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Number Four Is Headed For Number One, But Will It Be Enough?

February 17th, 2011

We need a win. It has been more than three months since we've seen a victory in the year-over-year comparison, and with last year's Alice in Wonderland looming ahead on the comparisons, if we don't get a win soon, we might not get one for another couple of months. There is some good news this weekend. It's President's Day long weekend, which actually happened one weekend earlier last year. This means we have a holiday weekend this year going up against the post-holiday weekend from last year. Granted, Shutter Island opened with more than $40 million and I don't think any film will repeat that feat this year. However, last year's second place film, Valentine's Day made under $17 million, and each of the top five films this year could make that much. In order words, depth could be the key to the first victory of the year.

I Am Number Four looks to be the consensus choice for top spot over the weekend. Based on a popular book, Disney is likely looking to turn this film into a franchise, so opening weekend box office numbers will be very important to watch. It is the widest release of the week, and it is also earning the best buzz, or at the very least, the loudest. On the other hand, it doesn't have a whole lot of star power and its reviews are hardly a selling point. Over four days, the film could earn as a much as Shutter Island did over three, but that's on the very high end. It could also miss $30 million over the same time period. $32 million from Friday through Monday seems the most likely. With that opening, it will be right on the bubble to be turned into a franchise or not. It depends on how much it cost to make, the film's international numbers, home market sales, etc.

Unknown is a bit of an enigma as far as box office predictions are concerned. Simply put, the level of buzz surrounding the film is far too quiet. Granted, its target audience skews older than that of I Am Number Four, so it is not going to have a Fanboy type response, but I'm still a little concerned. Its reviews are neither a selling point, nor are they really a detriment either, so we can't really use that as a guideline either. Since the film only cost $31 million to make, which is less than half the average production budget for a wide release, it won't need to make a huge amount to break even. If it can open as well as Taken did in 2009, then it will be well on its way. That film made just under $25 million during its opening weekend, but that was over three days. I would put that as the high end for this film's potential. On the other hand, it should make about $25 million over four days, which I think will make the studio happy.

At the beginning of the month I said Big Momma's: Like Father Like Son would be an improvement over its immediate predecessor, because it would be almost impossible to be worse. I was wrong. So far the film is earning zero positive reviews, which should change before the weekend is over, but that still means it is likely to undershoot number two. As for its box office chances, those are almost as bad. Since it is a new release, it will likely have a better Friday than either Just Go With It or Gnomeo and Juliet, but as the weekend wears on, its reviews will begin to take their toll. Look for third place over the three-day weekend with just over $20 million, but it might slip to fourth or even fifth place overall with $24 million.

Just Go With It's reviews have already taken their toll and even the holiday weekend won't be enough. It still has a better shot at fourth place over the three-day weekend than Gnomeo and Juliet does and should earn close to $20 million, while adding in Monday it will make about $24 million.

Gnomeo and Juliet should benefit the most from the holiday and while it will likely be in fifth place on Friday, by Sunday is should be in third place, and by Monday it could rise to second. It should earn $19 million over the three-day weekend and $25 million over four, which would lift its total past $55 million. This is already more than original expectations, so the studio should be happy with that.

Also of note, Black Swan became the 28th film released in 2010 to reach the $100 million milestone, while it will be joined by The King's Speech over the weekend.


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Filed under: Weekend Preview, Gnomeo and Juliet, Black Swan, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, I am Number Four, Just Go With It, The King’s Speech, Unknown