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Not Quite the Last Weekend of Summer

August 26th, 2010

The last weekend of summer is actually the Labor Day long weekend, which is next weekend. So that makes this weekend the penultimate weekend of summer, which is one of the worst weekends of the year to open a film. Last year was a bit of an exception with The Final Destination opening with $27.41 million. There's almost no chance The Last Exorcism will perform that well; in fact, if it matches Halloween 2's opening, I think the studio will be happy.

The Last Exorcism is virtually guaranteed top spot on the box office chart this weekend for a few reasons. Firstly, not a lot of horror films have come out this summer, so the pent up demand is likely quite high. Even Piranha 3D, which came out last weekend, could be considered "Camp Action / Horror" where the entertainment comes from watching gruesome kills, rather than true horror where the anticipation is more important. Secondly, the reviews are excellent so far. At this time of year, if a film can earn a Tomatometer Score of 40% positive or better, I'm happy. 74% positive is amazing. Finally, it's practically the only game in town. There is another film opening wide and a third getting re-released, but this film's theater count could end up being higher than the other two's combined. So top spot is virtually guaranteed, but how much it will make is decidedly up in the air. On the high end, it could easily top $20 million during its opening with a per theater average of $8,000 or higher. On the other hand, people could look at the trailer and think, "It's a Blair Witch / Paranormal Activity rip-off." and it might not crack $10 million. Early buzz suggests the former is more likely than the latter, while I'm going with an opening weekend prediction of just over $17 million.

The only other new release opening wide is Takers, but it might not quite have the theater count to be considered truly wide. This heist film is opening in roughly 2,000 theaters and with reviews that at the moment are exactly 50% positive. In comparison, The Lottery Ticket opened last weekend in a similar number of theaters, but with significantly weaker reviews. On the other hand, that film is a goofy comedy, so its reviews are not as big of an issue. However, heist movies needs sharper execution to work, just like a heist needs sharp execution to work. I think Takers could match The Lottery Ticket's opening nearly perfectly, which would give is second place with ease. But there's a chance it will really struggle and the worst case scenario has it struggling to reach the top five.

The Expendables continues its solid run this weekend and will likely add another $8 million to lift its running tally to about $80 million.

Eat Love Pray should be close behind with $7 million over the weekend and $60 million after three. I think it is safe to call it a mid-level hit and as long as it does respectable business overseas and on the home market, it should be profitable.

Will this be the weekend The Other Guys finally makes it to $100 million? Maybe. As of last weekend, the film had $88.25 million in the bank, while it is on pace to make about $5 million from Monday through Thursday. This means it will need to make close to $7 million over the weekend to get to the century mark, but $6 million is more likely. It's going to get there, it's just a matter of days now.

The final film of note is Avatar, which is being re-released in 811 theaters as a "Special Edition". There are 8 minutes of new footage, which may or may not be enough to get people back into theaters. It will need to make about $5 million to reach the top ten, which is possible, but just missing out with $4 million is more likely. Even if it bombs, it will push its running tally past $750 million domestically, and if it does well, expect further re-releases in other markets, which would push its international total past $2 billion.

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Filed under: The Expendables, Avatar, Takers, The Other Guys, The Last Exorcism, Eat Pray Love