April 7, 2011

WEEKEND PREDICTIONS APR 8-10: Comedy Slugfest for #2

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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In a battle of two comedies this weekend, Arthur (Warner Bros) and Your Highness (Universal) should split the comedy audience, with Arthur having a slight edge (despite horrific reviews on rottentomatoes — I guess most critics share my disbelief that Russell Brand is opening a movie).  Read Mitch Salem’s review of Arthur to see what he thinks. Neither comedy looks strong enough to dethrone Hop from the top spot.  (Returning film forecasts are listed in a table below after the jump.)  For a look at how rare it is for two comedies (or any other genre) to open head to head, please read the post on Movie Scheduling.  Next weekend does not have a live action/ adult comedy opening, and both Universal and Warner Brothers would have benefited if one studio had blinked and moved their comedy one week.  Both studios certainly were attracted to this weekend because of Date Night‘s $27 million opening this weekend last year, but remember that Date was not only the only comedy opening but also the only movie opening.  As for the rest of this weekend’s slate, Soul Surfer and Hanna have rather quiet opening weekends ahead.

New Films                        Critics   Opening  Domestic
                                 Positive  Weekend  Ultimate
Arthur                  WB  PG13   07%      $15       $48
Your Highness          Uni  R      36%      $13.5     $38
Soul Surfer        TriStar  PG     36%      $10       $28

Hanna                Focus  PG13   83%      $ 8.5     $33

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.


As we said earlier, Hop has a clear hold on the #1 position in its second weekend.   It is poised for a decline below 40%, which is very good.  However, Hop is not showing the weekday strength of How to Train Your Dragon (admittedly a pretty high bar).  Hop  is on a solid (but not spectacular) track ahead.  Source Code‘s decline will also be good, and the 47% decline for Insidious is actually pretty good for a horror film.

Returning Films                  Change     This    Domestic

                                vs wknd 1  Weekend  Ultimate

Hop                    Uni        -37%      $23.7     $127
Source Code            Sum        -40%      $ 9       $46
Insidious            FilmD        -47%      $ 7       $32
Limitless              Rel        –38%      $ 6       $84
Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 Fox        -45%      $ 5.5     $58
Lincoln Lawyer         LG         -36%      $ 4.5     $62

Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in the comparable weekend have averaged $106 million total, ranking 35th of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $119 million, and April 10-12, 2009 was $126 million.  This weekend is looking like $107 million: in the average range but yet again below last year’s comparable weekend.  The slump continues.

This Weekend the Last Two Years

The forecast model was fairly close for all four films opening this weekend the last two years.  The portion of the model that projects the ultimate domestic gross was in the ballpark for all four films but not spectacularly close.  


Date Night (Fox) Opening Weekend Forecast $27; Actual: $25
Final estimate (week 2): $92. Actual Final: $99. International: $54

Hannah Montana: The Movie (Dis) Opening Weekend Forecast $26; Actual: $32
Final estimate (week 2): $88. Actual Final: $79. International: $76

Observe and Report (WB) Opening Weekend Forecast $16; Actual: $11
Final estimate (week 2): $28. Actual Final: $24. International: $1

Dragonball Evolution (Fox) Opening Weekend Forecast $7; Actual: $5

Final estimate (week 2): $7. Actual Final: $9. International: $48
We want to remind you about a helpful new feature, Showbuzz BasicsYou’ll find a list of frequently-used terms and jargon (that we sometimes take for granted), as well as some helpful rules of thumb in box office analysis. 

Come back throughout the weekend to see how the movies actually perform.  Saturday late 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.