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Weekend Predictions: Not the Best New Releases

March 5th, 2015

Chappie poster

March begins with three wide releases. Or to be more accurate, two wide releases and a semi-wide release. Unfortunately, both wide releases are being attacked by critics. Chappie is being called a smart idea with a dumb execution. Unfinished Business is earning some of the worst reviews of the year and its buzz is really not much better than its reviews. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is earning good reviews, but its theater count is low enough that it might not reach the top five. This weekend last year, there were two $100 million hits that debuted, 300: Rise of an Empire and Mr. Peabody and Sherman. None of the three wide releases this week will get to $100 million in total. In fact, all three films combined likely won't open with as much as 300: Rise of an Empire did. It looks like 2015 will lose in the year-over-year comparison in a significant way.

Chappie is Neill Blomkamp's third film. His first film, District 9, was nearly universally praised. His second, Elysium, wasn't as strong, but it still earned overall positive reviews. I was really expecting this film to bounce back in terms of quality, but that was not the case. Its reviews are just 32% positive, which is bad, even for a mindless action film. For a film that was trying to make a statement on some intellectual topics, this is really bad news. As a result, the buzz has softened and not everyone thinks it will top $20 million over the weekend. At the beginning of the month, I thought the film had a real shot at $30 million, but now $21 million might be as good as it will get.

Unfinished Business has seen a doubling in the number of its positive reviews since I started writing this column. It now has two! The buzz hasn't gotten better and it is only a coin-toss to reach $10 million over the weekend. On the positive side, it would only need $10 million to earn second place, because there's really no competition this weekend. I'm going with an opening of $11 million, but a quick exit from theaters after that.

Focus will fall 50% during its sophomore stint, more or less, giving it just over $9 million over the next three days and a running tally of $34 million. This isn't terrible for this time of year, but the film cost $65 million to make, so it will need a lot of help to break even any time soon.

I think The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel will open in fourth place with $8 million. It is earning reviews that are in the overall positive range, which is Oscar-worthy when compared to the other two wide releases this week. On the downside, the film is aimed at a more mature target demographic and this group rarely rushes out to see a film on opening weekend. An $8 million debut could give it a per theater average of more than $5,000, which means theater owners won't be quick to drop it, so its legs should be reasonably long. On the other hand, it could open below $7 million, which would leave the film outside of the top five.

Kingsman: The Secret Service and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water should be in a close race with just over $7 million each. This would push Kingsman very close to $100 million, while SpongeBob will be nearly at $150 million. In both cases, they have done well enough to justify a sequel.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Chappie, Unfinished Business, Focus, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Neill Blomkamp