Thursday, November 5, 2009

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Nov 6 - 8)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. A Christmas Carol44.0$12,000 average
2. The Men Who Stare at Goats14.0$5,700 average
3. Michael Jackson's This Is It12.0-48%
4. The Fourth Kind10.0$3,950 average
5. Paranormal Activity9.0-45%
6. The Box7.0$2,650 average
7. Law Abiding Citizen4.6-38%
8. Couples Retreat4.4-32%
9. Where the Wild Things Are3.0-49%
10. Saw VI2.1-60%
-. Precious1.1$60,000 average

1. It appears that Christmas-themed movies are getting released earlier and earlier. This time A Christmas Carol is moving the calendar all the way up to the first weekend of November. Studio is not banking on huge openings for such films, but rather looking to take advantage of the persistent holiday spirit from Thanksgiving through the end of the year. The Polar Express, also directed by Robert Zemeckis, is one of the most successful examples by making over $160m total in its initial run after grossing only $30.6m in its first five days. Zemeckis' follow-up, Beowulf, did not possess the same appeal and was unable to repeat the same success. A Christmas Carol, by comparison, has advantages over both: a classic source material, over 2,000 3D screens plus 181 IMAX auditoriums, and an utter lack of competition in the market. Having Jim Carrey is just an icing on the cake. A $35m+ opening is all but assured, with breaking $40m a highly likely proposition.

2. George Clooney carried two films into Toronto International Film Festival and was one of its biggest stars. This week we will get to see one of the efforts, albeit the lesser-reviewed one. The Men Who Stare at Goats may not have the title to attract the viewers, but it does boast a strong lineup of male stars that should bring in plenty of older audience. It won't reach the height of Burn After Reading, which also had Brad Pitt with Coens at the helm, but outgrossing The Informant should not be a problem.

3. The other two new wide releases of the week will be competing for the similar demographics. Neither is expected to challenge the No. 2 position, but between them, Milla Jovovich's The Fourth Kind, being a more straight forward thriller with a more identifiable star for its demo, appears be in a better position. The Box, on the other hand, could have been better suited to stay at its original slot of the Halloween weekend, although the online signs are not terrible. Look for the former to make around $10m while the latter gets stuck in the high single digit.

4. The general audience will have plenty of options to choose from this weekend, but for Oscar watchers, the eyes will be squarely focusing on one film, Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire. The darling of the early festival season has practically locked up a Best Picture nomination, and this will be many's first opportunity to see why. With only 18 theaters, a $60K per-theater-average is a reasonable expectation.

5. Most thought Michael Jackson's This Is It would start strong and die off quickly, but the film is exhibiting the exact opposite pattern. The Wednesday-to-weekend multiplier of 3.1 is quite good, especially considering Saturday was depressed by Halloween. It will still show some frontloadedness, and there is a chance that its Friday increase this week will not be as good, but it will definitely not crash the way Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers' respective concert movies did. In fact, it could very well avoid a 50% drop.

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