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Weekend Predictions: Will the Box Office Remain in the Black?

February 2nd, 2012

There are two important dates in February: Valentine's Day and Presidents Day. This weekend deals with neither of those, so it is probably going to be a little soft at the box office. On the other hand, all three films opening this weekend, Big Miracle, Chronicle, and The Woman in Black, have overall positive reviews and are averaging around 75% positive (That might change by the end of the evening as more reviews come in.) By comparison, this weekend last year saw the release of The Roommate and Sanctum, both of which earned terrible reviews and neither of which earned a lot at the box office. Those two films combined earned just under $25 million over the weekend, while there's a slim, slim chance The Woman in Black will make that much by itself. Even on the low end, the top two new releases should match that, while this year appears to have the advantage with depth as well. I'm almost feeling optimistic. ... I may have just cursed the box office.

The Woman in Black is the worst reviewed new release of the weekend, but it is expected to top the box office chart. Normally it is rather depressing when this happens; after all, one would like to see quality films rewarded. However, in this cast, the worst reviews are still 71% positive, which is excellent for this time of year and should please fans of the genre, especially fans of old school horror that is based on a creepy mood rather than lots of gore. Unfortunately, the distributor hasn't had a lot of success and even though a lot of people think this will be their biggest hit, a $20 million opening weekend might be a little too much to hope for. I'm going to go with $19 million, but I am a little more bullish than most.

Chronicle has been surprisingly strong with critics and at the moment its Tomatometer Score is 86% positive. I don't think many people were expecting that. On the other hand, there's not a lot of name recognition with the cast, while the writer and director are also rather inexperienced and are unlikely to draw people into theaters. It was an inexpensive film, so it doesn't need to be a massive hit to reach profitability. With a little luck, it will make more than the $15 million it cost to make, but an opening weekend of $14 million is more likely.

The Grey opened better than most people expected and should hang on better than most films managed for a few reasons. Firstly, its reviews are very good and that appears to be helping its word-of-mouth. Secondly, Liam Neeson films tend to have good legs. Finally, there's no really direct competition this week. The Woman in Black has a bit of crossover appeal with people interested in a tension filled film, while Chronicle will attract a few potential ticket buyers looking for action, but it still has the more mature audience mostly to itself. A sub-40% decline it not out of the question, but just over $10 million is a safer bet.

Big Miracle is hoping to attract families and couples looking for an early Valentine's Day movie. Given its early reviews, either group should be happy with the film. On the other hand, early estimates have it opening in less than 2000 theaters, so the studio doesn't appear to be very confident in the film's chances. Maybe it will earn $10 million and challenge The Grey for third place, but fourth place and $8 million is more likely.

This leaves Underworld: Awakening for fifth place with just under $6 million. The film is already ahead of Rise of the Lycans and sometime time during the weekend it will top the original film in the franchise. It was also the most expensive film in the franchise, but another sequel is likely at this point.


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Filed under: Weekend Preview, Underworld: Awakening, The Woman in Black, The Grey, Big Miracle, Chronicle