June 20, 2012

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS June 22-24 — Brave the Only Game in Town

Weekend #25 of 2012 looks like another disappointment: a soft $150 million for the top 12 films, down 12% from last year’s comparable weekend and down 14% from the four-year average for the weekend.  Pixar’s Brave should open well, but the other two openers will struggle to find any audience and there certainly won’t be much second-weekend business for last weekend’s crop.

Opening at roughly 4,000 theaters, Brave (the latest from Pixar, with Disney along for the distribution ride) should average a shade under $15,000 per theater (for $59.5 million Friday-Sunday).  [The average wide-release film the past two years has had an opening three-day weekend of $5,525 per theater.]  The reviews at RottenTomatoes are currently running at an acceptable 76% positive (similar to the 74% for Cars, but nowhere near the universal love showered on many Pixar efforts).  Recall the reviews for these classics — Toy Story (100% positive), Toy Story 2 (100%), Toy Story 3 (99%), Up (98%), Wall-E (96%).   Granted, Brave is not reviled like last year’s Cars 2 (38% positive), but the audience might be expecting a gourmet meal after the foul taste that remains after the exceptionally crappy meal of Cars 2.  Anything less than the Pixar gold standard might cause tepid word of mouth.  And let’s face it, many young boys are not going to beg to see a film with a female lead unless they hear it’s terrific.  Brave currently stands at a preliminary $200 million ShowbuzzDaily domestic estimate (more A Bug’s Life and Ratatouille than Toy Story or Finding Nemo).

Opening at about 3,000 theaters, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter from 20th Century Fox should average $5,600 per theater (for $16.5 million Friday-Sunday).  Early reviews at RottenTomatoes are running 40% positive.  Abe currently stands at a preliminary $42 million domestic estimate.  Who doesn’t like Lincoln?  Who isn’t fascinated by vampires?  Who wants to see this movie?    

Hoping for a miracle courtesy Steve Carell, Universal and Focus are releasing Seeking a Friend for the End of the World on a fairly wide (for Focus) 1,400 theaters and actually spending some money on television spots (including many in the NBA Finals).  But this looks extremely narrow — it should average about $5,600 per theater for a $7.8 million opening weekend.  With 60% positive reviews currently, the preliminary final domestic estimate is $26 million.

June 22-24, 2012 Critics Positive Opening Weekend Forecast Domestic Total Projection
Brave Dis Pixar PG 76% 59.5 200
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Fox R 40% 16.5 42
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Focus Uni R 60% 7.8 26

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.


After Madagascar 3, business looks pretty thin for the other holdovers.  Two animated movies aren’t enough to sustain what should be a very busy summer movie weekend.  

RETURNING FILMS ($ millions)
June 22-24, 2012 Change vs Last Weekend Weekend Forecast Showbuzz Domestic Final Proj.
Madagascar 3 Par DW -49%  17.3  209 
Prometheus Fox -52%  9.9  136 
Rock of Ages WB -47% 7.7 42
Snow White and the Hunstman Uni -43% 7.6 154
That’s My Boy Sony -50% 6.7 35
The Avengers Dis -36% 6.5 609
Men in Black 3 Sony -40% 6.0 183


Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in this comparable weekend have averaged $175 million total, ranking 6th of 52 weeks.  Last year (June 24-26) this weekend’s total was $170 million (while June 25-27, 2010 was $157 million, June 26-28, 2009 was $193 million, and June 27-29, 2008 was $180 million).  This Friday-Sunday is looking like a mediocre $150 million, down 12% from this weekend last year and down 14% from an “average” comparable weekend over the past four years.  


This Weekend Last Two Years


Cars 2 DIS G
Opening Weekend — Forecast: $65 Actual: $66
Domestic Gross — Estimate: $178 Actual: $191
International — Estimate: n/a Actual: $368

Bad Teacher SONY R Cameron Diaz Jason Segal
Opening Weekend — Forecast: $23 Actual: $32
Domestic Gross — Estimate: $96 Actual: $100
International — Estimate: n/a Actual: $116


Grown Ups SONY PG13 Adam Sandler Kevin James
Opening Weekend — Forecast: $38 Actual: $41
Domestic Gross — Estimate: $121 Actual: $162
International — Estimate: n/a Actual: $109

Knight & Day FOX PG13 Tom Cruise Cameron Diaz
Opening Weekend — Forecast: $26 Actual: $20
Domestic Gross — Estimate: $73 Actual: $76
International — Estimate: n/a Actual: $184


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.