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Will Summer End With a Bang?

August 19th, 2010

Five new releases should enter the top ten this weekend, including a few that at least have a reasonable chance at top spot. But there's also a reasonable chance that The Expendables will squeak out another win. Regardless, there's almost no chance the box office will keep up with last year's pace when Inglourious Basterds opened with nearly $40 million. We will be lucky if any film makes half of that this weekend.

Unless The Expendables collapses over the weekend, and by that I mean a 60% drop-off or worse, it should have a solid shot at top spot. Even if it does drop 60%, it would earn close to $14 million, while the best case scenario has it falling close to 50% to $17.5 million. I think earning just under $16 million and remaining in first place is the most likely scenario, which will leave the film on pace to reach $80 million, or at least come close to it.

Of the new releases, most analysts seem to think Vampires Suck has the best shot at the top spot. It did open with $4 million on Wednesday, as expected, which is better than Knight and Day's Wednesday opening back at the end of June. However, while that film held on well on Thursday and through the weekend, there are 26 reasons and counting why this is unlikely to happen this time around. With zero positive reviews and a palpable hatred for the film, there is a chance it will collapse today and barely make a peep over the weekend, but a lot of analysts think it will lead the way with $16 million at the box office, more or less. I'm sticking with my original prediction of $12 million.

Piranha 3D should do similar business. Currently, the film is earning better reviews than expected, but it is still too early to tell where its Tomatometer Score will end up. On the other hand, the buzz has ranged from weak to non-existent, which means that even if the film is better than most people anticipated, it still won't affect its box office chances, as not enough people will see it before theater owners drop it. There is a chance that it will sneak into first place with $16 million, but it could also fail to reach $10 million. The lower end is more likely, and I'm going to predict a close battle for second place with $12 million.

Look for Eat Love Pray to also make about $12 million over the weekend, which means there could be a three-way race for second place. In fact, I suspect these three films will trade places as the weekend progresses.

Next up should be Nanny McPhee Returns. The film is earning the best reviews of the weekend, which should be a selling point. However, the first film wasn't a huge hit domestically, while this film did significantly worse internationally and has a weaker release date. There is a tiny chance Nanny McPhee Returns will open faster than its predecessor but fade quicker. It is more likely that it will struggle just to reach $10 million. I think it will get there barely, but it will need better than average legs just to be considered a mid-level hit.

The Lottery Ticket will likely miss the top five, as it is earning some of the weakest reviews of the week and it is opening in the fewest theaters of the five wide releases. Total lack of buzz is also a concern, but there is a chance that the marketing is more targeted and I'm just not seeing it. Look for just under $10 million over the weekend and a sixth place finish.

The final wide release of the week is The Switch, a film that a lot of people are predicting will be a complete failure at the box office. I don't think it will be a hit, but its reviews are not that bad for a romantic comedy, while the two leads have had some success in the genre recently. I'm going with an opening weekend of $8 million, which is bad, but not as bad as a lot of people are predicting.

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Filed under: Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, The Expendables, Lottery Ticket, Piranha 3D, The Switch, Eat Pray Love, Vampires Suck