it hopes to achieve that. Currently it sits with $216.7 million.

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