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Weekend Preview: Will the New Releases Have any Punch?

March 24th, 2011

Predicting the winner at the box office this weekend could be tough, as there appears to be no real consensus on which film has the advantage. This is mostly due to uncertainty with one of the films, with just as many analysts predicting Sucker Punch will win with ease as are predicting that film will really struggle. On the other hand, there is a pretty strong consensus with regards to the overall box office when compared to last year and there's almost no chance 2011 will keep pace with 2010. Worse case scenario has Sucker Punch and Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Rodick Rules combined opening with less than How to Train Your Dragon opened with. This means March will end on a low note, which has happened far too often this year.

Sucker Punch might have a slight advantage over Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Rodick Rules, but it also has a lot more uncertainty attached to it with predictions ranging from the high twenty million dollar level to the mid teens. It does have a director with proven box office power and a cast of young up-and-coming actresses that are helping to generate a lot of buzz. However, it is also a geek movie, which is a genre that hasn't managed to translate buzz into box office dollars lately. Additionally, its reviews are far from a selling point. I'm going to go with a first place prediction of $23 million, but anywhere from $16 million to $27 million is likely.

On the other hand, Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Rodick Rules will likely open with a very similar debut weekend to the original. That film opened with $22 million this time last year and was a solid mid-level hit. It also earned good reviews, especially for a kids movie, so fans of first film will likely want to check out this one. The reviews for this movie are a little bit weaker, but not so much so that I'm really concerned about its box office potential. It should open with $20 million to $24 million. I'm going with second place with $22 million, but it could make just $20 million and still earn first place, or make more than $24 million and still be stuck in second.

Limitless will fall from first to third, but still add about $10 million to its running tally. This means the Bradley Cooper vehicle will only take about 8 days to match its production budget, and by the time it leaves theaters it will likely have made more than its combined production and P&A budgets. As long as it does respectable business internationally, it will earn a profit by its initial push onto the home market, if not sooner.

Rango will become the first film released in 2011 to hit the $100 million mark. On the one hand, we should be happy that 2011 finally has a film in the century club. On the other hand, by this time last year, the top film had earned nearly $300 million. It's just another sign of the weakness at the box office.

The Lincoln Lawyer should round out the top five with just over $7 million over the weekend for a total of $25 million after two. Given its reviews, it could perform better on the home market.


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Filed under: Weekend Preview, Sucker Punch, Rango, Limitless, The Lincoln Lawyer, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules