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Will New Releases be Legendary?

September 23rd, 2010

It's the final weekend of September and there are three and a half new releases this week looking to cash in. We could have a race for the top, as two films, Legend of the Guardians and Wall Street 2 are both vying for top spot. It might be close enough that one could win Friday night at the box office, while the other wins the weekend as a whole. Or perhaps one will win opening weekend, while the other will finish its box office run with more. Either way, combined they should help 2010 keep pace with last year, which didn't exactly have a strong crop of new releases.

It appears most analysts are predicting Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps to win the box office race; in fact, some are picking it to win with ease. I'm not sure it will come out on top for a few reasons. Firstly, Michael Douglas's biggest days at the box office are behind him and while he's been in more than a few critically acclaimed smaller films recently, the last time he was the headliner in a wide release was 2006's The Sentinel, which made just $36 million in total. Secondly, the original Wall Street came out more than 20 years ago and a lot of people have never seen that movie, even if they recognize the "Greed is good." quote. Finally, despite very strong early reviews, the film's Tomatometer Score has sunk and it is now barely above 50% positive. That's not bad, especially for this time of year, but it is hardly a major selling point. Some think it could earn as much as $30 million over the weekend, but I'm going with just over $25 million. That's still a great start, especially for this time of year.

The only other film with a shot at first place is Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole. The potential is there for this movie to be a $100 million hit. The studio is certainly hoping it gets there, as it cost about $100 million to make. However, early reviews are not exactly stellar and its Tomatometer Score has slipped below the overall positive level. Also... Owls? The movie is based on a book series that is mostly unknown here and I don't think owls are the best animal to lead a movie. They don't have the "cool" factor like dinosaurs or dragons, while they are not cute like chipmunks, for instance. That said, this time last year Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs earned $25 million during its second weekend of release and I think this film should be able to match that figure. With a little luck, it could win the weekend and perhaps even cross $100 million at the box office, but it is more likely it will just fail to reach both of those goals.

With Oscar-worthy reviews, The Town is looking to ride excellent word-of-mouth during its sophomore stint at the box office. Its midweek numbers are promising and a sub-40% drop-off is possible. If it were to do that, it would add more than $14 million over the weekend for a total of $48 million after two. Even if it fell 50%, it would still pull in close to $12 million giving it a running tally of $45 million, which is more than it cost to make. It is well on its way to profitability, which should help Ben Affleck direct many more movies in the future.

The third wide release of the week is You Again, the latest result in the revival of Betty White's career. Actually, the film stars Kristen Bell, which is not a good sign. While the actress is talented, her choices in movie roles have not been impressive and her last film, When In Rome, opened in third place with just over $12 million. This film might perform a little better and earn third place with $15 million, or it could land in fifth place with just under $10 million. Given its early reviews, the low end it more likely. Look for fourth place with $11 million over the weekend and a quick exit from theaters.

Easy A managed to earn incredible reviews; however, its target audience is a little more fickle, meaning a 50% drop-off is much more likely. That would leave the film with just under $9 million over the weekend for a total of over $30 million after two. It might last long enough to get to $50 million in total, which is enough to call it a solid midlevel hit, but even if it fails to get there, it was a very cheap movie to make, so as long as the distributor didn't spend a ridiculous amount of money on advertising, it will make a profit sooner rather than later.

I said there were three and a half wide releases this weekend, well the half release is The Virginity Hit, which is opening in an estimated 650 theaters. The film does have the backing of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, but its reviews have gone from bad to worse. Also, the film was pushed back two weeks at the last minute, which suggests the studio doesn't have a lot of faith in the movie. Finally, opening in select theaters rarely works out. The best case scenario at this point is opening in the lower part of the top ten and finding an audience on the home market thanks to an Unrated DVD / Blu-ray. Worst case scenario is missing the Mendoza Line during its opening and flaming out of theaters before the end of October. I think it will avoid that fate, barely, and I'm going with an opening of just over $2 million.

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Filed under: Weekend Preview, You Again, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, The Town, Easy A, The Virginity Hit