Friday, September 2, 2011

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Sep 2 - 5): Apollo 18, The Debt, Shark Night 3D

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. The Help17.2+18.6%
2. Apollo 1812.5$3,756 PTA
3. The Debt10.5$5,750 PTA
4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes8.8-0.8%
5. Shark Night 3D8.0$2,851 PTA
6. Colombiana7.5-27.9%
7. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World7.0+16.5%
8. The Smurfs6.0+26.3%
9. Our Idiot Brother4.7-33.0%
10. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark4.5-47.2%


Of the three new wide releases, Apollo 18 stands the best chance of unseating The Help as the No. 1 film of the weekend. However, after some initial good reactions to its first trailer, Weinstein has failed to capitalize on them on the marketing front; instead, the film got pushed back to its current date, and the interests have gradually subsided. Its 11% Opening Weekend figure at Box Office Mojo poll is mediocre for a horror movie that crosses into the sci-fi genre. The one positive is its PG-13 rating, given all the recent openers appealing to the 13-25 male demo have been R-rated (Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Our Idiot Brother, Conan the Barbarian, Fright Night, etc). The situation is similar to when Babylon A.D. opened in 2008, and we could see a similar adjusted gross as the result.

The immediate comparison to Shark Night 3D would be Piranha 3D, but unfortunately for the former, the 3D appeal has dropped so much this year that not only it no longer provides a boost to a film's PTA, it may have become a hindrance as people who could not find 2D showings at their preferred theaters may decide not to see the film at all. Also unlike Piranha 3D, there is no abundance of nudity in Shark Night as a headline attraction. The Box Office Mojo poll reflects the difference, as Shark Night 3D's 9.6% OW interest pales against Piranha 3D's 17.4%. In the end, it may not even get a $3,000 PTA over the first 4 days.  

The Debt opened to $0.970532m on Wednesday. While the number may not appear all that impressive on the first glance, it is in fact quite good when we compare against past Wednesday openers on the Labor Day weekend:

MovieWednesday (m)4-Day Weekend (m)Wed-to-OW Multiplier
The American1.67436316.6622339.95
Traitor0.79221410.00632712.63
Balls of Fury1.69114.1114548.35
The Constant Gardener0.92982910.96131111.79
Vanity Fair0.5998256.26892510.45

The American had higher pre-release buzz and then suffered from poor word-of-mouth, while Balls of Fury skewed younger males, so a 10+ multiplier like the other three films did should be achievable for The Debt. That will put its 4-day weekend at over $10m and give it a 6-day start of over $12m.

With Hurricane Irene hurting last weekend's box office and the weakness of new openers, we could expect holdovers to experience healthier holds comparing to past Labor Day frames. Given the Labor Day history, older-female oriented films like The Help and family films such as Spy Kids and The Smurfs should see the best holds.

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