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Weekend Predictions: Will New Releases Conquer Apes?

August 11th, 2011

Four wide releases open this week, but unless one of them is a surprise hit, I think it's safe to say that summer unofficially ends this weekend. That's not to say the films opening this weekend are all destined to bomb and most should at least become solid midlevel hits, but odds are Rise of the Planet of the Apes will retain top spot on the chart. Unfortunately, this weekend last year we did have a surprise hit and there's almost no chance any film this year will match The Expendables' opening and that could mean 2011's winning streak will come to an end. On the other hand, there's a lot more depth this time around and since the four wide releases share very little crossover appeal, they might all reach their potential and that might be enough to eek out a win.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is looking to become the 19th or 20th film of 2011 to reach $100 million at the box office. (There are two films that should cross that milestone this weekend and The Smurfs might get there first.) Excellent reviews and the relatively weak competition have led some to believe it will avoid a 50% drop-off. That would be amazing and would suggest the potential to top the 2001 version of Planet of the Apes by the time its theatrical run is over. However, the market has changed too much since then, and I don't think the reviews / relatively weak competition will be enough to prevent a 50% drop-off. In fact, a 60% drop-off is not completely out of the question either, giving the film a range of $22 million to $27 million. I do think it will finish on the high end, and I'm going with $26 million over the weekend.

The new release with the best shot at topping Rise of the Planet of the Apes is Final Destination 5, but while it may be close, I think it will fall just short. The Final Destination opened with more than $27 million, so if this film merely sells the same number of tickets, it should earn first place with relative ease. However, that film was one of the first of this genre to open in 3-D, so it had the novelty factor to help it out. The novelty of 3-D films has long since worn off. Also, it's competition was much weaker with fewer new releases and weaker holdovers. On the other hand, early reviews for this film are about twice as positive as the previous film's reviews were, but I do need to emphasize the word "early" and by the time the weekend is over, that might change. If is doesn't collapse, and perhaps climbs back over the overall positive level, then maybe word-of-mouth will help the film earn $30 million over the weekend. Opening with between $20 million and $25 million is more likely and I'm going with $24 million.

At the beginning of the month, I figured 30 Minutes Or Less would open with just over $20 million, now it seems just under $20 million is more likely. Early reviews were not bad, but they have since slumped to 46% positive and they are currently the weakest of the four wide releases. Also, the buzz isn't growing like it should. Finally, the flood of R-rated comedies has probably over-saturated the market and after The Change-Up struggled, it's more likely this film will follow suit. There's a chance it could challenge for second place with $25 million, but it could also bomb with less than $15 million. $18 million is a lot more likely than either extreme.

The Help opened on Wednesday, but we don't have opening day box office numbers yet. It likely won't do a huge amount of business on Wednesday, as its target audience are not likely to rush out to see a movie opening day. They are much more likely to wait a bit, read reviews and listen to the word-of-mouth. Fortunately, that should help the film going forward, as the reviews are quite strong. Look for just over $4 million on Wednesday, just under $3 million on Thursday, and $17 million over the weekend. But thanks to its reviews, its target audience, and the Wednesday opening, it should have the best legs of the bunch. Last minute update: Wednesday's numbers were better than expected and the film opened with more than $5 million, so I'm bumping my prediction to $19 million, which might be enough for third place.

The Smurfs is looking to reach $100 million over the weekend, and it does have the potential to get there. By the end of Thursday, it should have between $88 million and $89 million in the bank, while over the weekend it should pull in between $12 million and $13 million. Given its surprising success, it's not a shock that The Smurfs 2 has been announced and it even has a release date, August 3, 2013.

The final wide release of the week is Glee Live 3D, although it's not really opening truly wide, with a debut of under 2000 theaters. The consensus for the film's box office opening is between $7 million and $10 million, but my gut is telling me this could be a surprise hit. The TV show, Glee, is unbelievably popular and there could be a flood of fans rushing to theaters to see the film's limited run. Or they could say, 'Meh. We can see it on TV for free.' Early reviews are more than a little promising; they are 100% positive. Granted, there are only ten reviews on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment, but this is still good news. I'm going to predict just over $10 million, but there's a huge amount of uncertainty here. It could earn double that figure, or half that figure, and I wouldn't be that surprised.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, The Smurfs, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, 30 Minutes or Less, The Help, Final Destination 5, Glee: The 3D Concert Movie