May 5, 2011

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS MAY 6-8: Thor Will Be Big But Enough to Propel Another Up Weekend?

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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>Thor appears to be headed for a solid opening but not enough to push the weekend up versus last year (when Iron Man 2 opened huge).  Two other openers, both romantic comedies, should have minimal impact.

Opening at over 3,500 theaters, Thor should average a very good $19,000 per theater (for $67 million total).  Although this is a very solid opening, it will be compared to Iron Man 2‘s $128 million opening weekend ($29,252 average at 4,380 theaters).  After three up weekends in a row, the box office should be down again this weekend.  Nonetheless, Thor currently boasts an 88% positive review number at RottenTomatoes, suggesting the film could play longer than most comic/ action films.   
The other opening films, two comedies aimed at women, should have minimal impact.  Playing at fewer theaters (about 1,900), Jumping the Broom should average $5,400 (slightly above the average number for all wide-release films).  With a largely African-American cast, this film has the potential to beat a modest $10 million opening weekend forecast if it clicks with African-Americans, a very loyal movie audience segment.  In contrast, Something Borrowed should average only $3,900 at 2,900 theaters.  This film feels like it is very likely to hit its $11 million forecast but then go away very quickly.

New Films                        Critics    Opening  Domestic
May 6-8                          Positive   Weekend   Total*
Thor                    Par  PG13   88%      $67       $195
Something Borrowed       WB  PG13   16%      $11       $ 24
Jumping the Broom      Sony  PG13   33%      $10       $ 28

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.

Fast Five is the one returning film looking to have an impact this weekend.  However, the 56% decline in its second weekend suggests the action film will not have an unusually long play in theaters.  Nonetheless, an estimated $185 million total domestic gross is nothing to scoff at, especially when paired with huge international numbers.  (We will have updated international numbers Monday or Tuesday).  The other returning films appear to be headed for weekends below $10 million.

Major Returning Films            Change     This    Domestic

                                vs wknd 1  Weekend   Total*

Fast Five              Uni        -56%      $38       $185
Rio                    Fox        -42%      $ 9       $150
Water for Elephants    Fox        -35%      $ 6       $ 57
Madea’s Big Happy Fam.  LG        -56%      $ 4.5     $ 61
Hoodwinked Too!      Weins        -38%      $ 2.5     $  7
Prom                   Dis        -47%      $ 2.5     $ 11

Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in the comparable weekend have averaged $132 million total, ranking 19th of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $171 million, and May 8-10, 2009 was $143 million.  This weekend is looking like $155 million: the first down weekend in four weeks. 

This Weekend Last Two Years

Traditionally, the first weekend in May supports one huge movie to kick off “summer”, with a few much smaller films going along for the ride.  
 Iron Man 2 PAR PG13 Robert Downey Jr Gwyneth Paltrow  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $155  Actual: $128
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $327  Actual: $312
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $310
 Babies UNI PG    
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $3  Actual: $2
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $9  Actual: $7
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $2
 Star Trek PAR PG13 Chris Pine Zachary Quinto  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $67  Actual: $75
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $261  Actual: $258
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $127
 Next Day Air SUMMIT R Donald Faison Mos Def  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $4  Actual: $4
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $9  Actual: $10
 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 (based on Friday’s actual numbers), on Sunday we will have studio estimates (based on Friday and Saturday), and Monday we will have a complete wrap-up based on the actual full-weekend numbers. 

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.