January 19, 2012


>The third weekend of the year should generate about $114 million for the top 12 films.  This would be a marked improvement from last year’s very weak comparable weekend, but in line with most other years for this weekend.  Underworld Awakening should open at #1 with $25+ million, but don’t look for this installment in the series to have real staying power in subsequent weeks.           

Opening at over 2,900 theaters, Underworld Awakening from Sony should average a solid $8,800 per theater (for $25.5 million Friday-Sunday).  [The average wide-release film the past two years has had an opening three-day weekend of $5,525 per theater.]  Very few reviews are posted for this film on RottenTomatoes, not nearly enough to summarize critical sentiment.  Underworld Awakening is on track for a preliminary $63 million domestically.  The previous domestic grosses for films in this series: Underworld $51.9 million (9.19.2003), Underworld: Evolution $62.3 million (1.20.2006), Underworld: Rise of the Lycans $45.8 million (1.23.2009).      

Opening in about 2,500 theaters, Red Tails from 20th Century Fox should average about $5,900 per theater ($14.5 million Friday-Sunday). The WW II action drama about the Tuskegee Airmen should gross about $38 million domestically.

Expanding to over 2,500 theaters, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close from Warner Brothers should average about $5,000 per theater ($12.5 million from Friday-Sunday).  Critics are surprisingly split over the latest from Stephen Daldry (director of The Reader, The Hours and Billy Elliot): only 49% positive at RottenTomatoes.  The drama should be on track for a final tally of $38 million domestic.

Opening at around 2,000 theaters, Haywire should average only $4,000 per theater ($8.0 million Friday-Sunday).  Despite very supportive reviews (85% positive), the action film from director Stephen Soderbergh should play to a fairly limited audience.  Total domestic gross should be around $32 million.   

New Films                        Critics    Opening  Domestic
January 20-22                    Positive   Weekend   Total*

Underworld Awakening     Sony R     n/a      $25.5     $ 63 
Red Tails                Fox  PG13  n/a      $14.5     $ 38
Extremely Loud & Incred. WB   PG13  49%      $12.5     $ 38 
Haywire                  Rel  R     85%      $ 8.0     $ 32

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 typical drops are in store for most holdovers (in the -45% to -50% range).   

Major Returning Films            Change     This    Domestic
January 20-22                   vs wknd 1  Weekend   Total*

Contraband              Uni       -50%      $12.0     $ 71
Beauty & Beast 3D       Dis       -42%      $10.5     $ 84
Mission: Impossible 4   Par       -41%      $ 7.0     $223
Joyful Noise             WB       -40%      $ 6.5     $ 32
Sherlock Holmes 2        WB       -44%      $ 5.0     $190 
Iron Lady              Wein       -21%      $ 4.5     $ 20

Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in the comparable weekend have averaged $116 million total, ranking 28th of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $89 million, and the same weekend in 2010 was $128 million.  This Friday-Sunday is looking like a decent $114 million, up 28% from this weekend last year but about the same as (down 2%) an “average” comparable weekend.          

This Weekend Last Two Years

 No Strings Attached PAR R Ashton Kutcher Natalie Portman 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $20  Actual: $20
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $74  Actual: $71
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $77
 The Tooth Fairy FOX PG The Rock Ashley Judd 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $17  Actual: $14
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $46  Actual: $60
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $52
 Legion SONY R Paul Bettany Lucas Black 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $14  Actual: $18
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $41  Actual: $40
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $28
 Extraordinary Measures CBS PG Harrison Ford Brendan Fraser 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $8  Actual: $6
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $14  Actual: $12
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $3

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.