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Weekend Predictions: Smooth Sailing for Gravity?

October 11th, 2013

There are two wide releases this week: Captain Phillips and Machete Kills. The former is a potential Awards Season player, while the latter is definitely not. Unfortunately, neither seems likely to challenge Gravity for top spot at the box office this weekend. Captain Phillips should come in a solid second place, while Machete Kills will try not to under-perform when compared to Runner Runner's opening from last weekend. Gravity could help 2013 top last year's box office, which was led by Taken 2 in its second weekend of release. The best new release was Argo, but it opened with less than $20 million and Captain Phillips should top that. However, last year had much better depth and might prove to be too much for 2013 to overcome.

Gravity earned more during its opening weekend than all but the most pollyannish analyst predicted, so unless it collapses this weekend, it will be a success. Fortunately, its reviews are near perfect and the Awards Season buzz should help lure people back to the theaters. Unfortunately, it does have more or less direct competition from Captain Phillips, another film aiming for Oscar glory. Worst case scenario has the film falling below $30 million. Best case scenario has the film earning close to $40 million during its sophomore stint. I'm going with $33 million and an easy first place finish.

Captain Phillips is based on a true story. It is directed by Oscar-nominated director, Paul Greengrass. And it stars double-Oscar winning actor, Tom Hanks. Everything about it screams Oscar bait, including its reviews. Tom Hanks is already a favorite to earn his sixth Oscar nomination, although he is a long-shot to win his third Oscar. As for the film's box office chances, they are solid. I think it will top Argo's debut from last year with about $21 million. It will need strong legs to reach $100 million and to do that, it will have to become an Awards Season darling. This is possible, but that's a tricky bet.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 should add close to $14 million over the weekend for a total of $77 million after three weeks of release. This will keep it on pace to reach $100 million in total, which is enough to be considered a success.

Machete Kills is the only other wide release of the week, but its box office chances are middling. The film's predecessor only managed $11.42 million during its opening weekend and it would take a minor miracle for this film to do the same. The reviews won't help the situation, although the lack of direct competition is a point in its favor. Perhaps it will crack $10 million at the box office, but just under $9 million is more likely.

Runner Runner should round out the top five by default. With some of the wost reviews for any wide release of the year, it has no chance at strong legs. It could collapse earning less than $3 million over the weekend, but I think it will avoid that fate, barely. Look for just over $3 million this weekend and a quick exit from theaters.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Gravity, Captain Phillips, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Runner Runner, Machete Kills, Tom Hanks, Paul Greengrass