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Weekend Predictions: Will Dark of the Moon Burn Bright?

June 30th, 2011

It's Independence Day long weekend, which is generally one of the busiest weekend of the year. School kids are all out of school for summer, adults have Monday off, and it is the perfect time to celebrate by going to an air conditioned movie theater. Unfortunately, while there's a lot of hype surrounding the megawide release of the week, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the reality might not live up to the hype. It's already off to a slow start compared to last year's number one film, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, and since 2011 is still $400 million behind 2010, we can't afford a major loss this weekend.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon has the tough job of coming on the heels of Revenge of the Fallen, which was not only one of the biggest box office hits of 2010, which sets up high expectations, but it is also the worst film to ever cross $400 million domestically, which could lower demand for this film. If Dark of the Moon doesn't become the biggest hit of the summer so far, it will be seen as a major box office bomb. However, there's a very serious chance that the potential audience were so disappointed by the second film that they decide to give this one a pass. Or at the very least, these people will wait for word-of-mouth before they decide whether or not to spend money on this film. This is bad news for the studio, as the reviews are closer in quality to the second film than the first film. Hell, at this point, 57% positive reviews seems like an impossible dream for the franchise. So will this have an effect? It's likely that it already did. Dark of the Moon only made $43.23 million during its opening day, and that's if you include Tuesday's select theater release. Granted, this is the fifth or sixth biggest opening Wednesday of all time (depending on if you consider Tuesday just a preview and not its true opening day and if you count the full $43.23 million as one day's take). However, there were quite a few people expecting the film to open with more than $60 million on Wednesday. Maybe it won't collapse quite as fast as Revenge of the Fallen did, and by Monday it will show stronger legs. That would mean the film makes $24 million tonight, $100 million from Friday through Sunday, and another $25 million on Monday. Or, there's a chance the film its legs will be no better than before, which will result in a in less than $20 million tonight, $70 million over the weekend, and less than $20 million on Monday. The lower end seems more likely, and I'm going with $21 million tonight, $80 million over the weekend, and $20 million on Monday for a six-day opening of $165 million.

Cars 2 will easily top $100 million over the weekend and as thanks to the holiday should have a pretty soft decline. It might fall less than 40%, which would give it $40 million over the three-day weekend. However, with weaker than expected reviews, parents might be looking to take their kids somewhere else this weekend, resulting in just under $40 million over four days instead of over three.

There could be a tight race for third place between Bad Teacher and Larry Crowne, two comedies going after mature audiences. Although the definition of mature is quite a bit different for the two movies. Larry Crowne is clearly aimed at people old enough to think Transformers: Dark of the Moon will be a noisy waste of time, while Bad Teacher is mature only in the sense that it is R-rated. Unfortunately for Larry Crowne, it's target audience is the one most likely to read reviews, and its reviews are bad. Granted, it is a romantic comedy, which tend to have weaker reviews because of their formulaic nature, but 34% positive is still lower than expected. Look for Bad Teacher and Larry Crowne to finish in a virtual tie for third place with $19 million over the four day weekend, with the former a slight favorite over the latter.

There could be a real log-jam for fifth place between three holdovers, Mr. Popper's Penguins, Super 8, and Green Lantern, as well as the final newcomer this weekend, Monte Carlo. All four films should finish within a range of $7 million and $9 million

The only new film in that mix, Monte Carlo, is stars Selena Gomez, who plays the dual role of normal American tourist in Paris, and the super-rich tabloid fodder British heiress. So far the reviews are mixed, but inline with expectations. On the other hand, the buzz is not growing like I expected it would. Reaching the top five is not impossible, but it's far from guaranteed either. Pie in the sky, the film could make $12 million over four days. However, $8 million is far more likely.

Mr. Popper's Penguins will probably grab fifth place, as it has the least amount direct competition to deal with. Super 8 should snag sixth place, because while Transformers: Dark of the Moon is more or less direct competition, Super 8's reviews are among the best in the top ten. Green Lantern could fall to eighth place, because not only does it has to deal with Transformers, but its reviews are terrible. Its daily numbers are already lower than the other two films, plus, its losing the most theater on Friday of the three holdovers.


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Filed under: Weekend Box Office, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Green Lantern, Cars 2, Bad Teacher, Monte Carlo, Larry Crowne, Super 8, Mr. Poppers's Penguins