May 26, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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Memorial Day weekend brings two strong openers and what should be a very solid weekend — well ahead of last year’s numbers for the weekend.

Opening at 3,615 theaters, The Hangover Part II should average a very strong $21,400 per theater (for $79 million between the traditional three-day Friday-Sunday period).  Over the five-day Thursday-Monday period, the second Hangover should total $98 million.  Obviously, Warner Brothers is pulling for over $100 million, but it will be close.  Opening on 3,925 screens, Kung Fu Panda 2 should average $17,500 (for a three-day total of $70 million and a five-day total of $87 million).  

UPDATE: DeadlineHollywood reports The Hangover Part II grossed a very good “$9-10 million” in midnight screenings Thursday.  Other studios, they write, are saying the movie is headed for $125 million over the five-day opening period, but Warner Brothers is sticking to their $100 million forecast, as are we.  This will be a fun race to watch over the weekend.  Be sure to check back Saturday and Sunday for updates.

SECOND UPDATE: Predictions for The Hangover Part II and Kung Fu Panda 2 have been adjusted slightly — click Weekend Box Office Predictions — Second Update to read more.  

Given the cool critical reception for Hangover 2 (34% positive on — although Mitch Salem gave it “Worth a Ticket”), we expect the long-term playability of Hangover to be much lower than the original (78% positive).  The exclusive ShowBuzzDaily Domestic Total estimate is less than the original for Hangover Part II but slightly higher than the original for Kung Fu Panda 2

New Films                        Critics    Opening  Domestic
May 27-29 THREE-DAY ONLY         Positive   Weekend   Total*
The Hangover Part II     WB  R      34%      $79      $240
Kung Fu Panda 2      Par/DW  PG13   75%      $70      $225

Original Track
The Hangover             6.5.2009   78%      $45      $277 

Kung Fu Panda            6.6.2008   85%      $60      $215

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.
Pirates 4 should be comfortably in third place, although its second weekend decline is larger than normal, as predicted in the Weekday Box Office Report Wednesday.  Bridesmaids continues to decline at a better than average pace. 
Major Returning Films            Change     This    Domestic
THREE-DAY ONLY                  vs wknd 1  Weekend   Total*
Pirates 4              Dis        -57%      $39       $255

Bridesmaids            Uni        -31%      $14.5     $125

Thor                   Par        -49%      $ 8       $195

Fast Five              Uni        -49%      $ 5.5     $205

Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in the comparable weekend have averaged $150 million total, ranking 11th of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $145 million, and May 29-31, 2009 was $161 million.  This weekend (three-day only) is looking like an enormous $226 million: a lot of ground versus 2010 will be made up this weekend, thanks to two strong openers..   

This Weekend Last Two Years

 Sex and the City 2 WB R Sarah Jessica Parker Kim Cattrall  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $48  Actual: $31
 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
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $96  Actual: $91
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $244
 Up DIS PG    
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $63  Actual: $68
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $257  Actual: $293
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $214
 Drag Me to Hell UNI R Alison Lohman Justin Long  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $22  Actual: $16
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $50  Actual: $42
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $44
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 (based on Friday’s actual numbers), on Sunday we will have studio estimates (based on Friday and Saturday), and Tuesday we will wrap up the five-day weekend.

Have a great Memorial Day 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.