September 24, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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With early studio projections all over the map, it looks like it could be a long weekend of jockeying for the top spot.  Right now, it looks like Lion King in 3D will be number #1 with over $23 million.  Moneyball, written by Aaron Sorkin and best on the Michael Lewis bestseller, is flirting with $20 million, but strong word of mouth could push it up higher toward the last half of the weekend.  Dolphin Tale, a very well reviewed family film, is close to $18 million, but again it could surge based on positive word of mouth.  Audiences, in contrast, were not really in the mood for action and violence starring Twilight’s Taylor Lautner or Jason Statham & Robert De Niro.  Business is brisk for late September:  the top 12 films should hit $107 million (or more), up a very good 18% over the same weekend last year.
Moneyball is opening slightly above forecast ($6.75 million Friday for an expected $19.5 million this weekend versus an $18 million forecast). The Brad Pitt film based on Michael Lewis’s best-selling book is headed for $70 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 are broadly enthisiastic about the film (94% positive at RottenTomatoes) so we could some adjustments upward in the final gross in the next few weeks if the word of mouth is especially positive. 

Dolphin Tale is also opening somewhat above forecast ($5.11 million Friday for an estimated $17.5 million opening weekend, compared to an $15 million prediction).  The film is on track for $80 million in North America, thanks to the long playability of family films.  Critics nationwide also have been positive (83% positive at RottenTomatoes). 

Abduction is opening below forecast ($3.80 million Friday for an expected $10.2 million this weekend versus a $13 million forecast).  The movie is headed for $23 million in North America.  Critics nationwide have been nearly universally negative about this Taylor Lautner vehicle (a meager 4% positive so far).       

Killer Elite is also opening at forecast ($3.50 million Friday for an expected $10.8 million this weekend versus a $10 million forecast).  The movie is headed for $28 million in North America.  Critics have been negative for this Jasan Statham-Clive Owen-Robert De Niro action film (23% positive so far).      

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

Lion King in 3D continues to roll, down only 24% in its second weekend and beating its forecast.  Right now, it looks to be #1 for the weekend, but either Moneyball or Dolphin Tale could still challenge it for the top spot so keep checking for updates. 
September 23-25, 2011   Pre-Wknd    Wknd            Showbuzz
(millions)              Showbuzz    Early   Friday  Domestic
                        Forecast    Proj.   Actual   Final*

Lion King in 3D (Dis)    [$19.5]    $23.0   $ 6.1     $128+
Moneyball (Sony)         [$18  ]    $19.5   $ 6.8     $ 70
Dolphin Tale (WB)        [$15  ]    $17.5   $ 5.1     $ 80
Abduction (LG)           [$13  ]    $10.2   $ 3.8     $ 23
Killer Elite (OpenRoad)  [$10  ]    $10.8   $ 3.5     $ 28
Contagion (WB)           [$ 9  ]    $ 8.5   $ 2.6     $ 82
Drive (FilmDis)          [$ 6.5]    $ 6.0   $ 1.9     $ 40

The Help (DW/Dis)        [$ 5  ]    $ 4.5   $ 1.3     $168
Straw Dogs (Sony)        [$ 2.5]    $ 2.1   $ 0.7     $ 12
I Don’t Know How (Wein)  [$ 2  ]    $ 2.2   $ 0.7     $ 10

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. 

Total Box Office Volume

The Top 12 Films this weekend are looking like $107 million total, up 18% from the same calendar weekend last year when Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Legends of the Guardians opened.   

Top 12 Films: Weekend #38
     Volume     (millions)

2011  $107  (
+27% vs 2007-10 average; +18% vs 2010) 

Avg   $ 84            Movies Opening That Weekend
2010  $ 91  Wall Street 2 $19, Legends of the Guardians $16    

2009  $ 83  Surrogates $15, Fame $10, Pandorum $4
2008  $ 88  Eagle Eye $29, Nights in Rodanthe $13, Fireproof $7
2007  $ 76  Game Plan $23, The Kingdom $17


Next WeekendOpening next week are What’s Your Number? from Fox (Anna Faris comedy), Dream House from Universal (Daniel Craig thriller), 50/50 from Summit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Seth Rogen comedy/drama), and Courageous from Sony (Christian drama).  Those movies will be compared to The Social Network ($22 million in its first wide-release weekend), Case 39 ($5.4 million), and Let Me In ($5.1 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.