This weekend there are four wide releases, which is too many. The odds are at least one, more likely two films will miss reaching their full potential. That's under normal circumstances. The box office is clearly sub-normal at the moment. The widest release of the week is Trouble with the Curve, but its Tomatometer Score has fallen from close to 90% to barely more than 60%. At this pace, by the time the weekend starts, it will be below the overall positive level. House at the End of the Street has good buzz, but still no reviews, and that is troubling. Dredd's reviews are shockingly good, but the film has had trouble escaping the remake stink. Finally, End of Watch is also earning great reviews, but its studio has a really bad track record at the box office. By comparison, last year there were four wide releases, none of which earned more than $20 million; however, three of them did earn more than $10 million and the fourth came close, while The Lion King won the weekend with more than $20 million. I think it will be another loss for 2012 in the year-over-year comparison. It likely won't be close.
First place might come down to a coin toss. At the moment, Trouble with the Curve has a slight advantage over House at the End of the Street, but it comes down to reviews. If Trouble with the Curve sees its Tomatometer Score fall below 50% positive, it will be in trouble. It is aimed at a more mature target audience, which is less likely to race out to see the film opening weekend. Also, they are among the most likely to read and trust reviews. $20 million is probably out of reach, but it could come close. If it can grab $19 million, then first place is probably in its future. If it earns less than $15 million, then second place is more likely. I'm going with $17 million, which means it will likely open in second place on Friday, but earn first on Saturday and Sunday coming out ahead over the full weekend.
House at the End of the Street is the only other film most analysts think has a shot at top spot and there are some reasons to be optimistic. Firstly, its star, Jennifer Lawrence, is on the verge of being one of the biggest stars around. Secondly, it's buzz is strong and the ad campaign is strong. On the other hand, it is the wee hours of Thursday morning and there are still no reviews. Granted, the genre is a little more critic-proof than most, so weak reviews won't kill it, at least not right away. I'm cautiously optimistic with regards to the film's chances with critics, but I think it will have to settle for second place with $15 million.
I think Dredd will place third, but there is a lot of disagreement here. The film's reviews are excellent and it would take a total collapse for the film to miss the overall positive level. On the other hand, remakes have struggled a lot recently, plus it has to deal with direct competition. The Fanboy buzz is good, but I don't know how well that will translate into a wider audience. I'm going with third place with just over $12 million, but there are some who think it will fail to reach the top five with with $8 million.
Open Road has only had one movie, The Grey, which opened with more than $10 million. End of Watch should become the second such film. Its still early reviews are almost good enough to suggest some Awards Season buzz and the ad campaign is more aggressive than I was expecting. It might surprise and reach third place, but fourth place with just under $12 million is still a good start.
Finding Nemo will likely fall to fifth place with just over $11 million giving it $32 million during its re-release. That is probably more than its combined conversion budget and P&A budget. Plus, that advertising portion of the P&A budget doubles for its upcoming home market release. It isn't a huge hit, but it is doing enough to pay for itself.
Resident Evil: Retribution will likely fall from first to six with just $8 million. However, there's a chance the semi-wide expansion for The Master will overtake it. The Master might end its box office run with more than any the other films that will be above it over the weekend, if it can grab some Awards Season Buzz.
Date posted: 2012-09-20