October 7, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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This weekend should be another good one versus last year, up around 9%.  The strongest entry looks to be Hugh Jackman and the robot boxers in Real Steel — it’s playing in a lot of theaters and we expect a very solid per screen average, giving it a forecast $26 million opening.  (Aside from The Lion King 3D reissue, this would be the best opening since The Help in mid-August.)  In contrast, George Clooney’s The Ides of March is opening in a below average number of theaters.  Although its per theater number should be decent (but not as high as Real Steel’s), the opening weekend box office should be half of Real Steel’s tally.  Family favorite Dolphin Tale should round out the top three. 
Opening at more than 3,300 theaters in North America by Disney for DreamWorks, Real Steel should average a sturdy $7,900 per theater (for $26 million for Friday-Sunday).  (All films the last two years have averaged $5,525 per theater in their opening weekend.)  Real Steel has received mostly favorable reviews, with 71% positive at RottenTomatoes.  This Hugh Jackman actioner should be on track for around $80 million in North America when it leaves theaters.

At only about 2,000 theaters, The Ides of March from Sony should average a good $6,600 per theater (for $13 million this weekend).  The George Clooney-Ryan Gosling political thriller has a very good 80% positive reviews at RottenTomatoes.  This movie is probably headed for around $45 million domestically, although if it is in the Oscar hunt that will be revised upward significantly. 

New Films                        Critics    Opening  Domestic
October 2-9                      Positive   Weekend   Total*

Real Steel             Sony  PG13   71%      $ 26.0    $ 80 
Ides of March        DW/DIS  R      80%      $ 13.0    $ 45

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 third weekend film of Dolphin Tale should be the most significant player this weekend among the holdovers but not enough to challenge either of the two opening films.

Major Returning Films            Change     This    Domestic
October 2-9                     vs wknd 1  Weekend   Total*

Dolphin Tale            WB        -25%      $10.5     $ 75
Moneyball             Sony        -36%      $ 8.0     $ 75 
Courageous            Sony        -35%      $ 6.0     $ 25
50/50               Summit        -38%      $ 5.5     $ 35 
Lion King 3D           Dis        -55%      $ 5.0     $115
Dream House            Uni        -52%      $ 4.0     $ 11
What’s Your Number?    Fox        -45%      $ 3.0     $ 12

Abduction               LG        -45%      $ 3.0     $ 28 
Contagion               WB        -42%      $ 3.0     $ 80

Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in the comparable weekend have averaged $87 million total, ranking 45th of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $81 million and the same weekend in 2009 was $96 million.  This Friday-Sunday is looking like $89 million, up about 9% from this weekend last year but only 2% above the four-year average for this weekend.       

This Weekend Last Two Years

 Life As We Know It WB PG13 Katherine Heigl Josh Duhamel 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $16  Actual: $15
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $49  Actual: $53
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $52
 Secretariat DIS PG Diane Lane John Malkovich 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $15  Actual: $13
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $54  Actual: $60
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $1
 My Soul to Take UNI R   
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $8  Actual: $7
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $14  Actual: $15
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $6
 Couples Retreat UNI PG13 Vince Vaughn Jason Bateman 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $26  Actual: $34
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $100  Actual: $109
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $61
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.