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Weekend Predictions: Three Reasons to Give Thanks

November 23rd, 2011

It's the Thanksgiving long weekend and that means families should be flooding theaters. Fortunately, there's plenty of choices, as there are three family films opening tonight: The Muppets, Arthur Chrstmas, and Hugo. Unfortunately, this direct competition will likely mean one or two of them won't be able to match their box office potential and the studio will end up disappointed. Also, it will be nearly impossible for any of them to top The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 over the weekend. This weekend last year, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 was the number one film, but Tangled came very, very close to overtaking it as both films came within $2 million of $50 million. I don't think any film will do that well this year, so we will likely see a sharp decline on the year-over-year comparison.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 already has $159 million after just five days of release, and while there are three new films hoping to grab some of the film's box office dollars, it would take an epic collapse for the film to not repeat as the box office champion. It is possible. New Moon was the last film in the franchise to open this time of year and during its sophomore stint, it fell just shy of 70%. That could happen again this time, especially when you look at the film's reviews. I think it will about that fate, but not by a lot. Look for $43 million over the three-day weekend and $65 million over the next five days.

A lot of people were worried that the re-launch of these beloved characters was a mistake. However, after numerous very funny parody trailers, hype for The Muppets grew substantially. Now that its reviews are out, it is clear it wasn't just hype. This movie could earn an Oscar for Best Picture that's how good the reviews are. It is also the new film with the most buzz and the only new release with even a remote shot at first place. It is unlikely, as Breaking Dawn, Part 1 will likely earn more over three days than this film does over five. But I'm hopeful for unexpected success. Expected success would be just under $30 million over the weekend and just over $40 million including Wednesday and Thursday.

The holidays should help Happy Feet 2, as there will be an abundance of family looking for entertainment. Unfortunately, there's too much direct competition and its reviews were disappointing. It might fall to fourth place with $15 million / $23 million over the weekend, but third place with $18 million / $26 million is more likely.

The wide release with the weakest review is Arthur Chrstmas; however, this film is earning 93% positive reviews, which could be enough to secure an Oscar nod for Best Feature-Length Animated Film. If it had the weekend all to itself, it could make $40 million. As it is, half that is unlikely. I'm going with $16 million over the three-day weekend and $24 million over five. Hopefully with word-of-mouth help, the film will last well into the holiday season and it might have the legs to get to $100 million, but it is a long shot.

The final wide release of the week is Hugo, which is the biggest wild card of the weekend. On the plus side, its reviews are among the best of the year and it is serious contender for Oscar glory. On the other hand, it is Martin Scorsese's first family film and his first 3-D film. Finally, it is the smallest of the four family films playing wide at the moment, opening in just 1200 theaters, which doesn't suggest a huge amount of studio support. On the high end, the film could make $12 million / $17 million, but $8 million / $12 million is more likely. It deserves better.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Hugo, Happy Feet Two, Arthur Christmas, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1, The Muppets