August 25, 2011


>Keep your helmets on: the studios are about to drop three more bombs in movie theaters this weekend.  A horror movie, an action flick and an adult comedy are being released, and we expect each to gross not much more than $30 million in their entire domestic theatrical run.  Opening weekends should range between $9-12 million.  That will leave #1 open again for The Help.  Much will be made in the press about The Help being #1 for two weeks after a #2 opening, but, really, the #1 ranking is more of a quirk of the calendar and the positively abysmal quality of the competing films.  Weekend ranking is about the least important statistic available.  Remember, Cowboys & Aliens opened at #1 — just ask anyone at Comcast/ Universal if they are happy with that film’s performance.  

Opening at more than 2,400 theaters in North America by FilmDistrict, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark should average a somewhat below par $4,750 per theater (for $11.5 million for Friday-Sunday).  With a small number of reviews posted at RottenTomatoes so far, critical opinion is mixed (56% positive, although not bad for the horror genre).  This film should be on track for around $30 million or less in North America when it leaves theaters.

At about 2,500 theaters, Colombiana from Sony/TriStar should average a crappy $3,900 (for $10 million this weekend).  No reviews yet for this movie, which has not been made available for critics.  This action film featuring Avatar’s Zoe Saldana is probably headed for around $30 million or slightly more domestically. 

Opening at only 2,000 theaters from Weinstein, Our Idiot Brother should average $4,730 from Friday-Sunday (for a $9.5 million opening weekend).  Early reviews have been fairly positive at RottenTomatoes (63% positive).  This movie is most likely on track for $25 million in North America.     

                                               (millions)New Films                        Critics    Opening  Domestic
August 26-28                     Positive   Weekend   Total*

Don’t Be Afraid Dark FilmDis R      56%      $ 11.5    $ 30
Colombiana             Sony  PG13   n/a      $ 10.0    $ 32
Our Idiot Brother      Wein  R      63%      $  9.5    $ 25

Note: Although critic reviews are not related to the size of the opening weekend, they are significantly correlated with the size of the declines in the opening weeks of a movie.
* The Domestic Total is a very early ShowBuzzDaily projection of the total North American gross, based on the Weekend Forecasts.

The Help should remain #1 thanks to another terrifically low 24% decline and, as noted before, very weak opening competition.  All of the other returning films should below $10 million each this weekend, causing total box office volume to be quite soft this weekend. 

Major Returning Films            Change     This    Domestic
August 26-28                    vs wknd 1  Weekend   Total*

The Help            DW/Dis        -24%      $15.5     $130
Rise of Planet of Apes Fox        -44%      $ 9       $180
Spy Kids: All Time    Wein        -43%      $ 6.5     $ 30

The Smurfs            Sony        -33%      $ 5       $145
Conan the Barbarian     LG        -56%      $ 4.5     $ 25
Fright Night        DW/Dis        -50%      $ 4.0     $ 25

Final Destination 5     WB        -52%      $ 3.5     $ 45

Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in the comparable weekend have averaged $94 million total, ranking 42nd of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $95 million, and the year before was $110 million.  This Friday-Sunday is looking like another down weekend at $86 million, down about 10% from this weekend last year.     

This Weekend Last Two Years

 The Last Exorcism LG PG13    
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $15  Actual: $20
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $49  Actual: $41
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $26
 Takers SONY PG13 Chris Brown Hayden Christensen  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $11  Actual: $21
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $60  Actual: $58
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $11
 Avatar: Special Edition FOX PG13 Sam Worthington Zoe Saldana  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $3  Actual: $4
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $17  Actual: $10
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $0
 The Final Destination WB R    
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $22  Actual: $27
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $73  Actual: $66
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $115
 Halloween 2 WEINS R    
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $17  Actual: $16
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $34  Actual: $33
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $5
 Taking Woodstock UNI R Emile Hirsch Imelda Staunton  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $4  Actual: $3
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $9  Actual: $7
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $2


Come back throughout the weekend to see how the movies actually perform.  Saturday morning we will have an early look at how the weekend is shaping up as a whole (based on Friday’s early numbers), on Sunday we will have initial studio estimates (based on Friday and Saturday), and Monday we will have the final numbers for the entire weekend.

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.