May 16, 2012


Weekend #20 of 2012 looks like it will be about $156 million for the top 12 films, down 2% from last year’s comparable weekend and down the same amount from the four-year average for this weekend.  Three movies open, with Battleship headed for the biggest opening of the trio (about $42.5 million).  The Dictator starring Sacha Baron Cohen (opening today) and What to Expect When You’re Expecting should each gross around $18 million from Friday-Sunday.  Holding on to the #1 position this weekend, Marvel’s The Avengers should gross around $55 million in its third weekend (with a very good decline of under 50% from last weekend).           

Opening at an estimated 3,750 theaters, Battleship from Universal should average a decent $11,300 per theater (for $42.5 million Friday-Sunday).  [The average wide-release film the past  two years has had an opening three-day weekend of $5,525 per theater.]  However, reviews at RottenTomatoes are currently running at a soft 43% positive, and we expect word of mouth to be weak.  Battleship will probably suffer some serious declines in the second and third weekend and struggle mightily to get above $100 million domestic — we will set a preliminary $105 million domestic target.  

Opening at 3,003 theaters, The Dictator from Paramount should average a fairly mediocre $6,000 per theater (for $18.2 million Friday-Sunday).  Reviews at RottenTomatoes are currently running at 66% positive.  The Dictator is on track for a preliminary $75 million domestic.            

Opening at 3,021 theaters, What to Expect When You’re Expecting from Lionsgate should average $5,900 per theater (for $18.0 million Friday-Sunday).  Reviews at RottenTomatoes are currently running at a quite low 29% positive.  Evidently the film is just as unfunny as the television commercials and the theatrical trailer, which feels like it is about 15 minutes long.  What to Expect is on track for a preliminary $60 million domestic, with a very large drop in the following weekends.            



May 18-20, 2012 Critics Positive Opening Weekend Forecast Domestic Total Projection
Battleship Uni PG13 43% 42.5 105
The Dictator Par R 66% 18.2 75
What to Expect When You’re Expecting LG PG13 29% 18.0 60


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 holdovers, Marvel’s The Avengers should another terrific weekend, down under 50% to $55 million.  That won’t be a record for a third weekend.  Avatar has a lock on that particular record ($68.5 million, when its third weekend fell right around New Year’s Day).   

RETURNING FILMS ($ millions)
May 18-20, 2012 Change vs Last Weekend Weekend Forecast Showbuzz Domestic Final Proj.
The Avengers Dis -47% 55.0 615
Dark Shadows WB -52% 14.3 79
Think Like a Man Sony -47% 3.1 95
The Hunger Games LG -33% 3.0 405
The Lucky One WB -42% 2.4 60
Pirates! Band of Misfits Sony -41% 1.9 31


Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in this comparable weekend have averaged $160 million total, ranking 10th of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $159 million, while the same weekend in 2010 was $143 million.  This Friday-Sunday is looking like a just okay $156 million, down 2% from this weekend last year and down the same percentage from an “average” comparable weekend over the past four years.              


This Weekend Last Two Years


 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides DIS PG13 Johnny Depp Penelope Cruz 

 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $95  Actual: $90

 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $241  Actual: $241

 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $803



 Shrek Forever After PAR/ DW PG   

 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $98  Actual: $71

 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $240  Actual: $238

 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $499


  MacGruber UNI R Will Forte Kristen Wiig 

 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $12  Actual: $4

 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $11  Actual: $8

 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $1

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.