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Weekend Predictions: How Super Will Super Be?

June 9th, 2011

After X-Men: First Class opened on the low end of expectations last weekend, it is even more important that Super 8 carries its weight this weekend if 2011 is to continue its winning ways. Even if Super 8 does land on the high end of expectations, it might not be enough, as this weekend last year saw the release of The Karate Kid, which was a surprise hit that opened with $55 million.

Super 8 is directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg. That's an impressive pedigree. It also has strong reviews that should help its legs. On the other hand, it is a new property, so there isn't a built-in fanbase, and that could really hurt the film at the box office during its opening weekend. Perhaps this is why the studio released it on Thursday night in 300 theaters, including more than 200 IMAX screens. Early showings in select cities could help boost the word-of-mouth, which is something this film will rely on in the coming weeks. The best case scenario has the film earning just over $40 million during its opening weekend and with better than average legs finishing with more than $125 million. On the other hand, it might fail to reach first place with $25 million, which would not be enough to encourage theater owners to keep it around for a long time, even if the legs are better than average. The consensus appears to be just over $30 million, and it is hard to argue with that. I'm going with $31 million, which should be enough to be considered a hit, given its modest-for-a-summer-blockbuster production budget.

Despite landing on the low end of expectations, X-Men: First Class won last weekend with ease and it might repeat on top of the charts this weekend. It does have a couple strikes against it, including more or less direct competition, plus the Fanboy Effect. It does have excellent reviews backing it up; however, it has been my experience that when it comes to reviews vs. the Fanboy Effect, the latter nearly always wins out. A 50% decline is almost assured, which would leave the film with $27.5 million over the weekend, while a 60% decline can not be discounted, which would leave it with just $22 million. If it can beat expectations, while Super 8 struggles, then it could repeat as box office champ. That said, I think second place with $25 million is more likely.

Sometime on Friday, The Hangover 2 will top $200 million at the box office. And after earning just over $15 million over the weekend, it will have overtaken Fast Five as the biggest hit of 2011 so far. It won't be as big a hit as the original, at least not domestically, but since the studio is already working on a third film, it has done well enough to make them happy.

Kung Fu Panda 2 should be right behind with just under $15 million. It too will not match its predecessor, but if it can do well internationally and on the home market, then the studio should be happy. I don't know if it will make them happy enough to extend the franchise, on the other hand.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will also overtake Fast Five over the weekend and earn $9 million during its fourth weekend of release. It probably won't get there before The Hangover 2 does, so at no point will it be the highest grossing film of 2011.

The only other wide release of the week is Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer. The film is opening in 2,500 theaters, which is much more than last week's estimates. However, its reviews are barely in the double-digit range and currently sit at just 11% positive. Granted, the young kids at the heart of the film's target demographic don't read reviews, but their parents do, and they are the ones who have to shell out for movie tickets. Perhaps it will surprise and earn a spot in the top five with $10 million, but somewhere between $7 million and $8 million is more likely.

Midnight in Paris will expand semi-wide this weekend and will be playing in just under 1,000 theaters. It should earn $6 million over the weekend, more or less, lifting its running tally to $14 million. This would be enough to surpass Bullets Over Broadway on Wood Allen's career hit list, while it will be poised to enter his personal top ten soon.

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Filed under: Weekend Preview, The Hangover Part II, Kung Fu Panda 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Midnight in Paris, X-Men: First Class, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, Super 8