Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Sep 16 - 18): The Lion King 3D, Drive, I Don't Know How She Does It, Straw Dogs

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. The Lion King 3D22.0$9,442 PTA
2. Contagion12.0-46.4%
3. Drive11.5$3,985 PTA
4. I Don't Know How She Does It7.0$2,827 PTA
5. The Help6.3-29.4%
6. Straw Dogs5.7$2,367 PTA
7. The Warrior2.8-46.6%
8. The Debt2.7-43.4%
9. Rise of the Planet of the Apes2.3-40.8%
10. Colombiana2.1-46.8%

What was supposed to be a close race for the top spot is turning out to be not the case at all, as The Lion King 3D is blowing away its competitors in terms of advance sales and number of tweets. By Thursday afternoon, it accounted for 62% of Fandango sales, simply a remarkable figure for this time of the year. Its tweets reached 10,000 on Wednesday alone. On the Box Office Mojo front, 18% of voters say they will see it on the opening weekend. That is a bit lower than what the 3D re-release of Toy Story/Toy Story 2 received - 22.9%; however, the TS re-release was a double-feature, which limited the amount of showings it could have per day as well as its family appeals, since the kids will have great difficulty sitting in theater for 3 hours. The Lion King will not have such problem, and it will maintain Toy Story's nostalgia factor. If we just look at the 18%, it is an excellent number for a family film. On the same weekend two years ago, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs turned 13.9% OW interest into a $30.3m start. The Lion King does not have the theater count to match that start, but it could get close to a $10,000 per-theater-average, as the Toy Story double-feature re-release achieved $7K PTA while playing an average of only 3 showings per day. It is true that 3D is nowhere near as popular as two years ago, but The Lion King will also be played in some 2D screens to alleviate the concern.

For a while, it looks like Drive may suffer a similar fate as Warrior did last week, a superbly-reviewed film not able to attract the audience it deserves. However, as the week progresses, its prospect is becoming better and better. The OW interest at BOM poll jumped from around 19% on Monday to 23.8% by Thursday night. Also the Never percentage is below 30%, indicating people are open to check out the film, and the excellent reviews (93%/8.3 average at RottenTomatoes, 81 with 6 100s at Metacritic) could convince last-minute deciders to propel its opening higher. The big jump in theater count from originally estimated 2,400 to 2,886 exhibits FilmDistrict's confidence, and it finally entered Fandango's advance sales list on Thursday with 3%, a figure that will continue to improve into the weekend.

Weinstein Company has not aggressively marketed I Don't Know How She Does It, and the awareness and interests are not very high as a result. Its BOM poll shows a paltry 2.2% for the portion of voters who are interested in seeing it the opening weekend; although people may argue BOM demo is as far away from the film's targeted audience as possible, we could still compare it with films of similar demo, and the number trails the ones from others such as Did You Hear About the Morgans (5.0% OW, $6.6m opening), Love Happens (5.4% OW, $8.1m opening), and The Women (4.0% OW, $10.1m opening). The appeal for this film does appear to skew even more females than usual, and there has not been a female-oriented comedy in a while, so some upside surprise to a $3,000+ PTA could occur.

Among the four new wide releases, Straw Dogs has the weakest outlook. Last week demonstrated yet again when Major Theater Chain tracking came in way below ReelSource's, the final outcome will most likely be even weaker than MTC's forecast, and Straw Dogs essentially matched Warrior's tracking with mid-teen from RS and $8m from MTC. In addition, it still had not cracked the top 5 in Fandango's advance sales by Thursday afternoon, quite terrible for a R-rated thriller, and any time a R-rated film of this genre is unable to grab over 10% OW from the BOM poll, it will have trouble exceeding $3,000 PTA.

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