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Weekend Predictions: Avengers Look to Complete the Hat Trick

May 17th, 2012

For the first time all month, there is more than one new release coming out. However, despite this, it looks like The Avengers will still reign on top of the box office chart. Only Battleship has a real shot at beating it, while The Dictator and What to Expect When You're Expecting combined probably won't make as much as The Avengers will over the weekend. This is a little worrisome, as last year saw the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which opened with $90 million. There's almost no chance any film will make that much this weekend. In fact, the top two films might not make that much combined. So will 2012 lose on the year-over-year comparison? Probably not, as this year has a little more depth. It could be uncomfortably close though.

After setting records for the best opening weekend and the best second weekend of release, The Avengers will finally relinquish that record streak to Avatar, as there's almost no chance it will make $68.5 million over the weekend. On the other hand, there's almost no chance it will make less than $45 million, meaning it should top Spider-man and earn a solid second place on the biggest third weekend chart. The film should become only the 13th film to reach $400 million, and should have no trouble getting there by the end of business today, making it the fastest film to do so. It should add another $55 million over the weekend giving it close to $460 million after three. At this pace, it will get to $500 million by the end of the month, which is yet another record.

There are two schools of thought on Battleship when using its international numbers to judge its domestic box office potential. On the one hand, earning about $250 million internationally, which is about where it should end up, suggests at least a $150 million run here, given the usual 40 / 60 domestic / international split. On the other hand, while there are a lot of international markets producing their own homegrown hits, there's one thing that no international market can produce, a $100 million film. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of international films that earn $100 million without relying on the domestic box office (Johnny English). There are even international films that can earn $100 million in their home market (Les Intouchables). But there is not a market that can crank out films that cost $100 million to make. Because of this, moviegoers from outside the United States rely on Hollywood films for their fill of big action / big explosion blockbusters, and even these films will make most money internationally than the recent historical norm. This was certainly the case with On Stranger Tides, for instance. There are some that think this film will battle for top spot with $50 million, but there are also some that think a John Carter-like opening is more likely. The reviews don't strongly suggest one extreme is more likely than the other. Granted, 41% positive is not a great score, but it is also not fatal for this type of film. The hype, on the other hand, could be more difficult to overcome, while it will have to deal with much stronger competition domestically than it did internationally. Because of this, I think the lower end is more likely. Look for an opening of $37 million, while it could reach $100 million, if it gets a boost from next week's holiday.

There is a divide over which counter-programing film will place third, with some arguing it will be The Dictator, while others say it will be What to Expect When You're Expecting. The Dictator is earning better reviews and have more buzz going it. On the other hand, it is the weakest of the three Sacha Baron Cohen / Larry Charles collaborations, and the previous one opened softer than expected and had much weaker legs. It is possible that fans burned by that movie won't show up to this one, or at the very least, will wait for the word of mouth. Look for just under $10 million between Wednesday and Thursday and just over $19 million over the weekend.

After the success of Valentine's Day, relationship ensemble comedies seemed like a really good investment. Then New Year's Eve struggled, and there are some who think What to Expect When You're Expecting will perform even worse. The reviews are not as bad as the reviews for those two films, but at just 26% positive, they are certainly not a selling point. The buzz is also not where the studio would like. On the high end, it could make as much as Bridesmaids did, but on the low end, it could struggle just to reach fourth place. I'm predicting $18 million over the weekend, but I'm not that sure of that figure.

Dark Shadows should fall from second to fifth, unless the counter-programing films really fail to find an audience. Its opening was weaker than expected, as were its reviews, while there's a lot of new competition that will eat away at its box office. Fifth place and $14 million is a pretty save bet, but if it performs just a little bit better and either The Dictator or What to Expect When You're Expecting flop, it could grab fourth place.


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Filed under: Weekend Preview, Battleship, The Avengers, John Carter, Dark Shadows, The Dictator, What to Expect When You're Expecting