Weekend Predictions: New Releases Fight for Table Scraps

It's the beginning of Thanksgiving long weekend tonight, which means it is a busy day for new releases. There are three new releases opening wide, plus another film that is expanding wide enough that is has a shot at the top ten. Unfortunately for the new films, there's little hope any of them will top The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 over the weekend. In fact, there's a chance none of them will top Skyfall for second place. Rise of the Guardians is the only one with a real shot at second place, while Life of Pi and Red Dawn will be in a tough battle for fifth place. Finally, Silver Linings Playbook is expanding to more than 400 theaters and could grab tenth place. The box office last year looks very similar to the box office potential this year. With a little luck, there will be mostly pleasant surprises rather than serious disappointments and 2012 will have another solid win.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 could see its haul this weekend fall by $100 million from its opening weekend. Even if it does, it will still earn first place for the second weekend in a row, as it looks like none of the new releases will come close to $40 million. I think it will avoid this fate earning $43 million over the weekend and $65 million from Wednesday through Sunday. This will lift its running tally to $228 million after just ten days of release.

Skyfall should be in a close fight for second place with Rise of the Guardians. In fact, they might switch places a couple times on the daily box office chart. With stunning reviews and weaker than expected direct competition, the latest James Bond installment should earn second place over the weekend with just over $30 million, while its five-day total should be $41 million.

Rise of the Guardians is the big family film opening this Thanksgiving and there are some strong reasons to be bullish about the film's chances at the box office. First of all, it's a family film opening on one of the biggest long weekends of the year. Also, its reviews are very good, although it is not among the elite animated films of the year. Finally, there is not a lot of direct competition, as Wreck-It-Ralph might be pushed out of the top five. I think the film will grab second place opening night, but will earn third place over the weekend. Look for just under $30 million over the weekend and $41 million over five days.

Lincoln is adding a couple hundred more theaters and that should help it remain in the top five with $18 million / $25 million. This would push its running tally to $53 million and keep it on pace to reach $100 million, assuming it can translate its reviews into Awards Season success.

Speaking of Awards Season success, Life of Pi begins its run tonight. The film is based on an award-winning book and it is directed by Ang Lee, who is no stranger to Award Season buzz. Its reviews are very good, but perhaps not good enough to win Oscars, at least not the prestigious ones. It could win technical awards. It should still have a good start and longer than average legs. Look for $14 million over the weekend and just over $20 million from Wednesday through Sunday.

Red Dawn should get off to a faster start than Life of Pi, thanks to its younger target demographic and its genre. But thanks to its reviews, it will have much shorter legs. I wasn't expecting it to be a good movie, but I was expecting better than the 12% positive reviews it currently has. It should grab fifth place tonight, but over the weekend it will likely have to settle for seventh place with $12 million for a total opening of $18 million.

Wreck-It-Ralph will probably be pushed to seventh place tonight thanks to direct competition, but could recover over the weekend earning fifth place with $15 million for a total of $20 million over the Thanksgiving frame.

Silver Linings Playbook expands from 16 theaters to just over 400 theaters and many think that will be enough to reach the top ten over the weekend. The reviews are 90% positive and it stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, both of whom have had recent box office successes. Also, both are earning praise for their performances and Jennifer Lawrence is thought by some to be the lead contender for Best Actress nomination this year. The film will need to make more than $2 million over the weekend to earn a spot in the top ten, which is likely. In fact, it could earn more than $4 million over the three-day portion of the weekend. I think $3 million over three days and $4 million over five is more likely. This will be enough to warrant further expansion, but probably not enough to expand truly wide.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2012-11-21