Weekend Predictions: How Active Will the Box Office Be?

It's the weekend before Halloween, so that must mean Paranormal Activity. The fourth installment in the franchise should dominate the box office, but the challenge is for Paranormal Activity 4 to top Paranormal Activity 3. The only other wide release of the week is Alex Cross, Tyler Perry's attempt to build a mainstream acting career. There's not a lot of buzz for that film. Last year Paranormal Activity 3 broke the record for biggest October opening. There's a slim chance that will happen this year as well, but probably not. On the other hand, the other three releases made roughly $14 million combined, so while we are not as strong at the top, there's better depth in 2012.

Paranormal Activity has become a yearly ritual taking over from Saw. Paranormal Activity 4 is the fourth installment in the franchise and so far the previous three films have averaged close to $99 million. Will this film raise or lower that average? Eventually, Franchise Fatigue will set it and it did with Saw 4. Because of that, there's a chance Paranormal Activity 4 will bomb, at least compared to the previous release. $30 million isn't out of the question. On the other hand, we could be worried about nothing and the franchise could break the October record, again. On the positive side, the buzz is actually louder this year than it was last year. On the other hand, the reviews are significantly weaker this time around. A Tomatometer Score of 32% positive isn't fatal for a horror film, but it won't help either. I think the film will do well during its opening weekend earning $46 million, but it won't crack $100 million in total. This is still more than enough to ensure yet another sequel.

Alex Cross is the third film based on the novels by James Patterson. The character was first played by Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. Those two films earned bad reviews, but this film's reviews are even worse. In fact, it is in danger of dropping to the single digit range. The buzz has also not grown much from the beginning of the month and this means its box office potential has also dropped. Getting to $20 million will be very difficult, while there's a slim chance it will barely crack $10 million. I think the high end is more likely than the low end, so I'm going with $18 million. Probably not enough to justify a sequel, but enough to break even sooner rather than later.

While Argo only managed second place last weekend, it has already taken over first place on the daily chart and this bodes well for its chances this weekend. Likewise, its reviews should lead to talk of Oscar nominations, which should in turn help its long term chances. There is a chance it will remain in second place with $13 million, but just over $12 million is more likely. This is a solid hold, but not amazing, and given its reviews, it really deserves an amazing hold.

Hotel Transylvania should be right behind with just under $12 million. The film has already made more than original expectations and combined with its international numbers, it is clearly going to break even sooner rather than later.

Taken 2 will likely fall from first to fifth. Of the three holdovers that should place in the top five, its target audience has the most crossover appeal with Paranormal Activity 4, and that should be a major factor. Even so, it should be close behind the third and fourth place films with just over $11 million and this will be enough to give the film a running tally of just over $100 million.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2012-10-18