By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Early Box Office Analysis
Paramount is looking for the fifth highest opening in its history with Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Interestingly, none of the current Top Five (M:I2, Tomb Raider, M:I, Runaway Bride and What Women Want) are kid-target movies, though Tomb Raider was certainly built for horny teen boys. But the current #6 is The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie, which started strong and fell off the edge of the box office chart after a week. And Paramount’s best kids-film effort overall was the first Rugrats movie, which barely passed the $100 million mark.
I don’t expect that to be the fate of this film, in part because of Jim Carrey’s presence. His reviews have been blistering, but Snicket is looking to become his third best starring opening (I don’t count Batman Forever) after Bruce Almighty and How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Both of those films ended up grossing well over $200 million, which is probably why Snicket is a Jim Carrey movie (besides his talent, obviously). But Paramountis not over the hump yet. Carrrey’s current third best opening is for Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, the sequel which opened to $37.8 million and ended up with a gross of just $108 million domestic.
This has been the season, so far, for movies that the critics don’t much like doing big business and movies that critics love struggling to get past the $20 million mark. Whether what looks to be a near-$40 million start leads to a $120 million domestic total or a $200 million domestic total we will not know until next weekend.
However, the big bright question mark for Paramount right now is why they gave up the last three weeks of playtime with The Incredibles slotted for November 5 and Polar Express slotted for November 10. I would, of course, be the first to scream about an overcrowded marketplace. But I would also have noticed that the highest grossing family-oriented December release of all time, leaving the Rings films aside, is Stuart Little, which grossed “only” $140 million after opening on December 17, 1999. An incremental improvement over that for Snicket is okay, but not sensational. And with the price tag on this film, they need sensational.
Spanglish and The Flight of the Phoenix are both going down fairly hard. For Spanglish, it is the widest James L. Brooks opening ever by about 30 percent, but it will open to about 30 percent less than his next widest starter, As Good As It Gets. That said, AGAIG ended up doing twelve times its opening figure in 1997. That would make Spanglish a $100 million movie. So anything is possible.
As for Phoenix, Fox tried to counterprogram, moving the film into December from a 2005 date. A $5 million start is a plane crash.
Closer added about 30% more screens and will see a gross increase this weekend of about 15%. Not bad. But hardly overwhelming.
And Ocean’s Twelve looks to fall by more than 50% in its second weekend. Surprised? Anyone… anyone…