August 27, 2011



As Hurricane Irene marches up the East Coast from North Carolina to Boston this weekend, the full impact on the weekend box office remains unclear, but there will be a significant impact.  News reports say that 65 million Americans will be touched by the storm (about 20% of the population), and many theaters will be closed as a precaution Saturday night.  The weekend Top 12 films looks like it will be down 25% from last year to a very weak $71 million (lower than the horrific same weekend in 2008 which suffered from completely horrible movie quality — not too different than this weekend when you think about it).  The Help remains the #1 movie in theaters, and Colombiana has a chance of hitting its modest forecast, while the other openers are being hammered.  

Colombiana is probably opening at forecast ($3.7 million Friday for an expected $10 million this weekend versus a $10 million forecast).  The Zoe Saldana action film is headed for $28 million in North America.  Critics nationwide are generally negative about the film (only 33% positive at RottenTomatoes).  Read Mitch Salem’s review.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark should open below forecast ($3.6 million Friday for an estimated $9 million opening weekend, compared to an $11.5 million prediction).  The horror film is on track for $24 million in North America when it crosses the finish line, according to the ShowBuzzDaily Domestic Final estimate.  International numbers will be in our overseas round-up late Sunday.  Critics nationwide have been unusually positive about the film (58% positive at RottenTomatoes, strong for a horror film).  Read Mitch Salem’s review here.

Our Idiot Brother is also opening well below forecast ($2.3 million Friday for an expected $6.5 million this weekend versus a $9.5 million forecast).  The Paul Rudd comedy is headed for $24 million in North America.  Critics remain broadly positive (66% positive at RottenTomatoes) — it might enjoy a decent second weekend, but with this starting point it is still toast.  Read Mitch Salem’s review.      

In case you missed them, click to see this week’s Weekend Predictions.     

The Help continues its very solid run with a third weekend drop of only 28%, while Conan the Barbarian utterly collapsed in its second weekend, falling 72%Also in weekend two, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World should fall 57% and Fright Night should fall 64%
August 26-28, 2011      Pre-Wknd    Wknd            Showbuzz
(millions)              Showbuzz    Early   Friday  Domestic
                        Forecast    Proj.   Actual   Final*

The Help (DW/Dis)        [$15.5]    $14.5   $ 4.4     $143+
Colombiana (Sony)        [$10  ]    $10.0   $ 3.7     $ 28 
Don’t Be Afraid Dark (FD)[$11.5]    $ 9.0   $ 3.6     $ 24
Rise of Planet Apes (Fox)[$ 9  ]    $ 8.3   $ 2.6     $175
Our Idiot Brother (Wein) [$ 9.5]    $ 6.5   $ 2.3     $ 24
Spy Kids All Time (Wein) [$ 6.5]    $ 5.0   $ 1.6     $ 29
The Smurfs (Sony)        [$ 5  ]    $ 4.2   $ 1.2     $139
Fright Night (DW/Dis)    [$ 4  ]    $ 2.9   $ 1.0     $ 19-
Conan the Barbarian (LG) [$ 4.5]    $ 2.8   $ 0.9     $ 18-
Final Destination 5 (WB) [$ 3.5]    $ 2.5   $ 0.8     $ 44
Note: The table above summarizes an early look at the weekend.  The first column is a reminder of each film’s ShowBuzzDaily Forecast for the weekend (in brackets).  The second column, on which the films are sorted, displays the new weekend projection for each film, based on the Friday numbers (the third column).  The final column is a preliminary estimate of the ShowbuzzDaily Domestic Total number for the film’s total run in North America.  A “++” indicates the Domestic number has been upgraded; a “–” indicates a downgrade. 

Limited Releases 

Opening this weekend on the indie circuit (partial results):

Higher Ground (drama) should average $13,700 at 3 theaters
Brighton Rock (period drama) should average $3,135 at 11 theaters
— Redemption Road (drama) should average a woeful $791 at 26 theaters
Suing the Devil (comedy/drama) at 14 theaters
Chasing Madoff (documentary) at 9 theaters
(drama) at 7 theaters
— Buzzkill (comedy) at 1 theater

Total Box Office Volume

The Top 12 Films this weekend are looking like $71 million total, down 25% from the same calendar weekend last year when Takers, The Last Exorcism and Avatar: Special Edition opened.  

 Top 12 Films: Weekend #34
     Volume     (millions)
2011  $ 71  (
-24% vs 2007-10 average; -25% vs 2010) 

Avg   $ 94
            Movies Opening That Weekend
2010  $ 95  Takers $20, Last Exorcism $20, Avatar: Special $4    

2009  $110  Final Destination $27, Halloween 2 $16
2008  $ 74  Babylon AD $9, Traitor $8, Disaster Movie $6
2007  $ 97  Halloween $26, Balls of Fury $11, Death Sentence $4

Next Weekend

Opening next week are Apollo 18 from Weinstein, Shark Night 3D from Relativity, and The Debt from Focus (on Wednesday).  Those movies will be compared to The American ($13 million opening weekend), Machete ($11 million) and Going the Distance ($7 million).  

Look for updates of the weekend box office on Sunday, based on the Saturday actual numbers.

About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.