Thursday, December 3, 2009

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Dec 4 - 6)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. The Blind Side20.0-50.1%
2. The Twilight Saga: New Moon19.5-55%
3. A Christmas Carol8.5-46%
4. Brothers8.0$3,830 average
5. 20127.0-60%
6. Armored6.5$3,400 average
7. Old Dogs6.5-62%
8. Ninja Assassin5.7-57%
9. Everybody's Fine4.0$1,880 average
10. Planet 513.8-63%
-. Up in the Air1.1$73,300 average
-. Translymania0.3$284 average

The general assumption is that the public would be in recovery mode post-Thanksgiving, both physically and mentally from all the shopping and traveling, so movie studios by and large have avoided releasing anything major this weekend. Such strategy creates a downward cycle where the depressed frame caused studios to think they are correct in avoiding it, and that in turn depresses the same weekends in the future further, even though in 2003, by making $37m combined, The Last Samurai and Honey demonstrated, as many other occasions have before and after, that viewers can and will turn up regardless of the season if they deem the product is worth spending for. During the five years since then, the best an individual film has done is $12.7m from Aeon Flux, and on average a film has opened to a paltry $5.3m. The scenario does not figure to change this year, as none of the four new wide releases are expected to break double digits.

Among them, Brothers looks to be in best shape with reasonable online interests and appearance on the top 5 advance ticket sales list. It possesses the most star power with Maguire, Portman, and Gyllenhaal, and director Jim Sheridan could bring in some additional fans of his as well. Look for it to reach high single digit. Armored will be competing for the young male crowd and does have the rating advantage, but the trailer has not generated much curiosity. A $2-2.5m Friday is likely for a $6-7m weekend. Going into the week, people appeared to have the highest hope on Everybody's Fine given its genre and cast, but such hope is fading fast. The tracking numbers are indicating a sub $5m weekend, and the signs so far are confirming a similar outcome. Even though the film appeals to an older audience, not registering anywhere either online or in advance sales is troublesome. A mere $4m weekend would not be surprising. If a question is asked about if one was aware of what the film Translymania, our final wide release of the week, is before this week, I doubt we would see many hands raised. In fact, even now few know of its existence. The distributor Full Circle Releasing is the new kid on the block, although a more experienced studio would still find headache promoting this one. At least Full Circle Releasing somehow convinced 1,055 theater owners to show the film, but the per-theater-average could challenge the all-time low for a movie released in over 1,000 locations, currently held by Delgo with its $237 average. Nobel Son, which grossed $333,912 in 893 theaters, could be a good comparison.

With wide releases taking a rest, the weekend gives films with limited engagement an opportunity to shine, and this time it is no other than Up in the Air. Long regarded as one of the frontrunners for the year-end awards including the Oscar and fresh off winning NBR, the film has all the momentum to make a long and prosperous box office run. Its ceiling may not be as high as Juno's due to the more restricted R-rating and a more adult-oriented theme, but that will not affect this weekend when it is only released in 15 theaters. The per-theater-average is unlikely to be as high as Precious' $100K since the latter was more strategically placed with more screens per theater, but exceeding Juno's $59K in 7 should be easily within reach. It will gradually expand the next couple of weeks before going nationwide on Christmas weekend.

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