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Weekend Predictions: Box Office Needs to get Real

October 6th, 2011

September was a good month and 2011 was able to close the gap with 2010 by $60 million; however, it is still close to $300 million behind last year's pace. This weekend we could see that gap close a little further. There's only one wide release, Real Steel, but it should be bigger than any of last year's three wide releases. In fact, there's a tiny, but statistically significant, chance it could earn more during its opening weekend than the combined opening weekends of Life as We Know It, Secretariat, and My Soul to Take. Ides of March won't be as strong, but it should play counter-programming well enough to grab a solid second place. If the holdovers can hold their own, then the month should start off on a winning note.

Real Steel has a premise that is equal parts cool and goofy. Let's face it, it's Rock'em, Sock'em Robots. However, the reviews are currently at the overall positive level, which is among the best of Shawn Levy's career. The director also has a very good track record at the box office, with no film failing to reach $20 million during its opening since 2003. I think it is safe to call that the lower end of expectations. As for the high end, over $30 million is not out of the question, but it will be tough. The goofiness of the premise could make it harder to sell to moviegoers, but $25 million should be a relatively safe bet.

Ides of March's reviews have come down from their earlier Award-Worthy level, but are still very good. Combined with the impressive cast and George Clooney at the helm, it could become a solid midlevel hit. Unfortunately, since it is only opening in roughly 2000 theaters and the reviews are not longer Award-Worthy, becoming anything more than a midlevel hit will likely be out of the question. Maybe it will surprise analysts and pull in close to $20 million, which would result in some expansion and long legs. On the other hand, it could struggle to top $10 million and disappear before it reaches $30 million. I'm going with just over $13 million during its opening weekend and close to $40 million in total.

Dolphin Tale has already made more than originally expected and more than it cost to make. Over the weekend, it should add another $10 million to its running tally for a total of $50 million after three weeks of release. Assuming it can have any impact internationally, then it should reach profitability early in its home market run.

Moneyball might take a little longer to break even, but it will get there. This weekend it should earn close to $8 million, giving it nearly $50 million after three weeks of release. The baseball angle will likely limit its potential internationally, but the studio should be happy with the results so far.

The Lion King could round out the top five with just under $6 million, but Courageous is on track to earn a nearly identical result, so there could be a close battle for fifth place.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, The Lion King, Dolphin Tale, Real Steel, Moneyball, Courageous, The Ides of March