Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Nov 13 - 15)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. 201268.0$20,000 average
2. A Christmas Carol19.5-35%
3. The Men Who Stare at Goats6.6-48%
4. Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire6.0+220%
5. Michael Jackson's This Is It5.0-62%
6. The Fourth Kind5.0-59%
7. Paranormal Activity4.0-52%
8. Couples Retreat3.9-36%
9. Law Abiding Citizen3.7-38%
10. Pirate Radio3.3$3,700 average
11. The Box3.2-58%

1. All the elements look perfect for 2012. The market is quite empty, as for only the second time in the past six years, we did not have a $40m opener on the first weekend of November. Director Emmerich has a consistent track record box office wise, especially when come to disaster movies. Sony moved the tentpole out of July to make it stand out, and other studios scrambled out of the way accordingly. The poll numbers and interests level, as well as the equivalent deduction from early strong oversea returns, are all pointing to a minimum of $60m start. Could it become the highest non-Harry Potter opener in November, currently held by The Incredibles ($70.5m)? Definitely, although it is somewhat surprising to see a theater count of only 3,404, low for a blockbuster of this size in today's standard.

2. Originally released as The Boat That Rocked in U.K. and elsewhere, Pirate Radio is finally coming to the states more than half a year later. Focus Feature asserted it will be a good counter programming to 2012, but the argument does not hold much water considering the film is rated R, and 2012 covers most of the audience it appeals to. To Focus' credit, they have given it a good marketing push by attaching the trailer to a lot of movies, but that only got Taking Woodstock, a film of many resemblance, to a $3.5m opening. Expect a similar gross here.

3. We knew Precious was going to have a gigantic per-theater-average last weekend, but few thought $100K was possible with 18 theaters. Now its buzz is really taking off, Lionsgate is pouncing on it by accelerating the speed of expansion to 174 locations on Friday. Although two completely different films, it starts to remind me of Paranormal Activity. Lionsgate is carefully picking the initial set of markets, and the screen allocations per theater is astounding. In the San Francisco area, it is receiving 3-4 screens on average, on par with what Paranormal Activity got when it expanded to over 100 locations for the first time. It gives confidence that the average per theater will remain high. It may not challenge PA's insane $49K average in 160, but maintaining over $30K should be achievable, if not likely.

4. After a subdued opening of $30m, A Christmas Carol really took advantage of Veterans Day and showed its run will be more akin to The Polar Express than Where The Wide Things Are, the dark theme notwithstanding. A 35% drop will push its total to $60m and make it on a trajectory to $150m. With its quirky humor, The Men Who Stare at Goats is receiving a reaction similar to The Informant's and should follow similar path as well, although 2012 could eat away a bigger portion of the audience this weekend.

5. The other two openers from last weekend will likely retreat at a much larger pace with 2012 looming and their own mediocre word-of-mouth. In fact, "mediocre" would be a kind understatement for The Box, as it earned a CinemaScore of F to join a small list of films which included The Bug, Wolf Creek, and Solaris remake. On the other side, The Fourth Kind exhibited its frontloadedness with a opening Fri-to-Sat decline. Veterans Day also helped to push some of their remaining gross forward by a couple of days. Look for both to drop close to 60%.

6. Although few observers ever believed This Is It was going to be a strictly two-week engagement, the film will suffer the similar syndrome that Toy Story 3D and Hannah Montana's concert movie experienced when they extended beyond the original schedules: a harsh drop right after. Hannah Montana saw little Friday increase and nosedived 67%, while Toy Story 3D, with better conditions and daily numbers, failed to escape from a 60%+ decline as well. The one advantage This Is It has is a much higher degree of theater saturation (still in over 3,000 screens), so more people could have an opportunity to realize it is remaining in theaters. On the other hand, it also has to face a much bigger and direct competition in 2012. The two could balance each other out, leaving it to have a drop of the same magnitude.

7. After a magnificent month-long run that pushed it to the brink of $100m, Paranormal Activity has begun to slow down, but it could have enough left to make a run at $120m, while Couples Retreat and Law Abiding Citizen, two of the leggiest films of the recent weeks, should continue their stay in the top 10.


  1. Wow 20k pta seems very aggressive on 2012. I'll be impressed if you nailed this one.

  2. Alright, looks like you're going to be pretty darn close. Good job.

  3. Congrats on the BOM derby win!!