Weekend Predictions: Will Zero Remain Number One?

There are a trio of new releases opening on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, but it looks like Zero Dark Thirty has a good chance to remain in first place. Mama is earning pretty good buzz, even if its reviews are only mixed. The Last Stand is the widest release of the week and the reviews are positive, but the buzz is mixed, to be kind. Finally, there's Broken City, which has the quietest buzz and the weakest reviews. Last year, Underworld: Awakening opened with just over $25 million and there's almost no chance that will happen again this year. Then again, we might have better depth.

Zero Dark Thirty expanded wide last weekend and was able to grab top spot. This weekend, it hopes to remain in first place, but it could be a close race. Given the buzz, the reviews, etc., it could fall less than 20% over the four-day weekend to $20 million. I think that's a little too optimistic, but just over $18 million over four days is a much safer bet. This should be enough for first place, but it might be close.

Mama is the feature-length debut for director Andres Muschietti, but it does have some name recognition that should help it out. Firstly, it is produced by Guillermo Del Toro, who has a good reputation within this genre. Secondly, it stars Jessica Chastain, who just earned her second Oscar nomination and just picked up her first Golden Globe win. The reviews are currently at exactly 60% positive, which is great for this time of year. Critics are complimenting the film's mood and are giving praise to Jessica Chastain, but while many like some of the ideas in the script, most think it wasn't fully developed. Perhaps the film will be the breakout hit of the weekend with more than $20 million over four days, but there is a chance it will struggle with just under $16 million. $18 million is the safest bet.

Broken City is earning the worst reviews of the three new releases this weekend. Critics are complaining that the film is overly complicated, but at the same time spends too much time explaining everything to the audience. Additionally, while there are a lot of twists, we've seen all of them before. There are some big names in the movie, but I'm not sure how much combined box office pull they have. Finally, the buzz is simply weak. It should pull in third place with $16 million, but not everyone is as bullish.

The final new release of the week is The Last Stand. The film is currently earning the best reviews of the three new releases, but by the time you read this, that might have changed. It started out with amazing reviews, but now it is sitting at 61% positive. There's not a lot new here, but it is entertaining, if very familiar. It has been a decade since Arnold Schwarzenegger's last starring role, which might boost interest, but I've seen a lot of people make fun of the movie for that reason as well. I am the least sure about this film's chances. Perhaps it will compete for first place with $20 million, or perhaps it will struggle to make half that. I'm going with $15 million over four days, but I want the film to be a success because I want Kim Jee-woon to get more work, and that might be clouding my judgment.

Silver Linings Playbook is finally expanding truly wide this weekend and many think it will reach the top five. It does have a lot going for it, including stellar reviews and amazing Awards Season success. With more than $40 million in the bank on a $21 million budget, the film is already a financial success. It will only need to cover its P&A budget during its wide release and a $12 million weekend will be a great start to accomplishing that goal.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2013-01-17