Thursday, August 20, 2009

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Aug 21 - 23)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Inglourious Basterds27.0$8,531 PTA
2. District 917.5-53.2%
3. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra10.7-52.1%
4. The Time Traveler's Wife8.5-54.4%
5. Julie & Julia8.3-31.2%
6. Shorts6.0$1,932 PTA
7. Post Grad5.2$2,656 PTA
8. G-Force
4.1-40.7%
9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince2.8-45.5%
10. The Ugly Truth2.7-39.3%
-. The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard2.4-57.5%
-. X Games 3D The Movie1.4$1,001 PTA

After a decidedly muted reception at Cannes, Inglourious Basterds was left for dead on the awards front, and its box office prospect became even more murkier. However, it is now surging almost all the way back with the majority of critics praising its final theatrical version and tracking showing it could surpass Kill Bill 2 to become Tarantino's biggest opener ever. Unlike Grindhouse, Inglourious Basterds has a bona-fide star for the lead in Brad Pitt, who is heavily featured in the trailers. A failure of similar proportion is quite impossible, and it could break out to $30m+.

The signs for Shorts range from weak to terrible. The BOM poll numbers of 67.6% Never and 2.5% OW are worse than Aliens in the Attic's and only a little better than what Hoot (which opened to a miserable $1,116 PTA in 3,018 theaters) had. The tracking is not showing much strength either. Robert Rodriguez has some fanbase of his own, but at this moment, a sub-$7m opening appears highly likely.

On first glance, the poll number for Post Grad may look bleak as well (70.7% Never and only 2.7% OW), but the genre is always one of the worse performers for such questions at BOM. For example, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, Alexis Bledel's film last year, had 76.5% Never and 4.5% OW, while still opened to almost $4K PTA. The bigger issue facing Post Grad is that we have had two consecutive openers in the last couple of weeks targeting at the female audience, and the competition could be tough to overcome. Still, Bledel should have enough drawing power to match the tracking number of $5-6m.

One has to wonder why a film like X Games 3D is made in the first place. No data is suggesting people care about it at all and even know it exist. The BOM poll of 82.7% Never and 1.9% OW is one of the very worst in history. Its PTA will only be saved by the inflated 3D prices. it reminds me of Supercross, and I expect a similar opening as a result.

After a strong opening weekend, District 9 continues to see good figures during the week, but they are not untypical enough to suggest a sub-50% drop, not with Inglourious Basterds attracting a similar demographics of viewers. For the other holdovers, G.I. Joe may not escape another 50%+ drop with the new stream of competition, while two comparable films are moving in the opposite directions. In fact, natural frontloadedness and mediocre WOM could hit The Time Traveler's Wife hard enough that it falls below Julie & Julia this weekend, despite of leading by 50% in the last frame. J&J has narrowed its week-to-week drop to 36.5% on Wednesday, and with less competition, it should see a bigger Friday bump this time. It is going to be a close battle between the two.

After finally stabilizing nicely and crossing $100m, G-Force will face the double challenge of losing audience to Shorts and losing 3D screens to X-Games. A 40% drop could be expected.

In their brief three-year history, Paramount Vantage had opened a film in over 1,000 theaters right away just four times. None of the previous three saw good second weekend hold (Black Snake Moan: -54.5%, A Mighty Heart: -59.8%, How She Move: -62.8%), and The Goods should be no different.

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