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Looking for a Picture Perfect Start

February 18th, 2010

There's only one wide release opening this week, Shutter Island, which should help that film maximize its box office potential. However, there's little hope it will match last year's number one film, Madea Goes to Jail. Hopefully the post-holiday weekend won't be too hard on the holdovers and 2010 can add another win over last year. Perhaps it can even lift ticket sales over last year's pace.

When Shutter Island was pushed back from November to a February release, few people thought that was a good sign. When Paramount said they did that because they wanted to be able to promote it properly and didn't have the resources to do so at the time, it smelled a little fishy. What? Paramount doesn't have $40 million they can spend on ads? If not, they have far more serious problems to deal with than release schedules. When reviews started to roll in, they were amazing, at more than 80% positive. However, they have since slipped back to 64% positive, which is still very good, especially for this time of year, and shouldn't hurt the film at the box office. (On the other hand, perhaps it was a wise move to shuffle it out of the middle of Awards Season.) With no other new films opening this weekend, it should have little trouble reaching the top of the chart. Look for an opening weekend in the low 30s, say $32 million, and as long as moviegoers like it as much as the average critic, it could make it all the way to $100 million.

Valentine's Day will likely see a massive drop-off this weekend, especially when compared to the genre average. This is partially because of its terrible reviews, but also because this is a post-holiday and post-Valentine's Day weekend. A 60% drop-off is not out of the question, while a mere 50% drop-off might be too much to hope for. Splitting the difference and we get $25 million over the weekend and $95 million after two. It will become the first $100 million hit of 2010; it's just a matter of time.

The post-holiday weekend should also hurt Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, but thanks to its target audience and its reviews it won't be as bad as the previous film. Consensus seems to have the film earning $18 million over the weekend, which might be enough for third place. With just over $61 million after two weeks of release, it could be able to reach $100 million in total, but it will be awfully close.

Avatar should be right behind with $17 million over the weekend for a total of $688 million. This will put it about a week away from becoming the first film to reach $700 million domestically. If it becomes the big winner on Oscar night, it could reach $800 million, while if it only manages some technical awards, $750 million is likely.

Direct competition, soft reviews, and post-holiday weekend all spell bad news for The Wolf Man. A 60% drop-off would not be too surprising, and even if it manages to avoid that fate, it will struggle to earn more than $14 million over the weekend. That will still be enough for a safe fifth place finish and lift its running tally to close to $55 million. That said, this was a very expensive movie to make, so this is not nearly enough to suggest it will be profitable any time soon.


Filed under: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Shutter Island, The Wolfman, Valentine's Day, Avatar