Weekend Predictions: Fire vs. Ice

Frozen poster

Thanksgiving long weekend won't be remembered for the quality of the films opening wide. In fact, of the three new releases on this week's list, only one of them is truly opening wide. Homefront is debuting in 2,500 theaters, while Black Nativity is only opening in 1,500. Oldboy is only opening in 600 theaters, but it still has a reasonable shot at the top ten. If it weren't for the wide expansion of Frozen and hopefully a strong hold by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the weekend would be a write-off. As it is, 2013 should crush 2012... mostly because there is a misalignment and this weekend last year was the weekend after Thanksgiving. The post holiday slump meant the top five was only able to bring in a little under $75 million. I'm not saying Catching Fire will top that number, at least not over three days, but it should clear at least that much over the next five days.

This time last year, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 opened earning more than $140 million during its opening, but it fell nearly 70% during the three-day portion of the Thanksgiving long weekend. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opened last weekend with nearly $160 million, but it hopes to avoid such a steep decline this weekend. Given its reviews, this shouldn't be a problem. In fact, with a Tomatometer Score that is close to 90% positive, it should avoid a 50% decline. On the other hand, it has to deal with the Fanboy effect. When amazing reviews come up against the Fanboy effect, the latter wins nearly all of the time. Look for $60 million over the three-day weekend and about $85 million over the five-day weekend.

Frozen expands tonight after earning the best per theater average of the year last weekend. It's a Disney animated film, which already gives it a strong shot at box office success, but it is also earning the best reviews for an animated film all year. On the downside, Catching Fire will still dominate the box office this weekend, so it will have to settle for second place. Additionally, the three of the last four digitally animated films to come out have failed to find large audiences (four of the last five if you count The Smurfs 2). This could mean the market is soft, or this could be explained by weak reviews earned by the recent misses. Hopefully it is the latter and Frozen is able to earn second place with $45 million from Friday through Sunday and $65 million in total.

Thor: The Dark World will be pushed into third place with just over $10 million over the weekend giving it a total of $186 million after four weeks of release. It is still on pace to crack $200 million, while it will top $600 million worldwide. That's an excellent figure and the studio should be really happy.

Black Nativity is only opening in 1,500 theaters, but it looks like it will top Homefront. Its reviews are not good, but they are not a disaster either. Musicals tend to be hit or miss at the box office, which explains the low theater count. I think this one will do well on the per theater chart with a three-day opening of just under $10 million and a total opening of $13.5 million.

The Best Man Holiday will be right behind with $9 million over the three-day weekend. Its running tally will rise to $65 million, which is more than enough to ensure a profit early in the film's home market run.

Homefront will likely miss the top five with $8 million / $12 million. Its reviews are currently only 34% positive, plus Jason Statham, and some of the supporting cast members, have been struggling at the box office recently. Finally, there's just too much competition.

The final new release that might grab a spot in the top ten is Oldboy. This film has some pretty good pre-release buzz, but the reviews are a shade under 50% positive, which is much lower than expected. The film will need close to $4 million to earn a spot in the top ten, which is possible, but there are two limited releases expanding nationwide this weekend, The Book Thief and Philomena, both of which are also aiming at the $3 million to $4 million. I think Oldboy will just miss out on the top ten with just over $3 million over three days and just under $5 million over five, which will be a little more than Philomena and a little less than The Book Thief.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2013-11-27