Scotty G’s Box Office Predictions – Weekend of March 26th, 2010

Two new films go into wide release this weekend, and both have a realistic shot of overtaking Alice in Wonderland for the title of box office champion. How To Train Your Dragon and Hot Tub Time Machine are going after two different sets of demographics, so which one will triumph? Here’s how I see the weekend breaking down:

Paramount/Dreamworks look to have a big weekend with their animated feature How To Train Your Dragon. The story is about a weakling named Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) longing to be a Viking dragon slayer. No one gives him a chance, and his self-confidence is low. One thing he is good at is inventions, and he creates a machine that knocks a young dragon out of the sky. No one sees this happen, so he goes to kill the injured creature, and befriends it instead. Now knowing that dragons are not the evil creatures he has been led to believe, he tries to change the minds of fellow Vikings, so that dragons and Vikings can co-exist. Dreamworks has had a strong string of animated hits. Here are some of the recent “Non-Shrek” related releases:

2009 – Monsters vs. Aliens – $59.3 million opening weekend
2008 – Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa – $63.1 million opening weekend
2008 – Kung-Fu Panda – $60.2 million opening weekend
2007 – Bee Movie – $38 million opening weekend
2006 – Over The Hedge – $38.4 million opening weekend
2005 – Madagascar – $47.2 million opening weekend
2004 – Shark Tale – $47.6 million opening weekend

You can see that these animated films are no pushover at the box office. The one that is easiest to compare How To Train Your Dragon with is Monsters vs. Aliens because that film opened around this time a year ago. The film features an all-star voice cast that includes the previously mentioned Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, and Jonah Hill. How To Train Your Dragon is going to have a big weekend because Alice in Wonderland has been out for three weekends, so people will want to see something new. Diary of a Wimpy Kid should get crushed by the film this weekend, as I’m sure kids want to see the animated dragon film. How To Train Your Dragon is also opening in 3-D, which will add to the bottom line. It’s receiving rave reviews, as Rotten Tomatoes has the film listed at 95% positive. Opening in an ultra-wide 4,055 theatres, I’m predicting a gross of $75 million this weekend, and it will be the #1 film at the box office.

The other big release this weekend is Hot Tub Time Machine starring John Cusack. I’ll be honest, I think this is the best titled movie of the year, and films that have their plot explained by the title always bring a smile to my face. This film is hard to predict in terms of box office potential, because John Cusack is not a huge box office draw. His biggest hit is last year’s 2012, but people went to see the special effects, not John Cusack’s performance. Here is a list of some of Cusack’s films that started out in wide release, as well as a couple of other films that have titles that explain the film.

2009 – 2012 – $65.2 million opening weekend
2009 – The Hangover – $44.9 million opening weekend
2007 – 1408 – $20.6 million opening weekend
2006 – Snakes On A Plane – $13.8 million opening weekend
2005 – Must Love Dogs – $12.8 million opening weekend
2003 – Identity – $16.2 million opening weekend
2001 – Serendipity – $13.3 million opening weekend
2001 – America’s Sweethearts – $30.1 million opening weekend

The numbers are all over the place, so it is hard to gauge how I think Hot Tub Time Machine will do. It’s receiving some surprisingly good reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, as it currently has a rating of 69% positive. As much as I find the title funny, I know people think it is stupid and would not pay money to see it in theatres. The good thing for the film is that it has been awhile since we had a gross-out guy’s comedy for men (She’s Out Of My League was targeted to teenagers in my opinion). Women love John Cusack, so you should get a little boost from that. Opening in 2,754 theatres, I’m predicting an opening weekend gross of $24 million, and a 2nd place finish.

With How To Train Your Dragon and Hot Tub Time Machine both making the top five, two of last week’s films will be pushed out. Here’s how I think the remaining films will do:

Alice in Wonderland will fall out of 1st place and drop to 3rd place. The film has had drops around the 45% range in its 2nd and 3rd weekend. I’m going to say the drop will be a bit higher this weekend, as it will lose some screens on 3-D to How To Train Your Dragon. I’m predicting a drop of 49% for a gross of $17.3 million.

The Bounty Hunter has been the #2 film during the week, and will be in for a challenge this weekend, as the date crowd will be checking out Hot Tub Time Machine. Plus, The Bounty Hunter is a poorly reviewed film, so word-of-mouth is not likely to be strong. Falling 55%, I’m predicting a gross of $9.3 million and a 4th place finish.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid surprised me last weekend with its strong debut, but I think it is going to get slaughtered at the box office this weekend by How To Train Your Dragon. I have nothing to base this on except gut. Suffering a drop of 62%, I’m predicting a gross of $8.4 million and a 5th place finish.

There will be a battle for 6th place. Green Zone and She’s Out Of My League will fight it out, but I think Green Zone will come out on top because it is the only serious adult option currently theatres. I’m expecting a drop of 51% for Green Zone, giving it a gross of $2.9 million and a 6th place finish. She’s Out Of My League should drop by 57% for have a gross of $2.5 million for a 7th place finish.

Repo Men will not be a factor in its second weekend.

Opening in limited release, we have the following films:

Chloe is a thriller starring Julianne Moore, Amanda Seyfried, and Liam Neeson and is directed by Atom Egoyan. Moore’s character wants to find out if her husband (Neeson) is having an affair, so she hires Seyfried to find out. Rotten Tomatoes has the film listed at 52% positive, and the film is opening in 306 theatres.

Ca$h is also a thriller and it stars Sean Bean. The plot involves Bean and his wife having to do evil deeds all in the name of getting money. Rotten Tomatoes does not have a review percentage yet, and the film is opening in 27 theatres.

Waking Sleeping Beauty is a documentary about how Walt Disney Pictures animation department was able to get out of its creative lull in the 1980’s and started to make some of the most beloved films in the studio’s history such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. It also focuses on the role music played in the resurgence of Disney thanks to Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Rotten Tomatoes has the film listed at 81% positive, and the film is opening in 5 theatres.

Dancing Across Borders is a documentary that follows the life of Sokvannara (Sy) Sar, who was discovered in Cambodia in 2000, and how Sy gets involved in the world of ballet. Rotten Tomatoes has the film listed at 40% positive, and the film is opening in 1 theatre.

So to recap, here are my predictions:

1) How To Train Your Dragon – $75 million
2) Hot Tub Time Machine – $24 million
3) Alice in Wonderland – $17.3 million
4) The Bounty Hunter – $9.3 million
5) Diary of a Wimpy Kid – $8.4 million

Remember to check back on Sunday to see how I did!

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