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Robin Hood Ready to Steal the Box Office Crown?

May 13th, 2010

The second weekend in May tends to be weak at the box office; for instance, it was the second weekend of May that saw the release of Speed Racer and Poseidon, just to name two recent examples. It is unlikely that Robin Hood will do that poorly at the box office; in fact, it might open with more than Speed Racer made in total. If it can, it will go a long way towards helping 2010 keep pace with last year. But even if it does, it will likely have to settle for second place.

It is very likely that Iron Man 2 will remain in top spot on weekend box office chart, assuming it doesn't completely evaporate or Robin Hood doesn't turn out to be a fantastic success. Even a 60% drop-off, which isn't out of the question, would leave the film with more than $50 million over the weekend and $200 million after two. Given its reviews, it should be able to avoid that fate, even with the Fanboy Effect and the Sequel Effect. Anything more than $60 million will make it relatively easy to overtake Alice in Wonderland for top grossing movies released this year, at least momentarily. That's probably a little too bullish, but $55 million is a very likely weekend number.

Many people are putting Robin Hood in the same general category as King Arthur and Braveheart, and to a lesser extent, Kingdom of Heaven and Troy. All four movies were expensive to make, but two were outright bombs, and the other two had to be saved by their international numbers. That doesn't bode well for this film. Additionally, its reviews are merely mixed, which could also spell trouble, depending on moviegoers' expectations. It is being described as a revisionist take on the tale that is less swashbuckling and more somber. It tries for historical accuracy that is closer to Braveheart than, say, Pirates of the Caribbean. But since its reviews are closer to those earned by King Arthur than those earned by Braveheart, this could be a huge mistake. Then again, the film does star Russell Crowe and it is directed by Ridley Scott, and the pair have had success together. On the very, very high end, the film could pull in $50 million and grab top spot. On the low end, it could finish with less than half that. I'm going with just over $35 million during its opening weekend, which would put it in the $10,000 club on the per theater chart. However, I don't think it will have the legs to reach $100 million, especially with Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, which is going after a similar target demographic, hot on its heels.

The next wide release of the week is Letters to Juliet starring Amanda Seyfried, who is contractually obligated to star in every single movie made this year. Actually, that's not quite accurate. She only has five films coming out this year. But that's an insane amount and each movie is simultaneously moving her toward breakout success and overexposure. Let's hope it's the former, because I think she's quite talented, even if her choice in film roles hasn't exactly been stellar since she burst out onto the scene in Mean Girls. This romantic comedy also stars Vanessa Redgrave, which should give it a cross-generational appeal, which in turn should help it score at the box office. Its reviews are not exactly good, but at 39% positive, but they are far from bad for the genre. When critics complain that a romantic comedy is predictable, it's not something that will dissuade the film's target demographic. That said, the film is playing the role of counter-programming and Robin Hood does have a romantic angle, so it might struggle to get noticed. On the high end, the film could pull in $25 million. On the low end, it could struggle to earn half of that. Unfortunately, the low end is more likely. Look for $15 million over the weekend. This is better than average for Summit and should be enough to make them happy.

The final wide release of the week is Just Wright, which is another romantic comedy. Compared to Letters to Juliet, this film is earning nearly identical reviews, while it has a more established star in Queen Latifah. It is aimed at a more niche market, which could explain why Searchlight is opening the film in less than 2,000 theaters. I think this last fact is the most troubling. For that matter, Searchlight isn't well known for wide releases to begin with, so I'm even more concerned. Perhaps the film has an ad campaign fit for a truly wide release, but there's also a chance that the studio is going to let it sink or swim on its own. That usually doesn't turn out so well. A decent per theater average should give the film about $9 million for the weekend, but it could make anywhere from $5 million to $15 million and I wouldn't be too surprised.

Look for A Nightmare on Elm Street and How to Train Your Dragon to battle for fifth place with between $4 and $5 million. It could be close enough that they switch places over the weekend, and they might switch again from Sunday's estimate to Monday's final report.


Filed under: A Nightmare on Elm Street, Letters to Juliet, How to Train Your Dragon, Robin Hood, Iron Man 2, Just Wright