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Will 2010 Return to Normal?

October 21st, 2010

For much of the year, 2010 has been a banner year at the box office. We've already broken records for the most $300 million movies in the calendar year, 2010 is the first year where two films released during the same year, have reached $1 billion worldwide. We are currently nearly $300 million ahead of last year's pace. However, recently things have not been quite as rosy and we've seen declines on a year-over-year basis five of the past six weeks. Will that change this weekend? There are some positive signs. For instance, this time last year there were three or four wide releases. (It depends on your definition of "Wide".) All four failed to reach initial expectations, dramatically in some cases. This leaves a real opportunity for 2010 to expand its lead. There is only one movie opening wide, plus another expanding wide, but perhaps the lack of competition will be good for the two films.

Paranormal Activity is currently the most profitable movie of all time, at least as a percentage of its production budget. Paranormal Activity 2 will not break that record. However, early reviews suggest it could match its predecessor in terms of raw dollars. Now granted, it is still early with just 12 reviews up on Rotten Tomatoes and things could change. Since Paranormal Activity 2 is earning better reviews than its predecessor and it is a saturation level opening (3000 or more theaters) it should earn more during the weekend than Paranormal Activity managed at its peak. That puts $21 million on the low end of expectations. On the high end, it could earn double that. It will probably just fail to reach the $10,000 mark on the per theater chart giving it an opening weekend of $31 million. With Halloween next weekend, it could have good legs, at least compared to the average for its genre, and for the first week or so.

After smashing expectations last weekend, Jackass 3D will likely see its box office sliced in half, perhaps by quite a bit more. Neither of the previous films fell more than 50%, but neither earned more than $50 million either, and the larger the film starts, the more likely they will be front-loaded. On the other hand, there's no 3D competition this weekend, and that could help. Additionally, its reviews are better than expected. Best case scenario is $30 million over the weekend, which is more than most people thought it would earn last weekend. Hell, worst case scenario is $20 million, which is more than some people thought it would make last weekend. I'm going with $24 million over the weekend and close to $90 million after two. That's almost as much as I thought it would earn in total.

On the other hand, Red could benefit from its more mature target demographic, which would prevent a serious drop-off this weekend. Perhaps a fall of just 40% during its sophomore stint. If it did fall just 40%, it would add just over $13 million over the weekend, but just over $12 million is more likely. That would give it $40 million after just ten days of release, putting it on pace for $65 to $70 million in total. Like the previous film, this is better than originally expected so the studio should be happy with its run.

The only other "new" release with a shot at the top ten is Hereafter, which is expanding from just 6 theaters to over 2000 theaters. I do have some faith in the film's chances, as it did lead the per theater chart last week. Also, it's directed by Clint Eastwood, and it's hard to discount anything he does. On the other hand, the film's reviews are weaker than expected and this is not a genre Clint Eastwood is known for, so it could be harder to sell. On the high end, it could pull in more than $12 million, battling for third place. On the low end, it could make less than $6 million and miss the top five. I'm going with just a hair under $10 million, but I hope I'm underestimating demand.

The Social Network continues its climb to $100 million and should add close to $7 million over the weekend for a total of just over $72 million after four. It will need to pick up award nominations in order to reach the century mark, but given its reviews, I don't think there's any real doubt that will happen.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Paranormal Activity 2, The Social Network, Red, Hereafter, Jackass 3D