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Every year as the end of the summer school holidays near, the summer blockbuster season simply ends. Usually this takes place early in August, but some years we get an extra week or two of $100 million releases. This year, it could end this weekend. Neither of the two wide releases are surefire hits; in fact, combined they might not make $100 million during their theatrical runs. Worse still, there's a chance we might not get another $100 million hit until November. (This prediction is a little bleak, but certainly not out of the question.) Weakness in the new releases could leave Inception in first place during its sophomore stint, while if it holds as well as some think, it could help 2010 maintain pace with last year.

There could be a real race for top spot between Inception and Salt, both of which seem to be aiming for the mid- to high-$30 million range.

Inception has a slight advantage, as Christopher Nolan has crafted a movie that almost requires repeat viewing thanks to a last second twist that many didn't catch the first time around. (Literally, it's the last second.) Fortunately, the film is also worthy of repeat viewing and on a lot of people's short list for a Best Picture Oscar nomination. The film will cross $100 million either late tonight, or very early tomorrow, and the best case scenario has it pulling in more than $40 million over the weekend. Even a worst case scenario has it earning $30 million and a solid second place finish. Given the buzz, the reviews, and the weakness in the competition, I'm going with first place and $38 million. This will put it on pace to cross $200 million before too long, which will be enough to call it a victory.

Salt could have the Schadenfreude Effect in full force, as it's the film Tom Cruise passed over, and it could open in first place over the weekend. It is earning better reviews than Knight and Day. It will also likely earn more over three days than that film earned over five. However, the odds are that, while it earns bragging rights over Knight, Salt won't be seen as a real success. First of all, its reviews are good, but barely at the overall positive level. Secondly, this is a genre that has struggled recently. It reminds me of Green Zone, but with a better release date. Others are dismissing the film as Bourne with a... well, let's just say "Bourne with a female lead" and leave it at that. On the high end, it could open with more than $40 million. On the low end, it might struggle to reach $30 million. I'm going with second place with $35 million, which will leave it right on the edge of being a $100 million movie.

Despicable Me continues its journey to $200 million and will likely add $20 million over the weekend to take its running tally to nearly $160 million. At this point, a sequel is very likely and I've even heard some speculation on what it will be about. (Gru gets kidnapped and his minions have to rescue him.) This speculation probably has little relation to the end product, but the fact that there is speculation is a good sign. It means people are interested.

The only other wide release of the week is Ramona and Beezus, which stars Joey King and Selena Gomez and is based on a popular and long-lasting book franchise. Most analysts are not very bullish about the film's chances, citing a lack of buzz among the reasons. However, films aimed at young girls are notoriously difficult to accurately predict. It does have good reviews and even a lot of critics giving the film a negative review admit it should please its target audience. On the other hand, I had a similar opinion about Kit Kittredge and look what happened with that film. The best case scenario is $15 million over the weekend and $50 million in total. I'm going with just over $10 million over the weekend and $35 million in total, but I am a little more bullish than most.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice will round out the top five with about $9 million over the weekend to lifting its total close to $42 million. Next Friday it will lose a substantial chunk of its theater count, while it will flame out shortly after that. And if it burns out this weekend, Toy Story 3 could grab its spot in the top five.

- C.S.Strowbridge Weekend Preview: Is Summer Over? - The Numbers

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Weekend Preview: Is Summer Over?

July 22nd, 2010

Every year as the end of the summer school holidays near, the summer blockbuster season simply ends. Usually this takes place early in August, but some years we get an extra week or two of $100 million releases. This year, it could end this weekend. Neither of the two wide releases are surefire hits; in fact, combined they might not make $100 million during their theatrical runs. Worse still, there's a chance we might not get another $100 million hit until November. (This prediction is a little bleak, but certainly not out of the question.) Weakness in the new releases could leave Inception in first place during its sophomore stint, while if it holds as well as some think, it could help 2010 maintain pace with last year.

There could be a real race for top spot between Inception and Salt, both of which seem to be aiming for the mid- to high-$30 million range.

Inception has a slight advantage, as Christopher Nolan has crafted a movie that almost requires repeat viewing thanks to a last second twist that many didn't catch the first time around. (Literally, it's the last second.) Fortunately, the film is also worthy of repeat viewing and on a lot of people's short list for a Best Picture Oscar nomination. The film will cross $100 million either late tonight, or very early tomorrow, and the best case scenario has it pulling in more than $40 million over the weekend. Even a worst case scenario has it earning $30 million and a solid second place finish. Given the buzz, the reviews, and the weakness in the competition, I'm going with first place and $38 million. This will put it on pace to cross $200 million before too long, which will be enough to call it a victory.

Salt could have the Schadenfreude Effect in full force, as it's the film Tom Cruise passed over, and it could open in first place over the weekend. It is earning better reviews than Knight and Day. It will also likely earn more over three days than that film earned over five. However, the odds are that, while it earns bragging rights over Knight, Salt won't be seen as a real success. First of all, its reviews are good, but barely at the overall positive level. Secondly, this is a genre that has struggled recently. It reminds me of Green Zone, but with a better release date. Others are dismissing the film as Bourne with a... well, let's just say "Bourne with a female lead" and leave it at that. On the high end, it could open with more than $40 million. On the low end, it might struggle to reach $30 million. I'm going with second place with $35 million, which will leave it right on the edge of being a $100 million movie.

Despicable Me continues its journey to $200 million and will likely add $20 million over the weekend to take its running tally to nearly $160 million. At this point, a sequel is very likely and I've even heard some speculation on what it will be about. (Gru gets kidnapped and his minions have to rescue him.) This speculation probably has little relation to the end product, but the fact that there is speculation is a good sign. It means people are interested.

The only other wide release of the week is Ramona and Beezus, which stars Joey King and Selena Gomez and is based on a popular and long-lasting book franchise. Most analysts are not very bullish about the film's chances, citing a lack of buzz among the reasons. However, films aimed at young girls are notoriously difficult to accurately predict. It does have good reviews and even a lot of critics giving the film a negative review admit it should please its target audience. On the other hand, I had a similar opinion about Kit Kittredge and look what happened with that film. The best case scenario is $15 million over the weekend and $50 million in total. I'm going with just over $10 million over the weekend and $35 million in total, but I am a little more bullish than most.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice will round out the top five with about $9 million over the weekend to lifting its total close to $42 million. Next Friday it will lose a substantial chunk of its theater count, while it will flame out shortly after that. And if it burns out this weekend, Toy Story 3 could grab its spot in the top five.

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Filed under: Inception, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Ramona and Beezus, Despicable Me, Salt