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Iron Bound Record Book

May 6th, 2010

Summer has finally begun. It feels a week late because May 1st fell on a Saturday. However, the wait could be worth it, as a number of analysts are expecting a record-breaking performance by Iron Man 2 over the weekend. The movie has no competition at the box office. There's not even competition when compared to last year, as practically everyone thinks it will open with much more than Star Trek. For that matter, most think it will easily top Iron Man's opening weekend and perhaps even break records.

Buzz for Iron Man 2 has been huge since the first teaser trailer appeared. The first film was on the of the best-reviewed wide releases of 2008 and it earned a reported $102 million during its opening weekend. (I saw "reported", because this includes a number of 8 p.m. showings on Thursday, which the studio lumped in with the weekend number.) At the time, its opening was a lot higher than expected. This time around, most analysts are expecting huge numbers. The studio pegs expectations at $125 - $135 million, but they have a vested interest in keeping expectations low. Beating expectations is almost as important as the raw dollar figure. On the high end, some are predicting $165 million during the film's opening weekend, maybe more. This would be significantly more than The Dark Knight made during its opening weekend, which is a little more than I'm willing to predict. Had the film's reviews been close to the level earned by the original, I would agree with it. But at the moment, its Tomatometer Score is 68% positive. That's excellent for a wide release but weak enough that more than a few people will hold off on seeing the movie during its opening weekend. Even so, the film will likely top the high end of studio's predictions with just over $140 million. Look for a dead heat with New Moon's debut, but much better legs. I say $375 million in total.

The rest of the top five is almost immaterial, but second place should go to A Nightmare on Elm Street. Terrible reviews, incredible competition, the recent history of horror remakes, etc. all suggest a sharp drop-off this weekend. If it fell 60% over the weekend, it would be considered a success. On the other hand, if it fell 80%, it would not be considered a major shock. It might get lucky and reach $11 million, but just over $10 million is more likely. This will give it about $50 million after ten days of release, which means it is on pace to earn a profit late in its international run, or more likely, early in its home market run. I don't expect a sequel will be made.

If A Nightmare on Elm Street were to completely collapse, How to Train Your Dragon might have a chance at second place with $7 million, or so. It will very likely have to settle for third place. As a consolation prize, it should make just enough to reach $200 million at the end of Sunday. It is safe to say the studio is happy with this result.

Last weekend Date Night topped The Back-up Plan in a close battle for third place. This weekend will be the same, except they will be fighting for fourth place. Both should earn between $4 and $5 million with Date Night having a slight edge, earning closer to $5 million over the weekend and lifting its running tally to $80 million. For this type of film, this is a solid hit and assuming it is at least a moderate hit on the home market, it will show a profit sooner rather than later. As for The Back-up Plan, just over $4 million over the weekend will give the film a total of just under $30 million. That's hardly a major hit, but it is closing in on its production budget, so it could earn a profit some time during its home market run.

The final new release with a shot at the top ten is Babies, which is a documentary about ... babies. Maybe I should have had a spoiler alert there. The film is opening in nearly 600 theaters, but with a Tomatometer score that is barely higher than the one earned by Iron Man 2, I'm not overly bullish by the film's chances. That said, it should only need about $2 million to earn a spot in the top 10, while $3 million is a relatively safe target.


Filed under: Date Night, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Back-up Plan, How to Train Your Dragon, Iron Man 2, Babies