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How High Will the New Releases Reach?

April 7th, 2011

So far 2011 has been a disappointment and the industry is desperate for a win before we get into the lucrative summer blockbuster season. We don't want to start summer with a slump hanging over our heads. Last weekend Hop got off to a faster than expected start, and if one or two of this week's new releases do the same, we could have our first legitimate win in the year-over-year comparison. That's not likely. Last Year we had three films earn more than $20 million, while this year Hop's the only one likely to do the same. We do have some good news, as three of the four new releases have a good shot at topping original expectations and perhaps the depth further down the box office chart will be enough.

Last weekend many box office analysts thought Hop would struggle to make $24 million at the box office. This weekend, a lot of analysts are making the same prediction. Thanks to excellent reviews, a family demographic, and not much in the way of direct competition, Hop should hold on very well during its sophomore stint. Additionally, while opening with $24 million would have been merely okay, earning $24 million during its second weekend of release would give the film $70 million in total. Even if it misses that mark and only makes $20 million, it will still be on pace to reach $100 million by the end of its box office run. It should also be more than enough to keep the film in top spot at the box office, but I'm hoping the new releases prove to be a little more competitive.

The film with the best shot at scoring an upset win appears to be Arthur, which is experiencing an uptick in buzz at the perfect time. Granted, a lot of people were attacking the very concept of this film when it was first announced, as the original was quite beloved and was a career-defining role for Dudley Moore. On the other hand, this film is not winning over many Critics and its Tomatometer Score is somewhere between unacceptable and among the worst of the year. At least that doesn't seem to be affecting ticket sales and the film should secure second place with $15 million, more or less. Anywhere from $13 million to $17 million is likely, which puts its in the same range as two of the three other new releases.

At the beginning of the month, I thought Your Highness had similar box office potential as The Pineapple Express. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case. Firstly, its reviews are much weaker than Pineapple's. Secondly, its buzz suggests its target audience could pull a Scott Pilgram. While it likely won't match original expectations, an opening of $14 million isn't terrible for a film that cost $50 million to make, but it means it will have to rely on strong home market sales to break even.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend could come from Soul Surfer, which is tracking at $8 million to $14 million. To put this in perspective, even the low end is better than expected, while the high end for its opening weekend is close to what it was expected to earn in total. Its reviews are middling, but better than a lot of wide releases earn. A lot of critics are commenting that the movie takes an inspiring story and impressive performances by AnnaSophia Robb et al and wastes it with TV movie execution and heavy-handed preachiness. The latter flaw probably won't hurt the film with its target audience, but it could limit its appeal. That said, given its production budget, a $12 million start is great.

The final wide release of the week is Hanna, which is earning the best reviews of any of the new releases at 72% positive. Unfortunately, that will probably not be enough to open any higher than fifth place. The film is tracking at between $8 million and $10 million, which is disappointing, but as expected. It also means its per theater average will be low enough that theater owners won't be willing to give the film long enough for its word-of-mouth to help. Perhaps it will perform better on the home market.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Your Highness, Arthur, Soul Surfer, Hanna, Hop