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Weekend Preview: Hammer Time!

May 5th, 2011

Box office watchers are looking at the second potential monster hit opening in as many weeks and many are hoping Thor can maintain the pace set last weekend by Fast Five. It's unlikely Thor will open with as much as Fast Five did, but perhaps the two films as a one-two punch can help 2011 keep pace with last year.

Most people rank Thor as one of the most anticipated films of the year and the studio hopes this translates into massive box office numbers. There are plenty of signs there to suggest this will happen, including an opening theater count of nearly 4000, as well as dominant early sales. (Close to 50% of all advance tickets sales are for Thor.) The reviews are also very strong, even if they are off their earlier figure of 95% positive and the word-of-mouth should help counter-balance the Fanboy Effect. Most analysts are expecting the film to open in the mid-to-high $60 million range, while a few are predicting it will crack $70 million. It does have strong competition from Fast Five, which will still be selling millions of tickets this weekend, but $70 million should not be too difficult a goal. In fact, after its opening weekend internationally, anything less than $60 million will be a disappointment and $80 million is not out of the question. I'm going to go with a prediction of $71 million, which should be more than enough to make Paramount happy.

Fast Five has to deal with direct competition, as well as the Sequel Effect / the Fanboy Effect and even better than expected reviews will likely not be enough to prevent it from falling 50% during its second weekend of release. In fact, a 60% drop-off is hardly out of the question. This gives the film an expected range of $34 million to $43 million during its sophomore stint, and even though I'm predicting it will finish on the low end of the scale at $37 million, this will still be enough to make it the highest grossing film to be released in 2011, surpassing Rango by an easy margin. How long it stays on top is another matter.

The first of two counter-programming films opening this week is Something Borrowed, a romantic Dramedy that is based on the first of a popular series of books. It does have a few cast members with significant name recognition, but very few with proven box office track records. Additionally, it's very unlikely that its word-of-mouth will translate into high ticket sales, because the reviews are terrible. The odds of this film becoming a mid-level hit are not great, but a start of $12 million should keep the studio happy, if not overjoyed.

The second counter-programming release of the weekend is Jumping the Broom. This film has a similar target demographic as Something Borrowed, but aimed at African-Americans. This could help it stand out and perform well at the box office, but is also explains why it is opening in barely more than 2,000 theaters. Mixed reviews probably won't hurt the movie, as it is a romantic comedy and 41% positive is not a bad Tomatometer Score for the genre. If it can reach $10 million over the weekend, I think it will be considered a success. It might not make it there, but it should come close.

Rio should be right behind with just over $9 million over the weekend to lift its total to $116 million after four. It is a respectable hit domestically, but has proven to be a much more popular film internationally and is already showing a profit.


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Filed under: Weekend Preview, Thor, Rio, Fast Five, Jumping the Broom, Something Borrowed