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Weekend Predictions: Will Lion Be King?

September 15th, 2011

It could be an interesting week at the box office, with three films opening wide, Drive, I Don't Know How She Does It, and Straw Dogs, plus a fourth film being re-released wide, The Lion King. There's a lot of uncertainty in the box office predictions for the weekend and I've seen various predictions that have Drive winning the weekend, Contagion repeating on top, and some say The Lion King's 3D conversion will boost it to number one. Unfortunately, while there's a wide range of opinion regarding what film will top the box office chart, there are very few people who think this weekend will be as strong as last year when The Town opened with nearly $24 million and Easy A earned close to $18 million. It's unlikely the top two films will earn that much this year and we don't have the same depth either.

The Lion King is the biggest wildcard at the box office this weekend with predictions ranging from first place with $24 million, to barely making the top five with $8 million. There are some positive signs going forward, including the film's unbelievable reviews, plus when it was first released, it broke box office records for an animated film. The 3D version of The Nightmare Before Christmas did quite well before the Blu-ray was released, and that could be a good omen for this film's box office number. On the other hand, 3D hasn't done particularly well this year, certainly not compared to last year. With advance sales beating expectations, it should land on the high end of predictions and I'm going with first place and $15 million.

Drive is earning some of the best reviews of the year, but this might not be all good news. A lot of critics are praising it as an art house action film, which might be a tough sell to multiplex audiences. Ryan Gosling is coming off one of the biggest hits in his career, but he is still an unproven leading man, while his experience in action films is very limited. I'm going with a prediction of $13 million, which is a little higher than most, but I think it's going to be a pleasant surprise at the box office.

There is a slim chance Contagion will hold on to top spot at the box office, but if it does, it will be a really bad sign for the overall market. After opening with $22.40 million last weekend, the best the film can hope for this weekend is just over $13 million. If that's enough for top spot, there will be a huge year-over-year decline. Even third place with $12 million should be enough to keep the studio happy, as it will give the film roughly $42 million after ten days of release and put it on pace to hit close to $70 million. Its international numbers should be even better, helping it reach profitability early in its home market run.

I Don't Know How She Does It will likely struggle at the box office during its opening weekend for several reasons. Firstly, it is aimed at more mature women, which is the target demographic that is least likely to rush out to theaters on opening day, or even opening weekend. Secondly, it is the most likely demographic to read reviews, and this film's reviews are terrible. Finally, outside of Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker's box office numbers have been bad. She hasn't had a film open with more than $10 million since Failure to Launch, and that came out five years ago. I don't think this film will reach that mark. In fact, fourth place with just over $8 million might be asking too much.

Straw Dogs is the final wide release of the week and it should finish right behind in fifth place with just under $8 million. It is opening in a few more theaters and with slightly better reviews, but the buzz is weak and a lot of people are simply dismissing the film as unnecessary. Also, the drawing power of the three stars, James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, and Alexander Skarsgård, is suspect, to say the least. Granted, James Marsden has starred in a number of $100 million hits, but he's rarely been asked to carry a film. Half of Kate Bosworth's career box office totals come from just two films, Remember the Titans and Superman. Meanwhile, Alexander Skarsgård's Hollywood career has barely begun, so untested is the best way to describe his box office drawing power. Straw Dogs might top I Don't Know How She Does It and earn fourth place with just over $9 million, but struggling to finish in the top five with just under $7 million is also a possibility. I'm going with fifth place with just under $8 million.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, The Lion King, Straw Dogs, Contagion, Drive, I Don't Know How She Does It