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Weekend Predictions: Will Grey Skies Clear Up?

January 26th, 2012

There are three important questions that need to be answered this weekend. Can the box office finish the January sweep this weekend? Will Liam Neeson's box office reliability overcome Open Road's inexperience? And shouldn't The Grey be spelled The Gray? That is how it is spelled in America, as opposed to the U.K. Last year the number one film, The Rite, opened with less than $15 million. However, there were a total of five films with more than $10 million over the weekend. This year does look weaker, but it should be close. All it will take is one film to be a surprise hit and 2012 can come out a head for the fourth weekend in a row.

The Grey is the third early year release for Liam Neeson in the past four years following Taken and Unknown. The former earned $145 million, while the latter earned $64 million. Unfortunately, a lot of analysts expect this film to earn much less than either of those movies. There are some reasons to be optimistic, including reviews that are currently 77% positive. That's Oscar-worthy compared to most films that come out at this time of year. Also, Liam Neeson's box office drawing power could help the film earn as much as $25 million over the weekend. On the other hand, some are predicting the film will earn less than half of that for reasons that include a distributor that's very new to the business. I'm going with $16 million, which is a little more bullish than most, but I think the recent box office success warrant a little more optimism.

A pair of holdovers will be battling for second place. Underworld: Awakening has had the advantage all week, but it is expected to fall close to 60% this weekend, which would leave it with just $11 million at the box office. Meanwhile, Red Tails is beating expectation and that could continue this weekend. Some are predicting it will fall less than 40% and earn second place with about $12 million. That's too optimistic for me. However, a very close third place with just under $11 million is likely.

There should an equally close battle for fourth place between Man on the Ledge and One for the Money. At the moment, Man on the Ledge is earning just 20% positive, but that's better than One for the Money, which currently has zero reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Also, neither film is being released by a major studio, although now that Lionsgate has bought Summit, the resulting studio is nearly as big as the smallest of the major studios. Both films are on track to earn $10 million, or get close to it. Pie in the sky, both films could earn $12 million, while there's an equally likely chance neither film will get to much past $8 million. I think Man on the Ledge will win the race for fourth on Friday, but by Sunday One for the Money will be the better of the two films. However, that won't be enough for the latter film to win the whole weekend and Man on the Ledge will win $10 million to $9 million.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Red Tails, Underworld: Awakening, One for the Money, Man on a Ledge, The Grey