Friday, August 27, 2010

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Aug 27 - 29)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Takers15.7$7,100 PTA
2. The Last Exorcism15.5$5,400 PTA
3. The Expendables9.0-47.0%
4. Eat Pray Love7.8-35.6%
5. Nanny McPhee Returns6.0-28.6%
6. The Other Guys5.8-42.7%
7. Inception5.2-33.7%
8. Vampires Suck5.0-59.0%
9. Avatar: Special Edition4.8$5,900 PTA
10. The Switch4.8-43.1%
11. Lottery Ticket4.6-56.8%
12. Piranha 3D4.0-60.4%

The battle of Takers and The Last Exorcism somewhat reminded the weekend of Four Brothers/The Skeleton Key five years ago, where Four Brothers surged past all expectations to become a surprise winner of that frame. Takers will likely not reach similar height, especially with fewer theaters, but the urban demographics is severely under-served this summer, and the tracking many times underestimated action films that targeted the demo. In fact, Takers' pre-release tracking was quite similar to what Brooklyn's Finest, which opened to $13.4m, and it has a better breakdown in Box Office Mojo poll. Despite of the poor reviews, a $15m+ opening is very much achievable, and that could be enough to win the weekend over The Last Exorcism.

Avatar: Special Edition is the wild card of the weekend. Re-release within a year or so of the original release and with blue-ray/DVD already available for several months tends to not do well, and some, like The Passion Recut ($0.224m opening in 957 theaters), failed spectacularly. However, James Cameron's films have shown the ability to not follow the rules. The advance sales are quite good, but the question is how much walk-in business it will get. My thinking is that it will have one of the highest, if not the highest, ratio of advance-ticket vs. walk-in buyers we have seen, because people who are interested in seeing the film this time mostly belong to two groups: 1) die-hard fans, who will buy tickets in advance regardless; 2) folks who missed out watching it in IMAX or 3D, and they certainly wouldn't want to risk making the same mistake again of having the show sold out and not being able to get in. For the rest of the mass, those families or friends who are casually deciding what movie to check out this weekend, the chance of picking Avatar over all the new films on the spot is small. Overall, the IMAX attendance should be strong, possibly on the level of The Polar Express' first re-release ($18,518 average in 66 IMAX screens), but 3D screens will see much more subdued business. Don't be surprised if IMAX format accounts for 40% or more of the gross.

With many schools starting earlier this week, the Friday increases for holdovers will see significant improvement if there are little changes in external factors (e.g. screen count, level of direct competition), and Saturday will be better by 10-20 percentage points too, although 40%+ decline will now become the norm for Sunday. Films which are on their third week or after should generally experience better weekend holds than their respective Wed-to-Wed holds. However, some will face a tougher task as both new openers are targeting mainly males and having only a PG-13 rating, not creating much chance for either sneak-in or spillover business. Specifically, look for Piranha 3D, Vampires Suck, and Lottery Ticket to get hit the hardest due to direct competition and mediocre word-of-mouth. Nanny McPhee and Eat Pray Love, on the other hand, are in the best position to stabilize well, with the former potentially seeing a sub-30% drop like Shorts did this weekend last year.


  1. Any particular reason for the higher prediction #'s for Avatar after you didn't see it making more than $4m earlier this week?

  2. The advance sales were strong enough for it not to flop, so I upped my lower and higher ends accordingly and went with the weighted middle.