October 27, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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Normally a relatively quiet period, the weekend before Halloween usually offers only one new release and well under $100 million in total volume for the top 12 movies.  But this year, we have three releases, with one poised to do solid business.  Puss In Boots should do well over $40 million in its opening weekend, and the second weekend of Paranormal Activity 3 should earn more than $20 million.  The top 12 films should total around $115 million, up 36% from the same weekend last year.    

Opening at more than 3,800 theaters in North America by Paramount for DreamWorks, Puss In Boots should average a very good $11,100 per theater (for $42.5 million for Friday-Sunday).  (All films the last two years have averaged $5,525 per theater in their opening weekend.)  Puss In Boots has received mostly favorable reviews, with 85% positive at RottenTomatoes.  The spin-off from the Shrek series should be on track for around $150 million in North America when it leaves theaters.    

At about 3,000 theaters, In Time from 20th Century Fox should average a weak $4,300 per theater (for $13 million this weekend).  The sci-fi thriller has a not very encouraging 38% positive reviews at RottenTomatoes so far.  This movie is probably headed for around $31 million domestically. 

At about 2,100 theaters, The Rum Diary distributed by FilmDistrict should average a weak $3,800 per theater (for $8 million this weekend).  The Johnny Depp film has received a mildly warm critical reception: 64% positive reviews at RottenTomatoes currently.  This movie is probably headed for around $28 million domestically. 

New Films                        Critics    Opening  Domestic
October 28-30                    Positive   Weekend   Total*

Puss In Boots        DW/Par  PG    85%      $42.5     $151
In Time                 Fox  PG13  38%      $13.0     $ 31
The Rum Diary       FilmDis  R     64%      $ 8.0     $ 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.

The second weekend of Paranormal Activity 3 should behave like a suspense/horror sequel and drop 60% but still delivering tens of millions more to Paramount’s bottom line this weekend.   

Major Returning Films            Change     This    Domestic
October 21-23                   vs wknd 1  Weekend   Total*

Paranormal Activity 3  Par        -60%      $21.1     $112
Real Steel            Sony        -40%      $ 6.5     $ 93

Footloose              Par        -37%      $ 6.5     $ 59
The Three Musketeers  Summ        -47%      $ 4.6     $ 20
Ides of March       DW/DIS        -32%      $ 3.3     $ 43 
Moneyball             Sony        -28%      $ 2.9     $ 75

Dolphin Tale            WB        -42%      $ 2.5     $ 76

Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in the comparable weekend have averaged $91 million total, ranking 44th of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $85 million and the same weekend in 2009 was $83 million.  This Friday-Sunday is looking like $115 million, up a very solid 36% from this weekend last year and up 27% from the four-year average for this weekend.       

This Weekend Last Two Years

 Saw 3D LG R Kimberly Elise Janet Jackson 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $22  Actual: $23
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $50  Actual: $46
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $90
 Michael Jackson’s This Is It SONY PG Michael Jackson  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $38  Actual: $23
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $95  Actual: $72
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $189

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 as a whole (based on Friday’s early numbers), on Sunday we will have initial studio estimates (based on Friday and Saturday actuals), and Monday we will have the final 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.