January 26, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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>The fourth weekend of the year should generate about $91 million for the top 12 films — about the same as last year’s comparable weekend and down 10% from a “normal” weekend this time of year.  The top film should be Liam Neeson in The Grey, at a very unspectacular $15 opening weekend number.           

Opening at over 3,000 theaters, The Grey from Open Road Films should average a mediocre $4,950 per theater (for $15 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 supportive: 78% 79% positive reviews.  The Grey is on track for a preliminary $50 million domestically.        

Opening in about 2,900 theaters, the thriller Man on a Ledge from Summit should average a weak $3,400 per theater ($10 million Friday-Sunday). Excoriated by critics so far (only 13% 17% positive reviews), Man on a Ledge is headed for a total domestic gross of $23 million.

In over 2,700 theaters, One for the Money from Lionsgate should average about $3,500 per theater ($9.5 million from Friday-Sunday).  No reviews yet — the film has been hidden from critics.  But it is sure to be dumped on (hey, it’s a Katherine Heigl film — now with action thrown in with the light comedy!).  The film is also on track for a final tally of $23 million domestic.

Expanding to almost 1,000 theaters, The Artist should average only $3,700 per theater ($3.7 million Friday-Sunday, bringing its total to date to $17 million on Sunday).  Despite nearly universal raves (97% positive) and what seems to be an inevitable Best Picture Oscar, The Artist should have relatively limited commercial appeal.  As ShowBuzzDaily’s Mitch Salem wrote back in September, “The Artist is a beautiful film hot-house flower, designed to flourish in the rarefied atmosphere of festivals and gatherings of cineastes. It’s a curio that will be cherished by some, and probably ignored by most of the masses.”  Total domestic gross should be around $39 million.   

New Films                        Critics    Opening  Domestic
January 27-29                    Positive   Weekend   Total*

The Grey                 Open R     79%      $15.0     $ 50
Man on a Ledge           Sum  PG13  17%      $10.0     $ 23
One for the Money        LG   PG13  n/a      $ 9.5     $ 23
The Artist               Wein PG13  97%      $ 3.7     $ 39

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.

Among the returning films this weekend, Underworld Awakening and Red Tails are the only significant players.   

Major Returning Films            Change     This    Domestic
January 27-29                   vs wknd 1  Weekend   Total*

Underworld Awakening     Sony     -55%      $11.5     $ 65 
Red Tails                Fox      -40%      $11.5     $ 52 
Extremely Loud & Incred. WB       -20%      $ 8.0     $ 31 
Contraband               Uni      -44%      $ 7.0     $ 75 
Beauty & Beast 3D        Dis      -42%      $ 5.0     $ 58 
Haywire                  Rel      -48%      $ 4.5     $ 26

Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in the comparable weekend have averaged $102 million total, ranking 39th of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $92 million, and the same weekend in 2010 was $110 million.  This Friday-Sunday is looking like a weak $91 million, down 1% from this weekend last year but down a more significant 10% from “average” comparable weekend over the past four years.          

This Weekend Last Two Years

 The Rite WB PG13 Anthony Hopkins  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $16  Actual: $15
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $31  Actual: $33
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $63
 The Mechanic CBS R Jason Statham Ben Foster 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $10  Actual: $11
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $32  Actual: $29
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $22
 Edge of Darkness WB R Mel Gibson  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $21  Actual: $17
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $45  Actual: $43
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $38
 When in Rome DIS PG13 Kristen Bell Josh Duhamel 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $10  Actual: $12
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $30  Actual: $33
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $10

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.