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Will Summer Give Us One Last Hit, or are the New Releases Expendable?

August 12th, 2010

There are three wide releases this week, but fortunately they are all aimed at widely different audiences, which means they might all reach their potential. However, that potential might not be enough for the market as a whole to keep pace with last year.

The widest release of the week is The Expendables, which is opening in 3,270 theaters, and which many think it is the clear favorite for first place over the weekend. The film is written, directed, and stars Sylvester Stallone. This is a selling point, but also a source of concern. He hasn't had a $100 million hit since Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, in which he was a supporting character. On the other hand, Rambo only managed $42.75 million a couple of years ago and it was part of a long-running franchise, which meant it had a built in fanbase. Granted, it didn't earn good reviews, nor did it have a very good release date. Expendables has better reviews and a better release date, but not by large margin. Mid-August is hardly the best release date one could choose, while 47% positive reviews is not exactly a selling point. Finally, action films haven't exactly been doing huge business this year. Expectations run the gamut from the high $30s to the mid $20s and I'm going with a prediction of $31 million. It will likely have short legs, on the other hand.

The second wide release of the week is Eat Love Pray, which is only Julia Roberts' second starring role in about five years. It is based on a popular book and there has been quite a bit of buzz going in, at least for this type of film. Films aimed at a more mature female demographic are hardly synonymous with "hype" and tend to have to rely on word-of-mouth. This is where things can get tricky for this film, as its reviews are actually weaker than those of The Expendables. (I did not see that coming.) It's a movie that wants to be a spiritual guide to the audience, but its advice is too shallow and relies too heavily on clichés to work. On the other hand, it's not like the target demographic has anything else to watch at the theaters. Pie-in-the-sky expectations could have it earning first place with more than $30 million. It could also crash and burn, and earn less than $20 million. The low end seems a little more likely and I'm going with $23 million.

The Other Guys will be looking to keep on pace for $100 million this weekend and if it can avoid a sophomore stint drop-off of anything significantly more than 50%, it should get there. The good news is, its reviews will certainly help and it could have a drop-off similar to Step Brothers. That would give the film almost $19 million over the weekend and just over $70 million after two. Even a drop-off of a little more than 50% to $17 million over the weekend should be enough to get to $100 million in total.

The final wide release of the week is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The film is written and directed by Edgar Wright and while it might not be his best film, it is certainly better than the other two wide releases coming out this week. There's a lot of online buzz about the movie, but that doesn't always translate into box office ticket sales. Additionally, while Wright's movies tend to be brilliant, they also tend to struggle at the box office. Finally, the film's star, Michael Cera, is in a bit of a slump himself. If things went perfectly for the film, it could open with more than $20 million and in first place, but that's only if the other two films bomb. On the other hand, it could bomb itself and open with less than $10 million. I'm going with a prediction of $17 million, which would put it in a virtual tie for third place with The Other Guys.

The final film in the top five should be Inception with $11 million over the weekend, leaving it just shy of $250 million after a month of release.

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Filed under: Inception, The Expendables, The Other Guys, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Eat Pray Love