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Weekend Predictions: Will Box Office Soar, or are the New Releases Turkeys?

October 31st, 2013

November begins with three wide releases of varying quality. Ender's Game is the only one earning overall positive reviews and it is the only one with a real shot at becoming anything more than a midlevel hit. To call Free Birds a second-tier animated family film is being very generous. Its reviews might dip into the single-digit level. Finally, there's Last Vegas, which is flying under the radar for most moviegoers. It is unlikely any of them will become a breakout hit. It is nearly certain that none will match last year's number one film, Wreck-It Ralph. November is going to start off on a losing note.

Ender's Game is based on the Orson Scott Card novel, which was published in 1985. There has been talk about turning it into a movie for a long time, so fans should be happy it is finally coming out. However, they likely won't be overly happy with the end product. The reviews are currently over the overall positive level, but not by a large margin. They've also fallen more than 10 points from the peak earlier in the week, which suggests by the end of the weekend it might dip below 60% positive. The film has a production budget of $110 million, so it will need to open with more than $30 million to have a real shot at becoming a financial success. That seems unlikely at this point. Perhaps it will surprise and earn just over $30 million, but $27 million is more likely.

Free Birds is a digitally animated family film about time-traveling turkeys who go back to the first Thanksgiving to stop turkey from being the main course during the holiday. It's a high concept film, but one that had potential to be fun. If the critics are to be believed, it is anything but fun. There are more than a few critics complimenting the studio, Reel FX, for their technical prowess on their first feature-length digitally animated film, but nearly all of the critics are attack the script. Hyperactive and dull seem to be tossed around very frequently. On the high end, the film could make between $20 million and $25 million, but $18 million is more likely.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa opened in first place last weekend with $32 million, but it will likely suffer a greater than 50% drop-off this weekend. Its reviews are good, but not great, while the Fanboy effect could come into play here. It might hold one well enough to earn $16 million, but it might collapse to under $13 million. I'm going with $15 million.

Last Vegas has an impressive cast, but the reviews are a rounding error away from falling below 40% positive. That score is low enough that it will hurt box office numbers. Worse still, the film is aimed at an older target demographic, and this demographic is more likely to read and be swayed by critics. Finally, the buzz just isn't there. It could grab third place with $15 million or so, but fourth place with $14 million is a more likely scenario.

Gravity should round out the top five with $12 million. It became the ninth film released in 2013 to reach $200 million domestically, which is better than most people thought it would finish with, and it could reach $250 million before it is finished.

One last note, 12 Years a Slave is expanding to more than 400 theaters, so it should be able to earn a spot in the top ten with roughly $4 million.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Ender's Game, Gravity, Free Birds, Last Vegas, 12 Years a Slave, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Orson Scott Card