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Weekend Predictions: Will the Box Office Wake Up?

January 19th, 2012

It's very early in the year, but so far 2012 is on a winning streak. Will that streak continue this weekend? This weekend we have three wide releases, Underworld: Awakening, Red Tails, and Haywire, plus a wide expansion, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Conversely, last year there was only one wide release, No Strings Attached, plus only one holdover that earned more than $10 million, The Green Hornet. This year we should have five films earning more than $10 million and this depth should help 2012 earn a win in the year-over-year comparison.

Underworld: Awakening is the latest installment in the Underworld franchise. This franchise has lasted nearly a decade, but none of the previous three installments have been anything more than midlevel hits. This is the first film in the franchise to be shown in 3D and this has helped some other franchises boost their box office numbers. On the other hand, moviegoers are showing 3D fatigue, so I'm not 100% sure that will be the case this time around. Best case scenario has Awakening topping Evolution for best opening in the franchise with about $30 million. Worst case scenario, it misses first place with less than half that number. Despite the total lack of reviews, I'm feeling a little bullish and I'm going with $25 million.

Red Tails is doing very well in advance ticket sales and that could help it earn first place; however, there are some who think it will struggle to reach fourth place. There's a lot of uncertainty going in. Unfortunately, its reviews are not helping convince a lot of people it will be a hit. So far they are merely 31% positive, which is not a disaster compared to the average for this time of year, but it is also not a selling point. A strong cast, an underserved target demographic and plenty of action could help it win with more than $20 million. I'm going with second place and $15 million.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is expanding wide this weekend and given its run in limited release, it could be a sizable hit. Both The Iron Lady and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy expanded semi-wide recently and both did quite well. This does give some reason to be optimistic, but the film's reviews are still troubling. I don't think it will earn the same per theater average as The Iron Lady or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but $5,000 per theater should be enough to earn third place with $12.5 million, but it could be very close.

Last week's winner, Contraband should come next with about $12 million. Mixed reviews, a crowded marketplace, direct competition and the post-holiday weekend will hurt its chances, but it shouldn't fall too much further than 50%. Additionally, with $12 million over the weekend, it should have about $46 million after two. This is enough to make profitability very likely, perhaps before it reaches the home market.

Beauty and the Beast 3D should round out the top five with about $11 million. It's not living up to The Lion King's 3D re-release, which might give some studios reason to pause before green-lighting their entire catalogue for conversion. However, it is likely going to top $50 million domestically, which is probably more than enough to show a profit. Films that are easy to convert to 3D, like digitally animated movies, will likely be converted on a regular basis.

The final wide release of the week is Haywire, which has Warrior written all over it. That's not good news. The film is opening in just 2000 theaters, but is earning 82% positive reviews. 82% positive? I was not expecting that. Maybe the film will do as well as Colombiana did opening with just over $10 million, maybe it will even be a surprise hit and compete for second place with $15 million or so. However, there's not a lot of buzz going in and $5 million is more likely than $15 million. Look for a spot in the second half of the top ten with just over $6 million.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Beauty and the Beast, Red Tails, Underworld: Awakening, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Contraband, Haywire