July 28, 2011



An eclectic trio of films open wide this weekend.  Cowboys & Aliens (the ultimate genre mash-up) should win the weekend with $41.5 million.  Captain America should drop to second place, while The Smurfs should battle with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 for third place.  Crazy, Stupid, Love should open quietly in fifth place.  All in all, the weekend should be up around 25% versus the same weekend last year (a rather squalid affair with Dinner for Schmucks, Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore and Charlie St. Cloud opening).   

Opening at more than 3,700 theaters, Cowboys & Aliens should average a solid $11,200 per theater (for $41.5 million for Friday-Sunday).  Critical reception so far has been somewhat neagtive, 43% positive at RottenTomatoes.  Read Mitch Salem’s review of Cowboys & Aliens

At about 3,200 theaters, The Smurfs should average an above par $7,100 (for $23 million this weekend).  Based on the 1980s Saturday morning cartoon, the movie has been panned so far, 9% positive at RottenTomatoes (although the review sample size at this point is low).
And opening at approximately 2,900 locations, Crazy, Stupid, Love should average a very mediocre $5,600 (for $16 million).  Critics have been endorsing this comedy (71% positive reviews), suggesting the film could hold up fairly well in the coming weeks despite a slow start.  Be sure to read Mitch Salem’s review of Crazy, Stupid, Love

New Films                        Critics    Opening  Domestic
July 29-31                       Positive   Weekend   Total*
Cowboys & Aliens        Uni  PG13   43%      $ 41.5    $111
The Smurfs             Sony  PG      9%      $ 23      $ 80
Crazy, Stupid, Love.     WB  PG13   71%      $ 16      $ 64

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.

Captain America should drop a fairly moderate 51% in its second weekend, while Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 should decline 53%, which looks like a Titanic-esque hold given the 72% collapse we saw for Harry in weekend two.

Major Returning Films            Change     This    Domestic
July 29-31                      vs wknd 1  Weekend   Total*

Captain America        Par        -51%      $32       $191

Harry Potter Deathly 2  WB        -53%      $22       $367–
Friends with Benefits Sony        -46%      $10       $ 70
Horrible Bosses         WB        -36%      $ 7.5     $120+
Transformers 3      Par/DW        -47%      $ 6.5     $372 
Zookeeper             Sony
        -37%      $ 5.5     $ 83+

Winnie the Pooh        Dis        -38%      $ 3       $ 34
Cars 2                 Dis
        -42%      $ 3       $192

Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in the comparable weekend have averaged $140 million total, ranking 18th of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $136 million, and the year before was $114 million.  This Friday-Sunday is looking like another up weekend at $173 million, up more than 25% from this weekend last year.   

This Weekend Last Two Years

 Dinner for Schmucks PAR/ DW PG13 Steve Carell Paul Rudd  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $22  Actual: $24
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $74  Actual: $73
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $13
 Cats & Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore WB PG Christina Applegate Neil Patrick Harris  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $18  Actual: $12
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $41  Actual: $43
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $69
 Charlie St. Cloud UNI PG13 Zac Effron Kim Bassinger  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $13  Actual: $12
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $33  Actual: $31
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $15
 Funny People UNI R Seth Rogen Adam Sandler  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $35  Actual: $23
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $62  Actual: $52
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $20
 Aliens in the Attic FOX PG    
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $10  Actual: $8
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $25  Actual: $25
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $31
 The Collector FREE R    
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $4  Actual: $4
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $7  Actual: $8
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $0
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.