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Weekend Predictions: A Vacancy for New Releases

September 27th, 2012

There are two wide releases coming out this week that should be in a relatively close race for first place, plus an also-ran that will mostly be forgotten. Last week I thought Looper would win the weekend over Hotel Transylvania; however, that's probably not going to happen. Looper is definitely the better movie, but Hotel Transylvania is opening in more theaters than expected, while Looper is opening in less than expected. Both should do decent business, at least compared to the rest of September's new releases. On the other hand, Won't Back Down will likely struggle just to reach the top five. There's one more new release with a shot at a spot in the top ten, Pitch Perfect. It's opening in more than 300 theaters, which is a risky proposition. If it does open in the top ten, it could expand wide next weekend. I don't think it is very likely, but I'll have more to say with the limited release report. Last year there were four wide releases, but none of them cracked $10 million. The number one film was Dolphin Tale at just under $13 million. If we don't top that this year, we are in a world of trouble.

September is a really weak month at the box office, mainly because kids have just returned to school and don't have a lot of free time to spend at the movies. However, Hotel Transylvania is not the first family film to open on the last weekend of the month. Going to the movies is a good way to reward surviving the first month of school. Hotel Transylvania does have some interesting factors that could help or hurt the movie at the box office. It definitely has a Halloween theme to it, but it is opening a tad early. Plus, there hasn't been a big family film to open in a while, so there's some pent up demand. On the other hand, Frankenweenie opens next weekend, so some families might be waiting for that film, as it is earning better reviews. Granted, a Tomatometer Score of 50% positive isn't bad for a family film and shouldn't hurt it at the box office, while the buzz is good for a family film. Look for first place with $23 million, but it might have to settle for second place on Friday.

Looper has award-worthy reviews and incredible buzz. However, a lot of that buzz is coming from online, and we've seen many times in the past that online buzz doesn't always translate into actual ticket sales. It is also an original Sci-fi film, and those can unfortunately be relegated to niche markets, even with great reviews. Finally, Bruce Willis is off his peak when it comes to box office drawing power, while Joseph Gordon Levitt hasn't established himself as a box office draw as a leading actor yet. I hope the film surprises and earns first place with $25 million, but second place with $20 million is more likely.

End of Watch should ride excellent reviews to a soft sophomore stint decline. On the high end, it could earn just over $8 million, but it is more likely that it will pull in $7.5 million. That should still be enough for third place.

Trouble with the Curve should land in fourth place with just over $7 million. The film will fail to live up to original expectations, but it isn't a complete disaster, just mildly disappointing.

Won't Back Down is a film that is not earning a lot of buzz, while its reviews are the weakest of any of the wide releases. Even worse, its target audience, more mature women, are more likely to read and trust reviews. None of this points to a strong box office result. Fortunately, the competition is really weak and third place with just under $9 million is possible. However, it could also miss the Mendoza like giving House at the End of the Street a shot at fifth place. I think just under $7 million is the most likely result.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Hotel Transylvania, House at the End of the Street, Looper, Won't Back Down, Trouble with the Curve, End of Watch, Pitch Perfect, Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt