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Weekend Predictions: Will After Earth Have a Magical Start?

May 31st, 2013

Post-holiday weekends tend to feature weak releases and this time is no exception. After Earth is a film that should be a massive summer blockbuster, given its genre and its star, but the buzz is terrible. Now You See Me is the counter-programming release, but it should have a better opening than After Earth, relative to expectations and production budget. That said, Fast and Furious 6 will very likely remain on top of the box office chart. This weekend last year was the weekend Snow White and the Huntsman debuted and it earned $56 million. There's pretty much no chance any film will earn that much during this weekend. In fact, the two wide releases might not make that much combined.

Fast and Furious 6 opened faster than expected last weekend, and while the post-holiday weekend will cause it to slow down, it will likely be too fast for the new releases to catch it. With strong reviews, the film could pull in as much as $45 million from Friday through Sunday, but just over $40 million is more likely. This would still put it on pace to reach $200 million by the end of next weekend and it is more than enough to make the studio happy.

After Earth is a summer sci-fi release starring Will Smith, who used to rule the summer Blockbuster. The key phrase there is, "used to". This time last year, Men in Black 3 opened to a respectable $55 million, but it was also part of a major franchise, which is not the case here. Additionally, After Earth is not starring Will Smith as much as it is starring Jaden Smith, his son. There are a lot of people saying this film was a passion project for Will Smith in order to turn his son into an action star. If that was his goal, it might backfire. Currently the film is earning 13% positive reviews. That's a disaster, no matter how you slice it. Worse still for Jaden, a lot of the negative reviews are aimed at him. This is a challenging movie for him, as his character is usually the only one on the screen for most of the movie and most critics say he is just not up to the challenge. Expectations range from the high $20 million range to nearly $40 million. The higher end is more likely than the lower end and I'm going with $36 million over the weekend, but I don't think that will be enough to get to $100 million in total.

Now You See Me features an impressive cast, but the reviews are merely mixed. Granted, 42% positive reviews are not a selling point, but they likely won't be fatal either. Fans of heist movies or of the members of the ensemble cast should turn up. Tower Heist was able to open with $24 million in 2011, but it was also the big release of the week and not counter-programming. That figure isn't impossible, but $22 million is more likely.

Star Trek into Darkness is cruising towards $200 million and should add another $19 million over the weekend for a total of $184 million after three.

Epic and The Hangover III should be in a close battle for fifth place. Epic has better reviews and a family-friendly target demographic, which should help it out. On the other hand, The Hangover III had a faster start and won't have benefited quite as much from the holiday. I think Epic will come out on top $18 million to $17 million, but it's close enough that they could switch positions during the weekend.


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Filed under: Weekend Preview, Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast and Furious 6, Epic, After Earth, Now You See Me, The Hangover 3, Men in Black, Will Smith, Jaden Smith