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Will New Releases Remove Resident from Top Spot?

September 16th, 2010

After Resident Evil: Afterlife had the new release schedule all to itself last weekend, this weekend we have four wide releases making their debuts. However, thanks in part to the competition, none look to be particularly strong and there will likely be a sizable drop-off at the top of the chart. On the other hand, they should do well enough combined to help the box office grow and perhaps even keep pace with last year.

It looks like the buzz surrounding Easy A is growing at the perfect time and it could be the film to beat at the box office this weekend. Emma Stone stars as a high school student with a squeaky clean reputation who agrees to pretend to have sex with her gay best friend to stop him from being bullied. Also, he offers to pay her money. When he tells his nerdy friends about the deal, they want in, and suddenly she has a very negative reputation, but a very positive balance sheet. Given the release date, I was expecting it would be an interesting idea, but a terrible end result. However, its reviews are excellent at just shy of 80% positive. This would be great for a limited release. There still could be an issue with marketing and on the low end, the film could struggle to get to $13 million or so. On the other hand, it could hit $25 million. I think it will just fail to reach $20 million over the weekend, but will be close enough that Sunday's studio estimate will be over that mark.

The other film reaching for top spot is The Town, which is Ben Affleck's sophomore stint behind the camera. Anyone worried about a sophomore slump, on the other hand, should feel a great sense of relief. (Unless you are pedantic enough to consider a slip from 94% positive to 88% positive a slump.) On the other hand, Ben Affleck the actor is still in a huge slump. He was recently in He's Just Not That Into You, which made close to $100 million at the box office, but that was an ensemble piece. The last film he led that earned $100 million was Daredevil, and that was more than seven years ago. This film won't make it there; in fact, if it gets halfway there, the studio should be happy. It does have a shot at opening in first place with just over $20 million, but second place with $17 million is more likely. After that, it will have to rely on word-of-mouth to get it the rest of the way to $50 million.

At one point, it looked like M. Night Shyamalan would be as much of a box office draw as any A-list actor, which is incredibly rare for a director. However, that day was in 2002. Since then his star has lost its luster, which could spell trouble for Devil. Granted, he's not directing this movie, but it is based on his story and the studio is using his name to sell the movie. This is causing quite a bit of bad buzz and with no reviews, there's nothing to counteract that buzz. On the other hand, it is the only horror / suspense film coming out this weekend, or indeed the whole month. (Resident Evil: Afterlife is arguably more of an action film than true horror.) The film is a long shot for first place, but opening in a solid third place with $15 million is a practical goal to have. With a production budget that is just $10 million, this is more than enough to encourage the studio to go ahead with the planned trilogy.

Speaking of Resident Evil: Afterlife... After opening in first place last weekend, the effects of its reviews and the Fanboy Effect makes a 60% drop-off this weekend seem very likely. That will still leave it with about $10 million over the weekend and $44 million after two, which is more than the original movie made in total.

The final new release of the week is Alpha & Omega. At one point, this film was supposed to be the widest release of the week. That's not happening now. The fact that it went from possibly the only saturation level release to the least wide of the four wide releases, shows the studio doesn't have a lot of faith in the film, which tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Also, its early reviews tend to support this decision. There's still a chance kids will convince enough parents to take them to the movies as a reward for surviving the first two weeks of the school year and it will be a surprise hit. However, missing out on $10 million by a substantial margin is more likely. I'm going with a virtual tie for fourth place with $10 million, but I'm a little more bullish than most.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Resident Evil: Afterlife, The Town, Alpha and Omega 3D, Devil, Easy A