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Weekend Predictions: Do New Releases have a 50/50 Chance to Top the Chart?

September 29th, 2011

It's another busy week with three wide releases, plus another opening in just over 1,000 theaters, which is barely semi-wide. The widest release is What's Your Number?, but romantic comedies rarely have breakout success. The best-reviewed is 50/50, but its subject matter might make it hard to sell to audiences. Meanwhile, Dream House had an effective trailer, but there are still no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Courageous should grab a spot in the top ten, but it is not a sure bet. Unfortunately for the year-on-year comparison, none of the new releases look as strong as The Social Network, which opened this weekend last year. In fact, there's a slim chance all four of this year's wide release combined won't match The Social Network's $22.45 million. On the other hand, three of the four could crack $10 million, plus there are three holdovers that could do the same. Depth could be the key to victory in the year-over-year comparison.

At the beginning of the month, The Lion King was only set for a limited two-week run. Plans have changed. Despite coming out on Blu-ray on Tuesday (the review is coming soon) it is still playing in more than 2,000 theaters during its third weekend of release. In fact, it's got a better than 50% chance at leading the box office charts for the third weekend in a row, at least in my opinion. I've seen some analysts predicting Dolphin Tale will hold on better and that will help it take first place, but I don't think that will be the case, not given The Lion King's performance so far. Look for first place and just over $13 million, which would give the film more than $400 million in total and close to $100 million during its re-release.

Thanks to excellent reviews and its target audience, Dolphin Tale should hold on very well during its second weekend of release. It should have the best week-to-week decline in the top ten, perhaps even do well enough to grab first place. I'm going with second place with just under $13 million over the weekend for a total of just over $35 million after two. By this time next week, the film will have earned more than it cost to make, and it will show a profit early in its home market run.

Moneyball also has amazing reviews and a target demographic that suggests long legs. There's no direct competition this weekend, but some of the new releases will grab some potential audience members at the edges of the film's target demographic. Even so, a sub-40% drop-off is probably in store for the film, which would give it $12 million over the next three days and $38 million after ten.

Fourth place could come down to a coin flip with both 50/50 and Dream House having their strengths and weaknesses. 50/50 is earning the best reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Hell, it has reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, while Dream House does not. On the other and, it's a film about cancer. 50/50 has some pretty big stars in the movie, like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston, Matt Frewer, Sugar Lyn Beard, etc. I'm predicting fourth place and just under $11 million, which is admittedly higher than the average prediction, but I think this film will be a pleasant surprise at the box office.

Dream House has no reviews, which is a terrible sign. But it does have an effective trailer and a few big names in Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, and Rachel Weisz. Plus, there are not a lot of direct competition in the marketplace. Unfortunately, even the best case scenario is merely in the low teens, while fifth place with just over $10 million is probably as good as it will get.

What's Your Number? likely won't reach the top five, despite being the only saturation level new release of the week. Its reviews started out mixed, for a romantic comedy, but have since slipped even further. A lot of critics are complimenting Anna Faris' performance, but most of them are saying she's the only good thing in the movie. Maybe it will surprise and crack $10 million over the weekend, but $7 million is the most likely opening figure.

Courageous is being sold to the same target audience that made Fireproof a hit in 2008. However, while that film was a hit, many films aimed at churchgoers also struggle at the box office, and very few find crossover success. The film currently only has two reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but this is a critic-proof film. It is only playing in 1,000 theaters, so reaching the top five is probably out of the question. It could also bomb and miss the top ten. Seventh place with $6 million is probably a pretty safe bet.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, The Lion King, Dolphin Tale, Dream House, What's Your Number?, Moneyball, Courageous, 50/50