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Weekend Wrap-Up for March 16-18, 2007

By David Mumpower

March 18, 2007

I've been watching Nip/Tuck. You are having sex with a lot of women who aren't me.

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Three new entries entered the marketplace this weekend, but none of them was going to beat the reigning 800 pound gorilla of box office. One of them was surprisingly competitive (relatively speaking), though.

After a record-shattering March opening of $70.9 million in its debut, 300 was ceded a second weekend victory. The only questions to be determined were how much it won by and how strong it maintained after a scintillating debut. The latter question was assumed to be ‘not very well', and the results bore that out. The first sign was on Friday. Whereas its first day of release saw Zach Snyder's epic earn $20.2 million more than the second place entrant, Wild Hogs, its eighth day had a gap of $3.8 million between 300 and the film in second place. That was a Friday-to-Friday decline of 64%. The depreciation is a bit misleading, however, since last Friday's sales included several million in Thursday midnight showings. A recovery was expected over the entire weekend, and that occurred for the most part. The Frank Miller comic book adaptation has won the weekend with an estimated $31.2 million, winning the top spot by a hefty $12.4 million. That total also represents almost the same amount as all three new openers combined (they earned $31.5 million combined).

Consecutive weekends of victory for 300 mean a huge success for Warner Bros. Some analysts might be overly critical of the second weekend depreciation of 56%, but I am not one of them. My point of view is that the gladiator action film made as much in its second weekend of release as many experts had projected it to make opening weekend. Given that the blockbuster already had $96.3 million in the bank before adding the $31.2 million to the coffers, it's hard to nitpick about a percentage decline. Given the budget of $60 million and a ten day total of $127.5 million, 300's success is such that even the finest accountants at Warner Bros. are not going to be able to hide the profits on this one. The Spartan epic has a respectable chance to be the biggest success story of 2007, no small feat for a title released in mid-March.

Wild Hogs continues to be a shocking success story for Disney. The washed up actors sharing a cross country mid-life crisis comedy rakes in another $18.8 million, good enough for second place. This is a decline of only 32% from its second weekend, following an initial decline of 30%. The film's steady legs are not quite as surprising as its $39.7 million opening weekend, but the entirety of the situation is still hard to grasp. The running tally of $104 million means it has unexpectedly crossed the $100 million barrier. None of these actors, their immediate families, and their agents would have predicted this, no matter what any of them may be claiming now. The scary thought is that a sequel as well as several low budget knock-offs featuring other past-their-prime actors as well as marginal celebrities who will take any gig should be expected in the next few years. That's bad news for anyone not named Tom Arnold.




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We should have had an inkling that the surprise of the weekend would be Premonition. The movie might star Sandra Bullock, but it feels like it came straight out of the Ashley Judd playbook. The story of fractured time romance and mystery can't quite duplicate the University of Kentucky super-fan's success with Double Jeopardy ($23.2 million), but it's definitely in that range for Judd's divine Ya-Ya sister. A predominantly female audience flocked to theaters to the tune of $18 million, making the film a nice success story for Sony. Its per-venue average of $6,358 from 2,831 locations is quite respectable. As has been the trend throughout early 2007, this title proved bulletproof against atrocious reviews. Only nine out of 105 reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes found something they liked in the project but as is oftentimes the case with the genre, the target audience didn't care. The question from here on in is whether word-of-mouth kills the product, but even that appears dubious.


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