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Weekend Predictions: Will the Box Office Come Back to Life?

September 13th, 2012

Last weekend was a disaster. It was a disaster the likes we haven't seen in more than a decade, much, much longer if you take into account inflation. This weekend should be a lot stronger, as we have two significant wide releases, Finding Nemo and Resident Evil: Retribution, as well as a semi-wide release, Last Ounce of Courage. Both of the wide releases should top $20 million over the weekend, while there's a chance they could both top $30 million. Last year there were four wide releases that managed a combined $50 million or so. This year, the two wide releases could top that, but it will be close if they do. However, the holdovers are so much weaker than the top two wide releases that 2012 will end up losing again.

Finding Nemo is the latest film to get a 3D re-release. The film's reviews were nearly perfect when the film was first released, and early reviews on the 3D conversion are also very positive. The Lion King had a similar release last year and topped $30 million; however, the 3-D re-releases since then have not done as well. Finding Nemo does have some advantages, including being nearly natively 3D. The computer animation should be easier to convert. Also, it is opening in many more theaters than The Lion King was. Most expect this film will open in the mid $20 million range and the low $30 million range. I'm going with $29 million, or a per theater average of $10,000.

Resident Evil: Retribution could compete for first place. The last three Resident Evil movies all opened in the mid-$20 million range and most analysts this think film will do the same. Early reviews suggest it will be as good as the previous installments, but that's not a compliment. If it earns 40% positive reviews, I will be impressed. Perhaps the film will be a surprise hit and earn just over $30 million, thus giving it a real shot at first place. However, $23 million is more likely, which would give it a very solid second place performance.

The rest of the films hardly matter. The Possession will be a distant third, likely with $5 million. This will lift its running tally to $40 million, which is acceptable for this type of movie.

Lawless will be in fourth place with just over $3 million. It will finish the weekend with just under $30 million. This is hardly noteworthy, but it is also not a complete disaster.

Last Ounce of Courage is opening in 1,407 theaters on Friday, after a sneak peak on September 11th. Its theater count is low for a wide release, but with with terrible holdovers, it should still be enough for a place in the top five. The film is aimed at a very conservative churchgoing set. It tells the story of a small conservative town that's on the front-line of the War at Christmas. ... A Christmas movie in September. This is unacceptable when these movies are released on the home market in September, and it is doubly unacceptable to release them in theaters. This is what makes me wish the War on Christmas was real. The early reviews strongly suggest the crossover appeal will be very limited. Perhaps it will be a surprise hit and grab third place with $6 million, but less than $2 million is just as likely. If the film can avoid missing the Mendoza Line, then it will reach the top five with close to $3 million and I think that's the most likely result.


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Filed under: Weekend Preview, Finding Nemo, The Possession, Resident Evil: Retribution, Lawless, Last Ounce of Courage