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Weekend Predictions: Will Labor Day Weekend be a Painful End to Summer?

September 1st, 2011

Summer officially ends at the box office this weekend, although looking at the numbers it's clear that summer ended weeks ago. The selection of new releases includes two horror films that were not screened for critics and a film that I don't think it would be unfair to call busted Oscar bait. There is a chance all three films will bomb and The Help will remain in first place for the third week in a row. On the opposite end of that scale, all three films could find an audience and 2011 could squeak out a win over 2010.

Not only was Apollo 18 not screened for critics, it has bounced around several release dates. It went from one bad release date, to a worse one, to a dumping ground. Granted, Labor Day weekend is not the worst weekend to open a horror film and there have been a few frightening films to thrive when opening on this date (specifically, Halloween and the two Jeepers Creepers films). Perhaps Apollo 18 will land in the lower end of that scale and open with $18 million over four days, but $15 million is more likely.

The Help hit the century mark on Tuesday, the 21st day of its release. It is already a bigger hit that just about anyone was expecting, and it should continue to earn significant money this weekend. Best cast scenario has the film remaining in first place with $15 million over the four-day weekend, but second place with $13 million is more likely. In fact, it could also land in third place with $12 million.

The second wide release of the week is Shark Night 3D, which is likely going to earn the worst reviews of the weekend, when the reviews finally come it. Had the film gone for camp, it could have been another Piranha. As it is, torture porn with sharks sounds just too stupid to pay full price to go to. I don't think it will crack $10 million over the three-day portion of the weekend, but $11 million including Monday is a relatively safe bet. Maybe with a little luck it will compete for second or even first place.

Colombiana and Rise of the Planet of the Apes should both earn between $6 million and $7 million from Friday through Monday. It's a coin toss as to which one will come out on top.

The final wide release of the week is The Debt; however, since it is opening in less than 2,000 theaters, it's not technically opening truly wide. It is the best wide release of the week with a Tomatometer Score of 76% positive. That's not enough to be a player during awards season, but it is certainly better than the average late August / September release. Sadly, the film opened on Wednesday and only managed second place with $971,000, which is barely more than half of what The Help made that day. Perhaps this was just a problem with lack of publicity and now that word-of-mouth can spread, the film's box office figures will grow. Or perhaps not enough people will see it for word-of-mouth to matter. I'm going with the latter. Look for a total opening of $8 million, with $6 million from the Friday through Monday period.

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Filed under: Weekend Preview, The Debt, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Colombiana, The Help, Apollo 18, Shark Night 3D