February 2, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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>The fifth weekend of the year should generate about $84 million for the top 12 films — up 15% from last year’s comparable weekend but down a similar percentage from a “normal” weekend this time of year.  Three new films open this weekend to positive reviews, but none of the three should gross more than $50 million over the long haul domestically.           

Opening at over 2,800 theaters, Chronicle from 20th Century Fox should average an okay $5,600 per theater (for $15.5 million Friday-Sunday).  [The average wide-release film the past two years has had an opening three-day weekend of $5,525 per theater.]  Critics on RottenTomatoes are so far very supportive of this “found footage” sci-fi thriller: 85% positive reviews.  Chronicle is on track for a preliminary $47 million domestically.        

Opening in about 2,700 theaters, the horror thriller The Woman in Black from CBS Films (starring Daniel Radcliffe) should average a similar $5,500 per theater ($15 million Friday-Sunday).  Critics have been supportive: 71% positive reviews so far, particularly good for a horror film.  The Woman in Black is headed for a total domestic gross of $43 million.

In over 1,900 theaters, animal lovers can look forward to the save-the-whale drama Big Miracle from Universal, which should average a soft $4,100 per theater ($8 million from Friday-Sunday).  Critical reviews are also running positive (71% positive so far), making it a rare weekend where three wide-release films are endorsed by the nation’s critics.  But good reviews don’t always translate to big openings:  Big Miracle is on track for a final tally of $29 million domestic.  The positive reviews, however, might indicate lower than average declines in weekends two and three. 

New Films                        Critics    Opening  Domestic
February 3-5                     Positive   Weekend   Total*

Chronicle                Fox  PG13  85%      $15.5     $ 47
The Woman in Black       CBS  PG13  71%      $15.0     $ 43
Big Miracle              Uni  PG    71%      $ 8.0     $ 29

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.

Fairly normal declines for the returning films, with Liam Neeson’s The Grey the only film with a shot for a weekend over $10 million.   

Major Returning Films            Change     This    Domestic
February 3-5                    vs wknd 1  Weekend   Total*

The Grey                 Open     -48%      $10.5     $ 63
One for the Money        LG       -48%      $ 6.0     $ 26
Underworld Awakening     Sony     -53%      $ 5.8     $ 70
Red Tails                Fox      -48%      $ 5.4     $ 57
Extremely Loud & Incred. WB       -39%      $ 4.3     $ 38
Man on a Ledge           Sum      -50%      $ 4.0     $ 21

Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in the comparable weekend have averaged $99 million total, ranking 41st of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $73 million, and the same weekend in 2010 was $100 million.  This Friday-Sunday is looking like a weak $84 million, up 15% from this weekend last year but down 14% from an “average” comparable weekend over the past four years.          

This Weekend Last Two Years

 The Roommate SONY PG13 Minka Kelly Leighton Meester 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $15  Actual: $15
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $39  Actual: $37
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $3
 Sanctum UNI R Ioan Gruffudd  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $11  Actual: $9
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $30  Actual: $23
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $56
 Dear John SONY PG13 Amanda Seyfried Channing Tatum 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $19  Actual: $30
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $89  Actual: $80
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $32
 From Paris with Love LG R John Travolta Jonathan Rhys Meyers 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $14  Actual: $8
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $29  Actual: $24
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $28
 Crazy Heart FOX R Jeff Bridges Colin Farrell 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $4  Actual: $4
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $34  Actual: $39
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $7

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, on Sunday we will have initial studio estimates (based on Friday and Saturday actuals), and Monday we will have the final weekend 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.