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Weekend Predictions: Is the Box Office Looking Good or Good Enough?

February 23rd, 2012

While this weekend is one of the most important weekends of the year for movies, it's not because of the films in theaters. Oscar weekend is generally not a good time to release a film, as a lot of fans will be distracted. To emphasize that, there are four films opening wide this weekend, but three of them are opening in barely more than 2,000 theaters. Expectations for most films are in the mid teens, or lower, and there's a chance that no film will come close to $20 million over the weekend. Obviously this is not good news; however, this weekend last year was a disaster as Hall Pass led the way with just $13.54 million. There's a chance that every film in the top five will earn more than that this year. Granted, that's on the optimistic side of expectations, but even the low end of expectations has 2012 continuing its streak.

I've learned not to bet against Tyler Perry and his latest, Good Deeds, has the best chance at topping the chart over the weekend. However, there are a couple worrying signs. Like most of the rest of his films, this one was not screened for critics, so it is very likely it won't reach beyond his fanbase. Also, since it is not a Madea movie, that fanbase is a little more than average for him. The best case scenario has the film opening well above $10,000 on the per theater average earning about $25 million, but the film could struggle to earn $15 million. Split the difference and we get first place with $20 million.

Act of Valor is the only saturation level release of the weekend, which is impressive, as at the beginning of the month, I wasn't entire sure it would open wide. However, while its theater count is higher than expected, its reviews are another matter. Its Tomatometer Score is a mere 20% positive, which is terrible even for a mindless action film. Add in no big names to anchor an ad campaign to, and the film could struggle. On the low end, it might not top $10 million. On the high end, it might lead the box office with just over $20 million. I'm going with second place with $16 million, but there's a lot of uncertainty here.

Safe House should land in third place with just under $13 million over the weekend, giving it a total of close to $100 million after three. Act of Valor is direct competition, so if the new film struggles, this one could hold on better than expected and there's a small chance it will reach the century mark by Sunday night. Unless it completely collapses, it will get there by Wednesday.

There are some who think Journey 2: The Mysterious Island will grab third place with close to $14 million. That's a little too optimistic for my taste, but if the film did do that, it would suddenly be on pace for a $100 million run. I'm going with fourth place with just over $12 million, which would put it on pace for over $90 million and maybe if the studio gives it a little push, it will reach the century mark.

The Vow currently has about $93 million, including Thursday's box office numbers, which means it should have no trouble getting to $100 million over the weekend. Look for $12 million over the weekend and $105 million in total. It should end its run with over $125 million, which is fantastic given its release date and estimated production budget.

I'm getting mixed signals from Wanderlust. On the one hand, it is the only new film earning good reviews and it has the most star power of the four new releases. On the other hand, it is opening in just 2,001 theaters. If the film were being released by a relatively new studio, one could dismiss this because they wouldn't have great bargaining power with theater owners. However, it's being released by Universal, and that studio is celebrating its 100th Anniversary. This screams "lack of confidence". Maybe it will earn a spot in the top five with $14 million, but it could also fail to reach $10 million. I think the lower end is more likely. Look for $11 million over the weekend.

Gone could live up to its name. It wasn't screened for critics. It is being released by a distributor that has struggled to find a hit outside of its flagship franchise. While its star's last three films opened in the low teens. It will likely open with between $6 million and $7 million, which is hardly enough to be considered a success.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Safe House, The Vow, Wanderlust, Gone, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Tyler Perry's Good Deeds, Act of Valor