July 18, 2012

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS July 20-22: Dark Knight Rises Should Be #2 Opening of All Time

Weekend #29 of 2012 looks like what last weekend should have been: $272 million for the top 12 films, up 50% from last year’s comparable weekend and up 67% from the four-year average for the weekend.

Opening at 4,404 theaters, The Dark Knight Rises from Warner Brothers should average $43,600 per theater (for a $192 million opening weekend). [The average wide-release film the past two years has had an opening three-day weekend of $5,525 per theater.]  The early reviews at RottenTomatoes are currently running at a very good 86% positive.  Mitch Salem’s SHOWBUZZDAILY review of The Dark Knight Rises is here, with links to retrospective reviews of all the other films in the Batman series.  Dark Knight Rises stands at a preliminary $552 million ShowbuzzDaily domestic estimate.  We have the domestic gross for Rises slightly higher than 2008’s Dark Knight, while the opening weekend should be substantially higher, as we expect a very strong front-loading pattern.

The opening weekend record to beat belongs to Marvel’s The Avengers ($207.4 million back in early May).  If our forecast is right, Dark Knight Rises will rank second on the all-time opening weekend list, ahead of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($169.2 million) a year ago.

July 20-22, 2012 Critics Positive Opening Weekend Forecast Domestic Total Projection
The Dark Knight Rises
WB PG13 86% 192 552

And the following chart chronicles the two Batman franchise attempts by Warner Brothers.   The first started with some promise by Tim Burton (1989-1992) but then turned into a disaster and then catastrophe under Joel Schumacher (1995-1997).  The current attempt, of course, under Christopher Nolan has been a remarkable case study in success.

BATMAN TRACKWarner Brothers ($ millions)
Critics Positive Opening Weekend  Domestic Total  Overseas Total Worldwide Total
The Dark Knight
7.18.2008 94% 158.4 533.3 468.6 1,001.9
Batman Begins 6.15.2005 85% 48.7 205.3 167.4 372.7
Batman and Robin 6.20.1997 13% 42.9 107.3 130.9 238.2
Batman Forever 6.16.1995 43% 52.8 184.0 152.5 336.5
Batman Returns 6.19.1992 78% 45.7 162.8 104.0 266.8
Batman 6.23.1989 71% 40.5 251.2 160.1 411.3

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.


A few other movies will get some business, but the weekend really belong to the Dark Knight.

RETURNING FILMS ($ millions)
July 20-22, 2012 Change vs Last Weekend Weekend Forecast Showbuzz Domestic Final Proj.
Ice Age: Continental Drift Fox -47% 24.5 179
Amazing Spider-Man Sony -50% 17.2 300
Ted Uni -44% 12.6 225
Brave Dis -51% 5.5 235
Savages Uni -48% 4.9 56
Magic Mike WB -51% 4.5 118
TP’s Madea’s Witness Protection LG -51% 2.8 65
Moonrise Kingdom Foc Uni -42% 2.6 47
Madagascar 3 Par DW -45% 2.0 217


Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in this comparable weekend have averaged $163 million total, ranking 8th of 52 weeks. Last year (July 22-24) this weekend’s total was $181 million (while July 23-25, 2010 was $155 million).  This Friday-Sunday is looking like a stunning $272 million, up 50% from this weekend last year and up 67% from an “average” comparable weekend over the past four years.


This Weekend Last Two Years


Captain America: The First Avenger PAR PG13 Chris Evans Hugo Weaving
Opening Weekend — Forecast: $56 Actual: $65
Domestic Gross — Estimate: $183 Actual: $177
International — Estimate: n/a Actual: $192

Friends with Benefits SONY R Justin Timberlake Mila Kunis
Opening Weekend — Forecast: $23 Actual: $19
Domestic Gross — Estimate: $66 Actual: $56
International — Estimate: n/a Actual: $94


Salt SONY PG13 Angelina Jolie Liev Schreiber
Opening Weekend — Forecast: $38 Actual: $36
Domestic Gross — Estimate: $122 Actual: $118
International — Estimate: n/a Actual: $175

Ramona and Beezus FOX G Joey King Selena Gomez
Opening Weekend — Forecast: $9 Actual: $8
Domestic Gross — Estimate: $29 Actual: $26
International — Estimate: n/a Actual: $0


Check back throughout the weekend for box office updates as the actual numbers come in.


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.