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Will There be a Full Moon Over the Weekend?

November 19th, 2009

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This could be a surprising weekend at the box office, as the buzz for New Moon has hit new heights of insanity. There's no doubt that it will be the number one film of the weekend, and almost no doubt that it will top Twilight, which was the number one film this week last year. It appears the only real question is how many records can it break along the way.

New Moon could be the biggest surprise at the box office for a while, but I'm not sure that will be a good thing. The buzz has grown to the point where a lot of box office analysts think it will break The Goblet of Fire's record for biggest day and biggest weekend in November. Others think it will have the best opening weekend of the year, topping the $108.97 million made by Revenge of the Fallen. There is some evidence that this could happen, including reports of record-breaking ticket presales. On the other hand, we heard similar reports for Michael Jackson's This Is It, and after three full weeks of release, the film still hasn't made as much as some were predicting it would open with. Additionally, New Moon's reviews have gone from just over 50% positive earlier in the week to just 30% positive now. Ouch. This is a massive drop-off from Twilight's reviews, which were not particularly good to begin with. Depending how bad the Tweets are about this movie, it could make more during its opening day than it does during the rest of the weekend, and it could make more during its opening weekend than it does during the rest of its run. That's the worst case scenario and it could avoid both fates. The consensus seems to be $105 to $115 million, but I have a gut feeling it will disappoint. Topping Twilight seems like a no-brainer, which makes $75 million or so the low end of expectations, but I have no idea where it will land within those two extremes.

On a side note, Twilight was re-released in just over 2,000 theaters on Thursday night for a one-time showing to help promote the new release. It will be interested to see how much money that will bring in and if it can help the movie cross $200 million domestically.

After a stunning opening, 2012 is just looking to avoid a 60% drop-off this weekend. It will be aided by the lack of direct competition among the three wide releases. Granted, New Moon will steal some of its audience thanks to its sheer size, and The Blind Side might do the same due to its football theme, but they shouldn't have too big an effect. Reviews won't help 2012 and a 50% drop-off is practically guaranteed, which would leave the film with under $33 million over the weekend. A 60% drop-off, on the other hand, would give it just $26 million from Friday to Sunday. I think it will just beat that mark, so look for $27 to $28 million over the weekend and close to $110 million after two.

More than two years passed between Premonition and The Proposal, but The Blind Side will be Sandra Bullock's third wide release of the year. The Proposal became the biggest hit in her career, while she managed to help All About Steve become a mid-level hit, despite serious hindrances that included its release date and terrible reviews. The Blind Side has much better reviews that are just below the overall positive level. Additionally, its release date is a lot stronger, while it could do well in the counter-programming department. Best case scenario is $20 million over the weekend and $80 million overall. That is probably a little too optimistic, but $17 million over the weekend and $60 million overall is not.

When it comes to Disney's A Christmas Carol, the studio must be thinking, "The holidays are just around the corner. Please stick around in theaters long enough to get a holiday bounce." Last week's 26% drop-off will certainly help that cause, and while many films hold up better the third weekend of release compared to the second, it is unlikely to match that figure this weekend. On the other hand, adding another $15 million to $16 million is not an outrageous prediction and that would give the film about $83 million in total. This in turn would put it on pace to hit $100 million by the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, maybe. It could be close. As long as the film doesn't collapse this weekend, it should get to that milestone by the end of its run.

Planet 51 is a family film opening the weekend before Thanksgiving, which means it should be huge. Should be. The reviews have been very weak at just over 20% positive, while the buzz has been even weaker. An opening theater count of 2,600 is not great for this type of film, and it shows the studio is not particularly confident in its chances. It could surprise and grab third place with $18 million, or it could miss the top five with less than $10 million. $13 million to $14 million and fifth place is the most likely scenario, which means it will need long legs just to end up as a mid-level hit.

One last note, Precious continues to expand and could double its box office total over the weekend with between $10 million and $11 million and $20 million to $22 million in total. However, even if it does this, it will likely be squeezed out of the top five thanks to the three new releases.

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Filed under: Twilight, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, The Blind Side, Precious (Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire), Disney's A Christmas Carol, Planet 51, 2012