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Weekend Predictions: Is Pixels Poised to Top the Weekend Chart?

July 24th, 2015


Pixels leads a group of three wide releases looking to battle for limited box office dollars. It appears to be on track for first place, but with not as much as I anticipated at the beginning of the month. This is partially explained by its reviews which are lower than the 30% to 40% positive range I was anticipating. Paper Towns is earning much better reviews, but still barely above the overall positive level. Finally there's Southpaw, which is earning mixed reviews and its buzz is weak, so it will likely be outside the top five over the weekend. Both Ant-Man and Minions should continue to perform well, with the former having a shot at first place, if Pixels flops. This weekend last year, there were two wide releases that did quite well, Lucy and Hercules. I don't think any of the new releases this week will come close to earning the same as Lucy did, but I think the depth is better this year, so 2015 will still come out ahead in the year-over-year comparison.

Pixels is the latest film for Adam Sandler, who, despite his critical woes, has remained a strong box office star. More importantly, it is the last film in the eight-film deal he had with Sony and he already has a deal with Netflix. This could result in a really poor performance at the box office, as neither Sony nor Adam Sandler need this movie to do well. In fact, if it bombs, Sony could be happy that they are no longer saddled with Adam Sandler, but if it is a huge hit, his loss would hurt the company. Additionally, the reviews are really bad, although not as bad as they once were. Earlier this week, the film's Tomatometer Score was in single-digits. (On a related note... Some of you have have likely seen MovieBob's NSFW review, which has gone viral. If you haven't seen it and are not adverse to a little swearing... a lot of swearing, then check it out.) A lot of analysts have it earning close to $40 million this weekend, but I think that might be a little too optimistic. I'm going with $35 million, which is still a relatively good debut. I doubt it will be a monster hit, but it should do well enough to break-even, eventually.

Ant-Man should come in second place with $28 million over the weekend. This is a little more than a 50% drop-off, which is better than average for a summer blockbuster film. There are reasons for me to be this optimistic. Its reviews are 79% positive, which is better than any of the new wide releases coming out this week. Also, the closest there is to direct competition is Pixels and that movie isn't as strong as expected. Even if it misses this mark, it will still cross $100 million over the weekend, making it the 12th Marvel Cinematic Universe film in a row to reach that mark. That's impressive. That's beyond impressive. It's unprecedented.

Paper Towns is opening in just over 3,000 theaters and many analysts think its per theater average will be close to $10,000, giving it a $30 million opening. There are some reasons to be this optimistic, including John Green. His previous film, The Fault in Our Stars, opened with $26 million during its opening day. On the other hand, it was so front-loaded that it made less than that the rest of the weekend for a still fabulous opening of $48 million. This film's reviews are still good, but a drop from what the previous film's reviews were, plus there isn't as much pent-up demand for a John Green film. We do have some international numbers we can look at. The film earned $1.41 million during its opening in Australia, which was only good enough for fourth place. It is also less than half of what The Fault in Our Stars opened with, which could be an omen that Paper Towns will only open with $20 million here. Then again, that is likely more than it cost to make, so that's hardly a terrible start. I think it will top that number and earn $25 million over the weekend, which is a healthy start.

Normally I would expect a film like Minions to have a soft decline this weekend. After all, it is a family film with no direct competition. Unfortunately, last weekend, it fell 57% to $49 million. This weekend, it likely won't fall as fast, but it could still fall close to 50% to just under $25 million. That would still push its running tally past $250 million and keep it on pace to surpass $300 million with relative ease.

Trainwreck should round out the top five with close to $18 million. That represents barely a 40% drop-off during its second weekend of release and that's really good for a sophomore weekend. There are reasons to be bullish, starting with its overwhelmingly positive reviews. Additionally, films with a female-centric target audience tend to have better legs. For instance, Spy fell just 46% during its sophomore stint, despite dealing with record-breaking competition. If it can pull in $18 million over the weekend, it will have a running tally of $62 million and will be on pace to earn $100 million overall. Even if it fell to $16, I would still say it had a shot at $100 million domestically.

The final new release of the week is Southpaw, a boxing / single parent drama that feels like it should be aiming for Oscars. However, its reviews are below the overall positive level. This is bad, because its more mature target demographic is more likely to read and trust reviews. On the other hand, Jake Gyllenhaal is coming off an Oscar-nominated performance in Nightcrawler, so that should help a little bit. I don't think it has a real shot at landing in the top five, but sixth place with $13 million should be obtainable.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Jurassic World, Ant-Man, Pixels, Minions, Spy!, Paper Towns, Trainwreck, Southpaw, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jake Gyllenhaal, Adam Sandler, John Green