Friday, August 12, 2011

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Aug 12 - 14): The Help, Final Destination 5, 30 Minutes or Less, Glee

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes26.2-52.2%
2. The Help21.0$8,363 PTA
3. Final Destination 520.0$6,339 PTA
4. 30 Minutes or Less15.0$5,194 PTA
5. The Smurfs13.0-37.2%
6. Glee The 3D Concert Movie10.0$4,902 PTA
7. Cowboys & Aliens7.0-55.5%
8. Crazy, Stupid, Love.6.9-42.6%
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 26.8-45.4%
10. Captain America: The First Avenger6.2-52.4%
11. The Change-Up5.1-62.3%

The Help was off to an excellent start on Wednesday, grossing $5.5m. Here are the opening-day-to-opening-weekend multipliers for some of the past August Wednesday openers:

Vampire Sucks - 3.04
Pineapple Express - 1.92
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 - 1.86
Tropic Thunder - 3.97
World Trade Center - 4.20
The Princess Diaries 2 - 2.71
Freaky Friday - 3.70

The popularity of the book could mean some frontloadedness, but the appeal to older females and African American demo could in turn offset the effect. Another important factor to note is that the film received an A+ CinemaScore. In most circumstances, CinemaScore isn't necessarily a reliable tool of judging the audience's reaction, but when it reaches A+ (or below B on the opposite end), it definitely means something. The film is a crowd-pleaser, and we could be witnessing a The Blind Side (another A+ CinemaScore recipient) type of run brewing, albeit on a smaller scale since the opening would not be as large. Look for a Wed-to-OW multiplier in the upper half of what those other films listed received. Then it could have an overall multiplier of 6 for a $130m+ total.

Final Destination is one of the very rare franchises to see each of the new films improve upon its predecessor in term of opening, with the last one setting new height of $27.4m thanks to 3D screens. However, the environment is not as friendly this time around. The interest appears lower, as indicated by the Box Office Mojo poll: its 15.3% OW is a few levels below The Final Destination's 21.1% and even a little lower than Final Destination 3's 16.3%. The popularity of 3D has also declined significantly since two years ago. While 3D screens accounted for 70% of The Final Destination's opening gross, they will not touch 50% for FD5. As a result, a start closer to the third one's $19.2m is more likely.

30 Minutes or Less is the second collaboration between director Ruben Fleisher and actor Jesse Eisenberg, after the success of Zombieland. Eisenberg has become more well known after his Oscar-nominated turn in The Social Network, but we are reaching a serious level of comedy fatigue, as it is the 7th R-rated comedy of the summer. Last weekend, The Change-Up suffered and opened to a underwhelming $13.5m. While 30 Minutes or Less has better BOM poll numbers (13.9% OW vs. 9.6%), I would not expect a much stronger start, especially since it has to face Final Destination 5, a direct competition.

Glee is the wild card of the weekend. Unlike other 3D concert movies such as Justin Bieber, Jonas Brothers, or Miley Cyrus, Glee is an ensemble from a popular TV show and doesn't offer one star with a rabid fanbase. The question remains how many regular viewers of the free show will turn up to see the movie. Sill, with 2,040 theaters, it doesn't require a big percentage of them to achieve double-digit.

Unless the word-of-mouth carries The Help to an even more potent weekend, Rise of the Planet of the Apes should have no trouble claiming the pole position again. However, the midweek so far has not indicated a splendid sophomore hold is in play, as its Tuesday and Wednesday holds were not much different from what Captain America and Cowboys & Aliens got. With better WOM and two new R-rated films creating sneak-in business, its Friday should be strong, likely over 70%; then a 3.3 IM will put its weekend around $26m. That would still be plenty good for a $50m+ opener.

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