Thursday, February 11, 2010

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Feb 12 - 15)

Movie Predicted Gross (m) Change
1. Valentin's Day 57.0 $15,550 PTA
2. The Wolfman 30.0 $9,310 PTA
3. Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief 28.0 $8,340 PTA
4. Avatar 23.5 +2.8%
5. Dear John 16.5 -45.8%
6. Tooth Fairy 7.0 +5.6%
7. From Paris with Love 5.3 -35.0%
8. Edge of Darkness 4.9 -28.6%
9. Crazy Heart 4.3 +20.4%
10. When in Rome 3.6 -35.1%

This is shaping up to be one of the most interesting weekends in quite some time, with many orthogonal factors contributing to its unpredictability. In addition to Valentine's Day on Sunday, Monday is President's Day, a federal and state holiday. Then there is the Winter Olympics starting on Friday. Since it is being held in Vancouver, we could expect it to attract a bigger TV audience than four years ago, when Italy's Turin had the honor of hosting the event. Canada's box office could especially be affected given how crazy the nation is about winter sports. And we have not even discussed what happened this past week, where persistent snowstorm on the east coast and Superbowl had deflated the receipt of various days. To top it all, each of the three new releases has at least above-average appeals to its core demographics and could earn close to $120m combined over the four days. It is going to be one exciting weekend to follow.

All the uncertainties aside, there is no doubt which film will in the end win the weekend: it is going to be the star-studded Valentine's Day. When the perfect release date meets terrible reviews, the former almost always prevails. It'll be the movie to see for many many females, both old and young. The stellar advance sales are more than matching what the tracking indicates. Look for a bigger Friday than what Dear John had, and it won't be as frontloaded for at least the first few days with the help of Valentine's Day. A 4-day total of over $50m is all but certain, and it would not surprise me to see the number approach $60m.

The other two releases, The Wolfman and Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, will be fighting out for the silver medal. Percy Jackson looks to have the advantage for Friday, but fantasy films tend to have smaller internal multipliers due to their appeal to the 13-17 years old crowd, and The Wolfman could come back to overtake it over the long weekend.

Avatar will face its most serious competition to date both in terms of screens and attentions. On the positive side, Superbowl deflated its last Sunday by about $3m, so the base to calculate the weekend drop from should be $26m, and 10% decline from there for the 4 days will yield a gross around $23.5m.

After surprising many people last week, Dear John will try to show it has some staying power by holding well on its sophomore frame. Valentine's Day will certainly help, but the competition and word-of-mouth are not on its side. The Friday increase should be around 150%, smaller than what When in Rome had given how big the movie Valentin's Day could be, and in that case, even a surge on Saturday and Sunday may not prevent it from dropping over 50% for the regular 3-day period.