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No Competition for No Strings

January 20th, 2011

There's only one wide release this week, and it has a clear path to first place at the box office. However, while No Strings Attached will have little trouble winning, the real question box office watchers are asking is: How well will 2011 do compared to 2010? So far the answer to that question as been, "Disastrously." That trend will continue. This weekend last year, Avatar earned close to $35 million, while no new release will make that much. In fact, the top two films will barely earn more than that. If both No Strings Attached and The Green Hornet can earn more than Legion opened with last year, then I'll be willing to call it a victory, of sorts. Not a true victory, but at least we can look at things with some optimism.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, some were calling No Strings Attached Natalie Portman's Norbit. At the time I thought that was unfair, but I didn't realize how unfair it would be. The reviews are still filtering in, but currently its Tomatometer Score is 50% positive. That's excellent for this time of year. That's excellent for a romantic comedy. That's the best Ashton Kutcher's seen in his career. Does this mean I previously underestimated the film's box office potential? Perhaps. Opening with more than $20 million is a lot more likely, while it could perhaps make $25 million at the box office. I'm going to go with an opening of $21 million, more or less, while it might last in theaters long enough to get a small boost from Valentine's Day.

The Green Hornet opened at the high end of expectations last weekend, and it will attempt to avoid collapse this weekend. It does have a few advantages, including the lack of direct competition and better-than-expected reviews. On the other hand, the Fanboy Effect might come into play and the post-holiday slump could also be a factor. I think $16 million is the most likely scenario, but it could finish with $15 million to $18 million and it wouldn't be a shock. Hopefully it finishes on the high end of the spectrum again.

That's it for major players, while there will be a group of four films that will be fighting for the final three spots in the top five. The film with the best shot at third place is The Dilemma, which finished in second place last weekend. But to do so, it will have to overcome direct competition from No Strings Attached, as well as terrible reviews. On the high end, it could land in third place with $10 million, but it could also tumble to $7 million, which might not be enough for fifth place. I'm going with third place and $9 million.

True Grit could benefit from the increased Oscar buzz, as the Oscar nominations will be announced next week. Given its reviews, it should pick up at least a few nods. That might be enough to help it remain in third place with just under $9 million, but fourth place and $8 million is more likely.

There should be a close race for the final spot in the top five between Oscar contenders, The King's Speech and Black Swan. Both won Golden Globes last weekend, and both are major contenders for multiple Oscar nominations next week. One of them might even sneak into third place if the competition stumbles. However, I think the two will finish in fifth and sixth, with The King's Speech earning just over $7 million, while Black Swan will likely finish with just under $7 million. For the latter, that should be enough to secure a final box office of $100 million. For the former, it will still need help in the form of an Oscar win or two to get to that milestone.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, The Green Hornet, True Grit, Black Swan, The King’s Speech, No Strings Attached, The Dilemma