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Weekend Predictions: Will New Releases Bring In the Money?

September 22nd, 2011

It's a busy week with four wide releases, including two that are opening at saturation level theater counts. With such a lot of competition, there's little chance all four will find a sizable audience this weekend. In fact, there's a chance none of them will be able to top The Lion King, leaving it on top for the second weekend in a row. If that happens, there's no telling how many classic films will get a 3D conversion. As for which release have the best shot at becoming the new box office king, Moneyball seems to be the consensus pick, but there is some debate as to how well the new releases will do. There's also some debate as to how well the overall box office will do compared to last year. There's a 50-50 chance the number one film this year will top Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, which earned just over $19 million last year, while the depth is a little better this year.

After topping nearly all expectations last weekend, The Lion King has a real shot at repeating on top of the box office this time around. It's shown remarkable strength during the week, and while it has direct competition, there's a good chance it won't be unseated this weekend. There's some talk that it could earn more than $20 million over the weekend, but that seems a little too bullish for my taste. I think just under $19 million is more likely, but that would have been a great start last weekend and it is fantastic all things considered.

Moneyball is earning surprisingly strong reviews, potentially Oscar-worthy ones in fact. They are so good, it kind of makes you wonder why the film is being released in September. (I guess they wanted to tie it in with the baseball playoffs, which begin next weekend.) As for the film's box office chances, pie in the sky, it could open in the mid $20 million range. On the other hand, anything lower than $15 million will be a disappointment. I think $18 million and second place is the most likely scenario, but it could have better than expected legs, and that will help it recoup its reported $47 million product budget.

The widest release of the week is Dolphin Tale, which is opening in just over 3,500 theaters. It is also opening with a much better than expected 86% positive reviews. Additionally, with 3D ticket prices, it could be a surprise hit and open first with just over $20 million. On the other hand, it is a live action family film, and those can be really hard to predict and there's a real chance families will scoff at the ticket prices, or just decide to see The Lion King again. The film will probably need to open with more than $14 million over the weekend if it is to last long enough for word-of-mouth to matter, but that's not a sure thing. It might not make $12 million over the weekend. Somewhere in the middle is more likely, and I'm going with $16 million.

Abduction is Taylor Lautner's first chance to prove he can carry a film after shooting to stardom in the Twilight series. I don't think it will be a success. First of all, previous attempts from his fellow alumni have proven to be less than successful. Secondly, this film's reviews are tragic. So far it has earned zero positive reviews out of twenty-two. Zero. I didn't think it would be a good movie, but I was expecting 40% positive reviews, or at least close to it. Given this, the film's box office potential ranges from $10 million to $16 million, but the high end is unlikely. Look for $12 million during its opening weekend, but a short stay in theaters.

The Killer Elite is the final wide release this week and its prospects are on the low end of the scale. This is the latest film from Jason Statham and it also stars Clive Owen and Robert De Niro. Unfortunately, while all three actors have their fans, none of them have really wowed critics or box office analysts lately. This film won't break their losing streak when it comes to critics, as it is only earning 25% positive reviews, while it will likely be the weakest new release at the box office as well. There's a chance it won't crack $10 million during its opening weekend, which would allow Contagion a chance to grab a spot in the top five. I think it will crack $10 million, but barely.


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Filed under: Weekend Preview, The Lion King, Dolphin Tale, Abduction, Contagion, Moneyball, Killer Elite