Thursday, July 8, 2010

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Jul 9 - 11): Despicable Me and Predators

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Despicable Me45.0$12,950 PTA
2. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse28.0-56.8%
3. Toy Story 319.5-35.6%
4. Predators19.0$7,120 PTA
5. The Last Airbender14.8-63.3%
6. Grown Ups12.5-34.4%
7. Knight & Day7.3-30.1%
8. The Karate Kid5.5-31.3%
9. A-Team1.7-46.7%
10. Cyrus1.3+67.9%

The signs are looking great for Despicable Me. Here are some comparison with Box Office Mojo polls:

MovieOpening WeekendSometime in TheatersOn DVDOn TVNeverOpening #
Despicable Me21.4%26.3%24.0%8.4%20.0%?
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs13.9%17.5%22.4%7.5%38.6%$30.3m
Monsters Vs. Aliens27.7%26.0%23.5%6.4%16.4%$59.3m
Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who22.3%19.4%25.0%8.7%24.7%$45.0m
Robots21.8%32.8%25.5%7.5%12.4%$36.0m

Its polls are quite similar to what Horton Hears a Who and Robots had and 50% better than Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' figures. When we add in the ticket price inflation and 3D screens, anything less than $40m seems highly unlikely. The fact that Major Theater Chain's tracking came in way above Reel Source's (35 vs. low-20s) only confirms the feeling, not to mention it has been selling well online, one area it is not supposed to excel in. Look for it to exceed most expectations to take the weekend at ease.

The scenario is the exact opposite for Predators. Its Major Theater Chain's tracking number was significantly below the Reel Source one (24 vs. low-to-mid-30s), and the BOM polls are not encouraging either:

MovieOpening WeekendSometime in TheatersOn DVDOn TVNeverOpening #
Predators24.8%22.1%23.5%6.8%22.9%?
Aliens Vs. Predator - Requiem23.4%14.4%19.7%5.4%37.1%$26.9m (6-day)
Alien Vs. Predator32.3%22.1%19.9%7.6%18.1%$38.3m
Saw VI17.7%7.8%16.3%4.4%53.8%$14.1m

The breakdown is comparable to Requiem but at least better than what Saw VI received. It indicates an opening day in the range of $8-9m, but even with better than expected reviews (currently having a fresh rating overall at Rottentomatoes), a large Saturday decline will be in store, and the weekend IM won't be higher than 2.3. Another worrisome sign is that its actual theater count is only 2,669, even lower than originally estimated. Difficult to see it breaking $20m under these circumstances.

Two weeks ago, if we were asked which would drop more on the second weekend between Eclipse and The Last Airbender, the former would have grabbed the lion share of the vote due to the frontloaded nature of the Twilight franchise, but now the latter appears destined to win. Between the two, Eclipse is having much stronger weekday numbers and enjoying better word-of-mouth. The new releases will also hit The Last Airbender's demographics, as well as its 3D screens, much more directly. If Eclipse could limit its drop to mid-50s this weekend, it will in fact stand a decent shot at passing New Moon's total.

The last time July 4th fell on a Sunday, in 2004, all non-openers in the top 10 enjoyed excellent holds the following weekend. Expect similar behavior this time around, unless a film is losing huge amount of theaters. In particular, look for Toy Story 3 to survive the opening of Despicable Me just fine and clear one of the last hurdles in its path toward $400m.

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