May 23, 2012


Weekend #21 of 2012 (the traditional Friday-Sunday portion of this Memorial Day weekend) looks like it will total about $153 million for the top 12 films, down 29% from last year’s comparable weekend and down 11% from the four-year average for the weekend.  Two movies open Friday, Men in Black 3 and Chernobyl Diaries.  Although MIB3 in all probability will open at #1 this weekend and grab some headlines for pushing The Avengers out of the top spot, its projected opening is not particularly noteworthy for Memorial Day.  As The Avengers (slowly) winds down, another film is going to have to step up to support the box office.  MIB3 does not seem to be the one.   And forget about Chernobyl Diaries.  It’s DOA.

Opening at an estimated 4,000 theaters, Men in Black 3 from Sony should average $13,700 per theater (for $55 million Friday-Sunday and $68 million Friday-Monday).  [The average wide-release film the past two years has had an opening three-day weekend of $5,525 per theater.]  A $68 million four-day opening would put MIB3 at #11 on the all-time Memorial Day weekend opening list (behind Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and ahead of Madagascar).  A solid opening, just not exceptional.  The reviews at RottenTomatoes are currently running at a good 67% positive — so word of mouth might actually be decent.  But do you know anyone dying to see this movie in the first place?  Or even talking about it?  We have Men in Black 3 at a preliminary $155 million domestic estimate.   

Opening at 2,450 theaters, Chernobyl Diaries from Warner Brothers should average a horrific $4,200 per theater (for $10 million Friday-Sunday and $12.5 million Friday-Monday).  No reviews yet — it’s not unusual for horror films to be hidden from critics.  Chernobyl Diaries is on track for a preliminary $20 million domestic.

May 25-27, 2012 Critics Positive Opening Weekend Forecast Domestic Total Projection
Men in Black 3 Sony PG13 67% 55.0 155
Chernobyl Diaries WB R n/a 10.0 20

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 decline a very low 34% this weekend to $36.5 million from Friday-Sunday, putting its fourth weekend as the second-biggest of all time (like last weekend, behind only Avatar on the list).  For the record, Avengers should gross $45.5 over the four-day holiday weekend.  Battleship is not cratering so far this work week ($2.4 million Monday and $2.3 million Tuesday — fairly typical numbers compared to its opening) so we are giving it a typical 48% decline to $13.5 million Friday-Sunday and $16.5 million Friday-Monday.  The Dictator should hold a little better relatively, down 42% to $10.0 million and $12.5 million over the four-day weekend).   


RETURNING FILMS ($ millions)
May 25-27, 2012 Change vs Last Weekend Weekend Forecast Showbuzz Domestic Final Proj.
The Avengers Dis -34% 36.5 605
Battleship Uni -48% 13.5 62
The Dictator Par -42% 10.0 59
Dark Shadows WB -42% 7.5 76
What to Expect When You’re Expecting LG -39% 6.5 20
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel LG +42% 4.5 n/a
The Hunger Games LG -33% 2.0 405
Think Like a Man Sony -42% 1.5 94

Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in this comparable weekend (three-day Friday-Sunday only) have averaged $172 million total, ranking 4th of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $216 million (fueled by Hangover Part II and Kung Fu Panda 2).  This Friday-Sunday is looking like a weak $153 million, down 29% from this weekend last year and down 11% from an “average” comparable weekend over the past four years.              

This Weekend Last Two Years


 The Hangover Part II WB R Bradley Cooper Ed Helms 

 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $81  Actual: $86      *three-day opening

 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $262  Actual: $254

 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $327

 Kung Fu Panda 2 PAR/ DW PG   

 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $72  Actual: $48     *three-day opening

 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $167  Actual: $165

 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $500


 Sex and the City 2 WB R Sarah Jessica Parker Kim Cattrall 

 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $48  Actual: $31     *three-day opening

 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $102  Actual: $95

 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $193

 Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time DIS PG13 Jake Gyllenhaal Ben Kingsley 

 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $37  Actual: $30      *three-day opening

 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $96  Actual: $91

 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $244


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.