Weekend Predictions: Holiday Treats or Lumps of Coal

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug poster

It's the final weekend of the year and there are a lot of films fighting for spots in the top five, including five films that opened on Christmas Day. Unfortunately for those films, it looks like The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug will remain in first place for the third weekend in a row. The Wolf of Wall Street will likely be the biggest of the five new releases, but it is unlikely that it will have a shot at first place; it might only finish fifth. The other new releases are even weaker. Last year there were only three new releases for the final weekend of the year, but none of them bombed, so 2013 might end on a low note. 2013 should still win in the year-over-year comparison, but losing on the final weekend of the year is a bad sign for 2014's debut.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug should remain in first place with $28 million over the weekend, which will be enough to push its running tally past $185 million. This is about $35 million behind An Unexpected Journey's pace, despite it earning better reviews.

Frozen's family friendly nature should help its box office numbers this weekend, as families hit the theaters one last time. Look for $26 million over the weekend for a total of $245 million so far. It has a shot at $300 million in total, which is more than enough to break even, when you look at its international numbers as well.

Anchorman: The Legend Continues started out really well with $8.10 million during its opening Wednesday. Unfortunately, it slipped faster than expected and over the weekend pulled in an estimated $26 million. (We still don't have final numbers from the studio.) Fortunately, there's no real direct competition that opened on Christmas day and given historical norms, it should pull in about $24 million over the weekend, which should be enough for third place.

The Wolf of Wall Street opened with $9.15 million on Christmas day, which was enough for second place; however, it earned a CinemaScore of just a C. A CinemaScore of B- or lower is considered a bad warning sign, so despite the reviews, it might not have great legs. It fell to fourth place on Thursday, but on the high end, it could bounce back to third place over the weekend with just over $24 million. Or it could slip a little further and land in fifth place with $20 million. I'm going with fourth place with $23 million.

American Hustle should be right behind with just under $23 million. Its reviews are stunning and its already an Awards Season player, so it should remain in theaters long enough to become a solid financial hit as well.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty earned a healthy $7.83 million on Christmas day. Unfortunately, it fell to $5 million on Thursday, which is a bad sign. Its reviews are neither good nor bad, so this decline is a little steeper than anticipated. It should still manage sixth place over the weekend with $16 million. The film had a troubled production and in the end reportedly cost $90 million to make, so this isn't a good start.

Saving Mr. Banks should be right behind with $15 million over the weekend. It only cost $35 million to make and with strong reviews and some Awards Season success, it should last long enough to break even.

47 Ronin will end up as one of the most expensive bombs of the year. It cost $225 million to make, but it will only earn a fraction of that. It started out well enough earning $7 million on Christmas day, but it fell nearly 50% during its second day of release. That's a steep collapse, but not a totally unexpected one, given its reviews. It should still finish in eighth place with about $12 million over the weekend, but that's not nearly enough to break even ever.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire should grab ninth place with $9 million. It is still on track to hit $400 million, even if it will fall out of the top ten before then.

Walking With Dinosaurs will miss the top ten with just under $9 million. The family friendly nature of the film will help, but its reviews will not.

There are still more new releases to talk about. Grudge Match earned some of the worst reviews of the Holiday season, which explains why it only managed $3.97 million on Christmas day and $2 million on Thursday. Look for $8 million over the weekend and a quick exit from theaters.

Finally there's Justin Bieber's Believe. It only managed $1.25 million on Christmas Day, but at least it held on better on Thursday pulling in an estimated $1 million. That's a sad state of affairs. It's no wonder there are hardly any reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Look for $5 million over the weekend and another quick exit from theaters.

- C.S.Strowbridge

Date posted: 2013-12-27