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Weekend Predictions: Will Moviegoers Get a Kick Out of Puss in Boots?

October 27th, 2011

Puss in Boots was pushed up a week and will likely dominate the pre-Halloween weekend with last weekend's winner, Paranormal Activity 3, coming in a distant second. There are a couple of other new wide releases, In Time and The Rum Diary, but neither are generating a lot of buzz. There is some good news, as this weekend last year was a real disappointment and there's a chance both Puss in Boots and Paranormal Activity 3 will earn more than last year's number one film, Saw VII. Hopefully October can end on a high note, because it's been a bad month so far.

Puss in Boots is a spin-off to Shrek, which is the biggest animated franchise of all time. It's no surprise that the studio wants to keep that money train going. However, while the franchise has earned $1.27 billion domestically, the most recent installment missed expectations at the box office, and the previous two films struggled with critics. Fortunately, Puss in Boots is doing very well with critics. Granted, 81% is below the reviews earned by the first two Shrek films, but it is clearly the best wide release of the week. It is also the widest release of the week and really the only film earning major buzz. Finishing in first place over the weekend won't be a problem; however, it might not match Shrek's opening from a decade ago. It might be extremely close and an opening of $42 million, plus or minus $1 million, is the most likely outcome.

Paranormal Activity 3 won't reach $100 million this weekend, even with a little boost that Halloween could offer the horror flick. That said, it should get there. By the end of business on Thursday, the film should have more than $60 million and unless it has a total collapse over the weekend to below $20 million, it should get to the century mark before its done its theatrical run. Falling that much is a statistical possibility, but unlikely. Falling 60% to $21 million is probably as bad as it will get, but earning as much as $25 million is also not out of the question. The lower end is more likely, but $22 million during its sophomore stint is more than enough to keep the studio happy.

The next wide release of the week is In Time, which is a high-concept science fiction action film. High-concept films can be a hard sell, and the film's reviews are not going to help. Justin Timberlake leads the cast, but I'm not 100% sold on his box office drawing power. He did star in his first live action $100 million hit in the summer, but more than half his total career box office has come from two films for which he provided just his voice. There's not a lot of overlap in the target audiences of this film and Puss in Boots, but Paranormal Activity 3 could still eat away at its box office. If all goes well, it might steal second place with $20 million. Or it might struggle to top $10 million. Most predictions are a little on the low end and $13 million is probably the safest bet.

The final wide release of the week is The Rum Diary, which is based on a novel by Hunter S. Thompson and stars Johnny Depp as, well, let's face it, Hunter S. Thompson. (It's not exactly autobiographical, but it was certainly inspired by the author's time in Puerto Rico.) So far the film's reviews are mixed, but a little better than Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas's reviews. And while Johnny Depp is one of the most recognized actors in the world, one is never sure how moviegoers will react to his performances. The film's theater count is the smallest of the three wide releases and it appears it is tracking for $8 million, more or less. It could do as well as third place with $12 million, or miss the top five with $6 million. Hopefully it will reach the high end, because we could really use some good news.

Real Steel and Footloose will be fighting for fifth place and both should earn between $6 million and $7 million. Like last weekend, Real Steel has the advantage, but it could be really close.

One final note, Anonymous was supposed to open wide this week, but now it's only debuting in a couple of hundred theaters. More on its box office chances on Friday with the Limited Release Report.


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Filed under: Weekend Preview, The Rum Diary, Puss in Boots, Footloose, Anonymous, Real Steel, In Time, Paranormal Activity 3