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The Beginning of the Voyage

December 9th, 2010

It could be a strong weekend at the box office with two wide releases, both with the potential of earning more than $100 million, perhaps a lot more in one case. This is great news for 2010, as this week last year was not strong. Both Dawn Treader and The Tourist should open with more than The Princess and the Frog did during its debut in wide release, although it could be close for the latter. Combined the two films could make more than the top five did last year. If so, 2010 should win big over 2009, but it will be the last win for 2010, and it still might not be enough to maintain its lead over 2009 in the end.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a bit of a risk for Fox, as they picked up the franchise after Disney dropped it. Should the move prove to be a mistake, it will be rather hard to justify; after all, it's not like they did not know there was a massive drop-off in box office numbers from the first to the second film. Additionally, they really need the victory, as they haven't had a single $100 million hit all year (not counting Avatar, which earned $400 million during 2010). This could be a blessing for the film, as the studio will likely push it hard. On the other hand, it might not be enough in the long run. Reviews have gone from good at the beginning of the week, to average, to a little on the weak side. If the film's box office numbers mirror the franchise's slide with critics, we are in real trouble. That's the worst case scenario, but even the best case scenario has it opening with less than either of the previous two films. Most likely, it opens with $42 million over the weekend, but thanks to the holidays, its has better legs than Prince Caspian and earns roughly the same at the box office.

Johnny Depp has been nominated for three Oscars, Angelina Jolie won once and was nominated a second time, and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck won for his previous film. (Technically the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year is awarded to the country, not any individual, but I think it is safe to say the director is the winner in this case.) Combining their talents should result in something special. The Tourist is anything but special. I have to say, I did not see that coming. Under 20% positive? The question is, how long can the star power keep the film going before its word-of-mouth can kill it? I'm hoping at least a full weekend. If so, it might come close to $30 million. If not, it might not reach $20 million. I'm going with $25 million, but don't look for the same December legs one normally sees.

Tangled crossed $100 million on Thursday, the 16th day of its release, and it is looking to add another $13 million or so over the weekend. This will keep it on pace for $150 million in total, which is in line with reports on the film's production budget. If these reports are true, Disney spent $100 million on a movie that they scrapped before starting over. If this movie can make $400 to $500 million worldwide, then it will have been a wise decision, at least that will be my opinion.

It will be the last weekend in the top five for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, as next weekend three wide releases will be fighting to kick it out. It should add another $8 million, which means it will hit $250 million on Friday and about $257 million in total. That puts it ahead of Prisoner of Azkaban and just behind Chamber of Secrets. It is also still running ahead of Goblet of Fire's running tally, but I'm not sure how long that will last. It depends on how well its competition does, I suppose.

There will likely be a close three way race for fifth place between Unstoppable, Burlesque, and Love and Other Drugs, all of which should pull in $3 to $4 million. There is also a dark horse, in the form of Black Swan, which is expanding into dozens of new cities this Friday. It might be enough to score fifth place with $4 million, but 8th place with $3 million is more likely.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Tangled, Burlesque, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Unstoppable, Love and Other Drugs, Black Swan, The Tourist