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Welcome to another early edition of the Reject Report and this week we try and figure out the box office for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. All I gotta say is that trying to figure out the box office keeps on getting tougher and tougher. Let’s face it, there is so much hot air out there these days about how movies will do. You hear these reports about record online sales or sold-out midnight screenings everywhere, but that really doesn’t tell you very much because these reports could just be a lot of studio hype. Or they could be the truth!

I must say, though, that the reason I have trepidation going into this weekend with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince rolling out. The fact is that this has been — let’s admit it, folks — a generally lousy summer for a lot of movie fans at the theaters, and a lot of the fans are venting their anger and aren’t giving some of these latest movies their business. Take Bruno for example. It opened up with a big Friday in first place, but the word of mouth for this movie has been just terrible, and the box office promptly tanked after that. The word of mouth for Bruno hasn’t been of the “man, this movie sucks” variety, either. Rather, it’s of the “do you really want to see this stuff on the big screen” variety. People seem to be saying: “we don’t care that the movie’s funny, all we care about is it’s so gross and in-your-face!” And let’s face it — do you really want to take your girlfriend to a movie like this, or even your boyfriend!? Good question.

Anyway, Bruno lost again on Monday to Ice Age 3, and I really don’t see it making much of a challenge beyond this week. It’s too bad for Sacha Baron Cohen who brings his “A” game all the time, but that’s life.

The point I want to make is that I get the impression that people are beginning to feel burned this summer. You had Bruno that was funny but grossed people out. You had Transformers 2 which some people liked but, let’s be honest, a lot of people hated it. You had Terminator Salvation which a lot of people DEFINITELY hated. You had Year One that just about everyone hated, and you had X-Men Origins: Wolverine that was kind of, uh, meh to a lot of folks, too. Sure, there was Star Trek and Up and The Hangover, and Drag Me to Hell, but there is definitely a significant number of movie fans who think the movies have really gone to hell this summer.

So I think there might be some people out there who are going to be on the fence about committing any money to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, because they’ve gotten burned at the theaters before. And it’s unfair and it sucks, but that’s what I think some of the reaction is going to be. People may not be completely fed up yet with the summer movies, but I do think they are starting to get fed up and they might be less willing to spend money on movie tickets before really thinking it over first. Now, I know there are going to be people out there who will try and argue about what a great summer it has been. Fine, go ahead and say that, but you will get a lot of argument from people on that point. That’s just the sentiment I detect out there.

Having said all that — there is no question the fans have been waiting a long time for the return of Harry Potter, which rolls out in roughly 4,250 theaters. This flick was meant to have rolled out last fall, but Warner Bros. pushed it back to now to fill the summer hole. All the Harry Potter fans were furious and were complaining about it back then, but in the end the delay has just ramped up the anticipation and I do think we could see some records in jeopardy. I think that $60.6 million Wednesday record set by Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen could already be in trouble, especially if that report in the LA Times is true. You know what they are reporting in the LA Times? That this latest Harry Potter flick has completely sold out 4,500 midnight screenings across North America.

Well, that settles it for me. I am going to predict $62 million for Wednesday which should be a new Wednesday record, and I am predicting $30 million, $35 million, $35 million and $30 million for the remaining four days. That adds up to a five day total of $192 million, which will be lower than the Transformers 2 total. But I also believe the word of mouth will be better and the performance in the coming weeks greater for Harry Potter, and I think this movie will emerge as the summer box office champ when all is said and done. I think this will be a case where quality will win out.

Heck, I sure hope so, anyway. I may not be the biggest fantasy movie buff in the world, but I at least respect what the folks behind the Harry Potter franchise have done with the series. They at least give a top-notch effort with their movies and they deserve to be rewarded for it — unlike some other of these movie efforts I could name.

So the box office for the Friday to Sunday weekend looks to be as follows:

  1. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince $100 Million
  2. Ice Age 3 $16 million
  3. Bruno $14 million
  4. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen $13.5 million
  5. Public Enemies $8.5 million
  6. The Proposal $7 million
  7. The Hangover $6.5 million
  8. Up $3.5 million
  9. My Sister’s Keeper $2.6 million
  10. I Love You Beth Cooper $2.5 million

See you at the end of the weekend as we count the loot from what is sure to be five days of Harry-mania here at the Reject Report!


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