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Weekend Predictions: Will it be Smurfs and the New Releases Get Lost in the Crowd?

April 6th, 2017

Smurfs: The Lost Village

It is the first weekend of April and there are two and a half films opening wide this week. The widest of these is Smurfs: The Lost Village, but direct competition is going to hurt it at the box office. Going in Style is aiming to be a sleeper hit, but its reviews will likely get in the way of that. Meanwhile, The Case for Christ is opening in barely more than 1,000 theaters and it is aiming for the churchgoing crowd and no one else. On the positive side, it is Easter next weekend, so it should have good legs. Unfortunately for the new releases, it looks like The Boss Baby will have a relatively easy time repeating in first place, while Beauty and the Beast will be close behind in second. This weekend last year, The Boss opened in first place with $23.59 million, while Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was right behind with $23.36 million. This week we should have at least two films top that, perhaps even three if Smurfs: The Lost Village is on the high end of expectations. 2017 should continue to add to its lead over 2016.

The Boss Baby was surprisingly potent at the box office last weekend and even though its reviews are mixed, there are reasons to be optimistic about its chances. Firstly, it is a family film and those tend to have better legs than most. Secondly, it did earn an A minus from CinemaScore. On the other hand, there is direct competition opening this week. A 50% drop-off is possible, but I think it will avoid that fate with $27 million over the weekend. This will push its running tally to close to $90 million and it will top $100 million before Easter weekend.

Beauty and the Beast should be right behind with $24 million. The film became the 25th film to reach $400 million on Tuesday. Disney family films tend to have long trailing legs. For example, The Jungle Book earned nearly $15 million after falling out of the top ten. If Beauty and the Beast had a similar run, it will get past $500 million domestically.

I’m of two minds when it comes to Smurfs: The Lost Village. On the one hand, making a digitally animated movie about the Smurfs makes a whole lot more sense than making a live action movie, which is what they tried previously. Because of this, it should be a bigger hit than the previous installments. Also, while its reviews are not good, they are an improvement on the previous Smurf films. On the other hand, the release date is not good at all, as there’s direct competition that beat expectations last weekend and the demand for a family film is rather low as a result. Furthermore, the film’s initial push into international markets was not good. Back to the original hand, next week is Easter, so it could have good legs. On the high end, the film could battle for first place with $25 million or so. On the low end, it could struggle to reach the midteens. I’m going with $18 million over the weekend, which is a little bit better than The Smurfs 2, but not enough to justify another sequel, not unless merchandise sales are spectacular.

Going in Style was never expected to be a monster hit; even becoming a midlevel hit was going to be difficult. However, I was expecting better reviews than 35% positive. This is doubly bad, as the film’s target audience is more likely to read and trust reviews. Its box office potential has gone from an opening of $13 million to $14 million to an opening of $10 million, more or less. That’s not a disaster for a film with a modest production budget, but it is not a hit either.

Ghost in the Shell should round out the top five with between $7 million and $8 million. Worse still, its theater average is low enough that it will take a major hit when The Fate of the Furious opens next weekend.

The final new release of the week is The Case for Christ. Long-time readers know how much I hate faith-based films. These films are by far the most unpredictable films when it comes to box office potential. These films can become surprise midlevel hits or open below the Mendoza Line seemingly at random. They also tend to be not be screened for critics, which is another unpredictable factor. On the high end, the film could earn fourth place with $10 million. On the low end, the film could miss the Mendoza Line and open outside of the top ten. I’m going with $5 million, but I’m not confident in that prediction.

- Smurfs: The Lost Village Comparisons
- Going in Style Comparisons
- The Case for Christ Comparisons

Filed under: Weekend Preview, Smurfs: The Lost Village, The Boss Baby, Ghost in the Shell, Beauty and the Beast, Going in Style, The Case for Christ, The Smurfs
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