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Weekend Predictions: Winter is Looking Frightful

December 8th, 2011

We could be in for a bad weekend. Then again, most weekends this year have been bad. Neither New Year's Eve nor The Sitter are winning over many critics, while their box office potential might be even lower than previously expected. The only good news is that this time last year wasn't a great weekend at the box office either and, if one new release can be a pleasant surprise, there's still a chance 2011 can pull out a win. However, there are not many reasons to feel optimistic at this point. On the one hand, there is a chance the extended box office slump is just the new norm and the two back-to-back years of $10 billion were a fluke. On the other hand, maybe there is a pent up demand and as soon as a the big releases come out next week, we will see an explosion at the box office. We will know more after next week.

Valentine's Day was a romantic comedy with a massive ensemble cast. It earned terrible reviews, but still manged to earn $56 million during its opening weekend and just over $110 million in total. It makes sense there would be a sequel of sorts, even though New Year's Eve isn't technically a sequel. I was expecting the film to earn better reviews, open with just over half as much, but have much better legs thanks to the holidays. Amazing / sadly, New Year's Eve's reviews are even worse. In fact, they are among the worst reviews of any film released this year. Its opening weekend box office numbers likely won't be damaged too much and there's still a chance it could earn $30 million or more. On the low end, it could struggle to top $20 million over the next three days. I'm going with just shy of $25 million, which might still be enough to earn $100 million, if the film can stick around till the new year.

The Sitter was earning quite a bit of buzz earlier when details were first coming out. However, that buzz has really evaporated lately and one look at the reviews explains what happened there. Its Tomatometer Score is just 20% positive, which suggests that even if you are a fan of Jonah Hill and this type of R-rated comedy, it is still not worth paying full price for. Best case scenario for the film is an opening in the high teens plus better than expected legs due to low direct competition for the rest of the year. Worst case scenario for the film is missing $10 million during its opening weekend and fading before the new year arrives. Most likely, it will earn $13 million over the weekend, which is not a great start, but not a disaster for this type of film.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 has already reached $250 million, which is more than enough to pay for its production budget, so anything it makes at this point is practically pure profit. (The exhibitors get their share first.) Earning just under $8 million this weekend should be a relatively easy task, even with its theater count falling. By next week it will lose a larger number of theaters to the new releases and by Christmas it might not be playing in enough theaters to earn much of a bump.

The Muppets earned 97% positive reviews and it still fell more than 60% during its sophomore stint. To quote the internet, "Son, I am disappointed." It should hold on better this weekend with just over $7 million, while at this pace it should break even early in its home market run, but it deserves a better fate than that.

Likewise, Hugo is not doing as well at the box office as it is performing with critics. It was also an incredibly expensive movie to make, so its financial future is less rosy. It is adding a few hundred more theaters this weekend and perhaps the word-of-mouth will help it climb higher up the chart, but fifth place with just under $7 million is probably as good as it will get.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Hugo, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1, New Year’s Eve, The Sitter, The Muppets