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Will Holdovers Bewitch the Box Office?

January 6th, 2011

So, will holdovers bewitch the box office? The answer to that is almost guaranteed to be yes. There is almost no chance either the one wide release, Season of the Witch, or the major expansion, Country Strong, will top the chart. In fact, one could argue there's a better chance neither will reach the top five. This is really bad news for the start of 2011. We knew the holdovers wouldn't be as strong as they were last year, no with Avatar earning $50 million over the weekend, but if the new releases can't keep pace with last year's new releases, we could be in trouble.

It should be another relatively close race for first place between True Grit and Little Fockers, but this time I think the Coen Brothers' film has the advantage. It is certainly the better film and has been showing better legs. In fact, it has been leading the daily chart since Monday. On the other hand, it has a more mature target audience, so leading during workdays is not unusual and it won't bounce back quite as much over the weekend. I still expect it to win, but by a very narrow margin with just over $16 million, which will be enough to surpass $100 million and put the film on path to as much as $150 million in total.

Meanwhile, Little Fockers should add close to $16 million over the weekend, giving it a total of over $125 million after three weeks of release. It was an expensive movie to make, but assuming it can at least come close to this figure, then it should be able to show a profit sometime during its initial home market run.

Tron: Legacy is also on pace to earn a profit; however, it might have to wait a little longer. This weekend it should add another $11 million to $12 million, lifting its total to almost $150 million. In the end it won't be able to match its $200 million production budget domestically, but by the end of the weekend, it will have close to $300 million worldwide, which is acceptable, but not enough to make a sequel.

At this point, things get a little more confusing with a number of films that could grab the final two spots in top five. These include a few holdovers, Black Swan, The Fighter and Yogi Bear 3D, as well as the two new entries, Season of the Witch and Country Strong. The holdovers should all earn between $7 million and $8 million and probably finish in the order I just described.

As for the two new releases, Season of the Witch seems to have a slight advantage, but a lot more uncertainty. Its reviews are some of the worst of the year. I know, this is the first weekend of the year, but bear with me. I am predicting that at the end of the year, Season of the Witch will have some of the worst reviews of any wide release of the year. On the other hand, it is opening in twice as many theaters as Country Strong is, while Country Strong is not earning great reviews either. In fact, at just 19% positive, they are below acceptable for a mindless popcorn flick, never mind a drama. There is a slim chance Season of the Witch will be a surprise hit and match Daybreakers from last year. A very slim chance. It could also miss the Mendoza Line and earn $5 million or so. I'm going with just shy of $8 million, but there's a lot of uncertainty here.

Country Strong is opening with terrible reviews and in less than 1,500 theaters. If it weren't for the weak competition, it would have no shot at the top five. However, it could score fourth place with just over $8 million. Missing the top five with just under $7 million is probably more likely, while there is the possibility it could bomb completely. If both Country Strong and Season of the Witch bomb, 2011 will be off to a disastrous start. Fortunately, next week looks a lot stronger.

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Filed under: Weekend Preview, Little Fockers, The Fighter, Tron: Legacy, Season of the Witch, Yogi Bear, True Grit, Black Swan, Country Strong