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Will the Box Office have a Spring in Its Step?

March 31st, 2011

It's a new month and we are hoping for reasons to celebrate. So far 2011 has not brought a lot of big hits with it. Only once in three months did 2011 top 2010 in the year-over-year comparison, and even then it was due to a misalignment in holidays. Sadly, that won't turn around this weekend, as it is very likely that all three new releases combined won't make as much as Clash of the Titans opened with last year. On the other hand, perhaps Hop and the others will be bigger than expected hits and we can build on that success.

Hop is the clear favorite to win the race to the top of the weekend chart, even if it is not expected to be a monster hit. Not only is it the widest release of the week, but its main competition for family audiences is Rango, which has been out for almost a month. Granted, the film's reviews are really bad, but that shouldn't prove fatal. After all, Yogi Bear and Alvin and the Chipmunks earned similar reviews. Actually, my biggest concern is this film feels too similar to those films and with Yogi Bear struggling to hit the century mark despite coming out during the lucrative Christmas break, it could be a sign that the market for these films has weakened considerably in just a couple of years. Hop should open with at least as much as Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules and I'm going with a prediction of $25 million. That probably won't be enough to reach $100 million, but if it surprises and earns closer to $30 million, it might reach the century mark.

Moving from the widest release of the week to the best-reviewed wide release of the week, Source Code is earning reviews most movies would kill for; in fact, at 88% positive, it is earning reviews that many Oscar-nominated films would be jealous of. That said, Summit doesn't exactly have a strong track record when it comes to releasing blockbusters, outside of Twilight that is. I think the studio would love to duplicate the success of Knowing, but despite the reviews, it will likely have trouble matching the more recent The Adjustment Bureau or Limitless. The last two films and Source Code are all high-concept thrillers at their cores and maybe this film will equal the earlier releases during its opening. It's possible, but most analysts are predicting a far lower result, partially due to the glut of similar films. I'm going with second place with $16 million, which is far from a blockbuster opening. However, with a reported production budget of just $35 million, that would be a great start.

On the one hand, Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Rodick Rules is a family film and those tend to have longer than average legs. On the other hand, it is a sequel, it is dealing with more or less direct competition, and its reviews are middling. That said, while the negatives seem to outweigh the positives, it should still hold on well, down just over 40% to just under $14 million over the weekend for a total of $42 million after two.

The final wide release of the week is Insidious, which will be battling for fourth place. It's the narrowest of the three wide releases, but with a theater count of just over 2,400, that's not a real issue. Its reviews are much better than average for the genre and should be a selling point for a wider audience. The buzz is solid, but not spectacular and it should open with just over $10 million, more or less, which might be enough for fourth place. Since the film cost just $1 million to make, this is a huge success, even if it has weaker than average legs for its genre. (And it genre isn't known for long-legs.) It's P&A budget is probably more than $20 million, so it will still need strong international numbers and / or home market sales to break even, unless it really beats expectations.

Limitless will likely round out the top five with just under $10 million. (This might be enough for fourth place, depending on how well Insidious does.) This means it might earn more in just three weeks than it cost to make and advertise, while after four weeks it should surpass original expectations. The studio should be very happy with this result.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Insidious, Limitless, Insidious, Source Code, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Hop