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Weekend Predictions: Are The Expendables Essential Viewing?

August 16th, 2012

It looks like summer will be extended by one more week, as The Expendables 2 is tracking for an opening of close to $40 million, maybe a little more. Even better for the market, it isn't the only new release of the weekend. I think ParaNorman could be a solid hit in a counter-programming role. Not everyone agrees with me, on the other hand. ParaNorman is competing with The Odd Life of Timothy Green, but as a live action family film, it's chances are a lot weaker. The final new release is Sparkle, which only has a 50/50 chance of reaching the top five. Last year there were also four wide releases, but combined they made less than $40 million. The Expendables 2 could make more than that by itself. 2012 should finally break out of its losing streak.

The Expendables opened with $34 million in 2010, but, despite earning mixed reviews, it had better than expected legs and crossed $100 million. It was also a sizable hit on the home market. All of this suggests that The Expendables 2 should start at a faster pace; however, while its early reviews are better, it likely won't have the same legs. Sequels rarely live up to their predecessors in that regard. I think the over / under for The Expendables 2 is $38 million. I'm a little more bullish than most, and I think it will come within a rounding error of $40 million. It will benefit from a total lack of A-list competition over the next few weeks, hitting $100 million before too long.

I see ParaNorman doing about as well as Monster House did back in 2006. It is aimed at the same target demographic. It has the same horror-lite feel to it. It has better reviews. ParaNorman does have a weaker release date and it is stop-motion animation vs. digital animation, both of which will hurt its box office numbers. On the other hand, ParaNorman does have six years of inflation backing it up. I think it will hit $22 million, but there are some analysts who think it will struggle to reach the teens, so keep that in mind.

The Bourne Legacy has to deal with quasi-direct competition this week. Granted, The Bourne Legacy is a serious-minded action film, while The Expendables 2 is not, but the new film will still draw some moviegoers away. Additionally, this film's reviews were weaker than expected and its internal multiplier was off. A 50% drop off is likely, which would leave the film with just under $19 million. That's enough to keep it on pace for $100 million, but barely.

The Campaign will probably avoid a 50% drop-off. Its reviews are good, while it doesn't have direct competition with no R-rated comedies coming out. Ted fell just 41%, which is possible. That would give the film close to $16 million over the weekend, but I think just under $15 million is more likely.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green opened on Wednesday and earned third place with $2.30 million. This is nearly identical to what Hope Springs opened with last Wednesday. However, Hope Springs earned better reviews, so Timothy Green probably won't do quite as well over the three-day portion of the weekend. Still, $13 million over the weekend will still be a fine start for this film.

Sparkle is a film I'm having a hard time nailing down. Before Whitney Houston's death, I had barely heard a word about this movie. Now that it is out, I'm still not hearing a lot of buzz. The reviews are good, but not great, while the lead, Jordin Sparks, is making her theatrical debut. It is opening in the fewest theaters at just 2,244, which suggests the distributor doesn't have a whole lot of faith in the movie. With four wide releases opening up, it is likely one of them will slip between the cracks, and the evidence suggests Sparkle will be that film. Perhaps I'm wrong and it will earn third place with $15 million or so, but it might only manage seventh place with just under $10 million. The safest bet is sixth place with $12 million.

One last note, The Dark Knight Rises should get to $400 million early Friday evening. This is a huge amount, but $100 million less than the low end of expectations. Some people predicted the film would make close to $700 million. For these people, this has to be a disappointment.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, The Dark Knight Rises, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, The Bourne Legacy, Ted, The Expendables 2, ParaNorman, The Campaign, Sparkle