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Weekend Predictions: Will Moviegoers Jump at a Quality Release?

March 15th, 2012

So far 2012 has brought hit after hit, but what has been lost in the box office success is the dearth of quality releases. Last weekend, there wasn't a single film in the top ten to earn overall positive reviews. (Although Doctor Seuss' The Lorax is very close to that level.) Fortunately that will change this weekend as 21 Jump Street is earning unbelievably positive reviews. It is the only wide release of the week, compared to three wide releases last year. On the other hand, the best of last year's crop, Limitless, opened with less than $20 million and all but the most pessimistic think 21 Jump Street will top that with ease and if the holdovers can hold on, we could see yet another win at the box office.

21 Jump Street is based on the TV show of the same name. The original show was a straight police procedural with undercover cops going into high schools to bust drug dealers and the like. Since the original show was on air so long and the studio wouldn't be able to sell the movie on the name alone, the adaptation is less of a straight adaptation and more of a buddy cop comedy with a similar setup. Did this pay off? Most critics say it did. In fact, with a Tomatometer Score of 86% positive, the film is earning some of the best reviews for a wide release this year. Its box office potential for its opening weekend is around $30 million, maybe a little higher, maybe a little lower. Since it has no competition and the overall box office is strong, I'm going with $32 million, but that's a little higher that the average prediction.

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax fell 45% last weekend and it should hold up a little better this weekend. Its reviews are just a hair below the overall positive level, while there's no direct competition opening this weekend. Look for $24 million over the weekend, which would push its running tally to close to $160 million. It is on pace to reach $200 million and become the first film released in 2012 to do so.

John Carter opened better than a lot of people feared it would, but still nowhere near enough given its $300 million production budget. Look for a drop-off to $16 million over the weekend for a total of $55 million after two. It should finish with between $80 million and $90 million, but unless it makes more than $300 million internationally, it will cost the studio a fortune. It would need to make twice that much to break even by its initial push into the home market.

Project X is dealing with more or less direct competition from 21 Jump Street. It fell 47% during its opening weekend and with reviews that are terrible, it will likely fall close to that amount this weekend and well. However, that will still give the film close to $6 million over the weekend and that's enough to push its running tally to $50 million. That's more than it cost to make and advertise, so the film is well on its way to profitability.

Act of Valor will round out the top five with just under $4 million, lifting it to $62 million in total. It may have already made enough money to break even, without taking into account international and home market numbers.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Doctor Seuss' The Lorax, John Carter, 21 Jump Street, Project X, Act of Valor