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Weekend Predictions: New Releases Will Need Help

August 19th, 2011

Four wide releases open this week, or three wide and one semi-wide, depending on how you define those terms. However, none of them look to be legitimate threats for top spot, as most analysts are predicting The Help will win the weekend. Rise of the Planet of the Apes has a pretty good shot at second place, so we could have the new releases battling for third place. That's kind of sad, but not without precedent. This time last year five films opened wide or semi-wide, but not a single one of them reached the teens at the box office. (Vampires Suck led the way with $12.20 million.) So there's a good chance that 2011 will come out ahead in the year-over-year comparison despite the rather weak selection of new releases.

The Help has excellent reviews and amazing word-of-mouth to help carry it this weekend. Also, because it opened on a Wednesday, its weekend decline is likely going to be very soft. $20 million is not out of the question, but $19 million is a safer bet. That would give the film $70 million after two weeks of release and put it on pace to reach $100 million before the end of its run.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes has made enough to be considered a financial success, and there's a good chance someone's currently working the script for the second and third installments of the film right now. This coming weekend, it should earn about $16 million, which should be enough to hold off any of the new releases, but not enough to hold on to first place.

The best of the new releases will likely be Conan the Barbarian, but it is just as likely that it will be close. This remake / re-adaptation cost $80 million to make and one has to expect the studio spent about $40 million on advertising given its production budget and theater count. It will need to make close to $100 million domestically and even more internationally if it is to break even during its initial run on the home market. That's bad news, as some analysts are predicting it will barely crack $13 million during its opening weekend. There are certainly reasons to worry, including bad reviews and weak buzz, but there's still a chance the film will grab second place with $17 million. Pie in the sky, it could top the chart with $20 million. Third place with just over $15 million is more likely.

The only new release earning positive reviews is Fright Night, which currently has a Tomatometer Score of 77% positive. Unfortunately, the buzz is nowhere near as strong. Part of the problem is the horror / remake label has been a warning sign for several years and I don't think the studio has done a good job convincing moviegoers otherwise. The original was a classic of the genre, but this film is being advertised as more of a traditional vampire movie and there have been way too many of those recently. There's a slim chance it could be a surprise hit and maybe even reach first place with close to $20 million. On the other hand, it could struggle to reach the teens. I'm going with fourth place and just under $15 million.

The widest new release of the week is Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World, but being the widest release of the week is just the only positive thing we can say about the film. So far it has earned zero positive reviews, although to be fair, there are only six reviews on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment, and most of them are not aggressively negative. Yeah, that's not really a compliment, but that's as good as it gets. The franchise has averaged $100 million at the box office, but that's not going to happen this time. In fact, even with international box office numbers that are clearly stronger now than they were a decade ago when the franchise first started, there's little hope it will reach $100 million worldwide. Worst case scenario has the film struggling to open with $10 million, but a $14 million opening is more likely.

The final wide release of the week is One Day, but with a theater count of just 1,719, it's not opening truly wide. It is also not earning good reviews with a Tomatometer Score of just 30% positive. Combined with low buzz, there's little hope it will reach the top five. Most of its target audience will be checking out The Help, leaving this film with a $7 million opening, give or take $1 million.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Conan the Barbarian, One Day, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Fright Night, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, The Help