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Weekend Predictions: Will New Releases Be Silent?

March 8th, 2012

Three films open wide release this week, but none of them look like they will compete with the Doctor Seuss' The Lorax for top spot. John Carter is the only one with a real shot at first place, but there's a chance it won't make half as much as The Lorax does over the next three days. Silent House is the best-reviewed new release of the week, and if it can remain above 60% positive, it will be the only film in the top ten with overall positive reviews. Finally there's A Thousand Words, but the less said about that film, the better. (It's opening in under 2,000 theaters with zero positive reviews.) Last year Battle: Los Angeles opened in first place with $35 million, a figure The Lorax should top, while the rest of the top ten look about same this year as last. The winning streak should continue.

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax's amazing debut last weekend helped propel 2012 to yet another win, and it should happen again this weekend. The only question is how well the film will hold on. It is a family film with no direct competition and both of these factors suggest strong legs. On the other hand, the film's reviews have slipped below the overall positive level, so the word-of-mouth likely won't be very strong. It will likely fall significantly less than 50%, while falling just over 30% is not out of the question. This gives us a range of $38 to $48 million. I'm going with a drop-off of just over 40% and a sophomore stint of just under $42 million.

For a while now, John Carter had the stench of epic bomb all over it. The film cost a fortune to make; some reports have its final production budget over $300 million. The trailers didn't help sell the film to a wide audience and a lot of people were calling it a rip-off of Avatar, Star Wars, and other films. This is unfair, as the movie is based on a book that was written roughly 100 years ago. According to the critics, the film is much better than the buzz, but still barely above 50% positive. Some think the film will earn more than $30 million, but on the low end, it might not reach $20 million. Considering how much it cost, either result will be a disaster for the studio, but perhaps if it can earn substantially more internationally. Look for $25 million over the weekend and $70 million in total.

Silent House should be significantly further back. In fact, it might not even grab third place. It is the best-reviewed new release of the week, but it is only opening in about 2,200 theaters, which is low. Additionally, it is being released by Open Road, which is a relatively untested distributor. Finally, its only the second film for its star, Elizabeth Olsen, so she doesn't have a lot of power to draw people in. Most pundits expect this film to earn just under $10 million, but I feel a little more bullish and I'm going with $11 million.

Project X also has a shot at third place, depending on how well Silent House does and how fast it falls from its opening. I expect it to fall really fast. A 60% drop-off would not surprise me given its reviews and its target audience. I'm going with just over $9 million, but considering how little the film cost to make, the studio would have been relatively happy with an opening weekend that strong.

Act of Valor should add between $7 million and $8 million over the weekend pushing its running tally to $56 million. It could break even without taking into account international and home market numbers.

The final wide release of the week is A Thousand Words, but with a theater count of just under 2,000, it's not truly wide. It is also opening with zero positive reviews, at least at the moment. Granted, there are only nine reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but this won't help its bad reputation. The film was shot four years ago and was supposed to come out in 2009, but sat on a studio shelf for the past three years. Usually this means it is a terrible movie, and so the film's reputation was really hurt. Additionally, Eddie Murphy has made some really bad movies lately and the film is directed by Brian Robbins, who was responsible for two of them. The odds are stacked up against this one and there is a chance it will open below the Mendoza Line, with less than $2,000 per theater. I think it will avoid that fate, but not by much. Look for $5 million over the weekend and a quick exit from theaters.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, A Thousand Words, Doctor Seuss' The Lorax, John Carter, Project X, Act of Valor, Silent House