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Box Office Update 7/17-7/19: Harry Potter Casts His Spell on the Box

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The final blockbuster of the summer season got off to a roaring start, taking in $58 million when it opened last Wednesday. I wonder how much higher it would have been had the IMAX theaters been able to open as was originally planned. In any case, it rolled to a decisive victory over the third Ice Age film, of course, it was also the only choice for the weekend on the national scale. It had no competition from any other new releases.

The sixth film in the boy wizard franchise rolled to a take north of $77 million on its way to a five day take of $158 million. Now that is nothing to sneeze at. The movie has received generally positive reviews, and while I did like it, I do not think it was near the best the series has to offer. It slumped due to some weak acting and a screenplay that did not really "nail" it. Still the series has a lot to offer and is definitely worth experiencing on the big screen.

The rest of the box office was pretty steady with most movies holding strong carryover audiences from last week. That is with one major exception. Last week's winner, Bruno, slipped from first to fourth and lost nearly 73% of its revenue. That is just staggering and it makes me wonder if I may be right about Sacha Baron Cohen's comedy having an expiration date. By comparison, Borat took in $26 million its first weekend and $28 million its next and had a pretty regular percentage drop across its run, not being quite as precipitous as this. Still, Cohen should be commended for his brave pursuit of extreme comedy blended with social commentary.

Among the returning films I think the biggest story is The Hangover. It fell a mere 17% this weekend as it continues to distance itself from the double century mark. Would you believe, in unadjusted dollars, it is the third highest grossing R-rated movie of all time? I know, I didn't believe it either. It is the biggest R-rated comedy, having bypassed both Wedding Crashers and Beverly Hills Cop, and overall trails only The Matrix Reloaded and The Passion of the Christ. I do not believe it will reach either of those two, but it is still a phenomenal run for a film I did not believe had a chance of getting anywhere near this level of popularity. On top of it all, it is a funny movie.

Next week will see a few new movies enter the race. Disney's G-Force will poach 3D screens away from Ice Age and attempt to entertain the youngsters. The Gerard Butler/Katherine Heigl romantic comedy The Ugly Truth arrives, and it is R-rated, which surprised me as the trailers had PG-13 written all over them. Finally, The Orphan hits theaters and looks downright creepy. It does not feel terribly original, but I look forward to see what it has to offer.

One movie dropped off the top ten this week: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (11).

This Week Last Week Title Wknd Gross Overall Week in release
1 N Bruno $30,619,130 $30,619,130 1
2 2 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs $27,607,497 $119,680,193 2
3 1 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen $24,213,875 $339,221,800 3
4 3 Public Enemies $13,794,240 $66,221,110 2
5 4 The Proposal $10,603,884 $113,861,076 4
6 5 The Hangover $9,933,238 $222,444,906 6
7 N I Love You, Beth Cooper $4,919,433 $4,919,433 1
8 6 Up $4,715,746 $273,834,761 7
9 7 My Sister's Keeper $4,294,382 $35,915,782 3
10 8 The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 $1,543,516 $61,437,955 5

Box Office Predictions Recap
As I review my picks for the week, I have an overriding feeling of "meh-ness". I know that isn't a real word, but it about sums up my feelings about this weekend's guesses versus the actuals. In most cases I was not all that far off, but I still do not feel all that great about the few wins I had. I turned out to have seriously overestimated the three day take for Harry Potter, I got a little over-anxious on the heels of that $58 million opening day. Perhaps if they were able to open IMAX I would have been closer. My other big miss was with Bruno. I should have known, the movie is not nearly the phenomenon Borat was and it looks like it is going to make a quick exit.

Here is how the field matched up:

Actual Prediction Title Wknd Gross Prediction
1 1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince $77,835,727 $101 million
2 2 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs $17,561,406 $17 million

3

3 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen $13,691,487 $16 million
4 4 Bruno $8,318,385 $14 million
7 5 Public Enemies $7,748,235

$8 million

5 6 The Proposal $8,289,707 $6 million
6 7 The Hangover $8,177,272 $5.5 million
8 8 Up $3,172,014 $3 million
10 9 I Love You, Beth Cooper $2,766,863 $2.5 million
9 10 My Sister's Keeper $2,828,367 $2 million

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