Scotty G’s Box Office Predictions – Weekend of December 17th, 2010

Three major films come out this weekend with the goal of overtaking The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader from the #1 spot. All three films have realistic shots at grossing more than the $24 million that The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader on its opening weekend, but what new release will come out on top: Tron: Legacy, Yogi Bear or How Do You Know? A couple of buzzed about films go into wider release this weekend, and both have realistic shots of being in the top five. For the first time in a long time, all five films in the top five could be different from last weekend. Here’s how I see the weekend breaking down:

Yogi Bear is the newest release this weekend with the highest theatre count, so I’ll start off with it. The film is a mixture of CGI and live action and follows everyone’s favourite bears in Jellystone Park (Yogi and Boo-Boo) as they cause havoc to the visitors by stealing their food, while trying to stay out of the way of Ranger Smith. Unfortunately for Yogi, Boo-Boo and Ranger Smith, the mayor decides to shut down the park permanently and the three of them have to team up to save Jellystone Park. Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake voice Yogi and Boo-Boo respectively and Warner Bros. is hoping for an opening weekend on par with another CGI / live-action franchise. That franchise is 20th Century Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks. Heck, they would be happy with Garfield’s opening weekend I’m sure. Here’s a look at how the two franchises have done in theatres:

2009 – Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel – $48.8 million
2007 – Alvin and the Chipmunks – $44.3 million
2006 – Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties – $7.2 million
2004 – Garfield: The Movie – $21.7 million

Average Opening Weekend – $30.5 million

That average is not where I see Yogi Bear finishing this weekend. On the plus side for Yogi Bear I would say that people discounted the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise when it got released around this time of year three years ago, but both Alvin and the Chipmunks films were hits, so Yogi Bear could follow in those footsteps. Yogi Bear also has a very short running time of 1h22m, which means that the film is going to get more screenings in a day than the other new releases, and that can only help its gross. Critics will not have much of an impact on this film, but as of right now Rotten Tomatoes is listing the film at 12% positive. Still, I don’t think there is that much excitement about Yogi Bear and although I’m sure I’ll be eating my words on Monday, I’m predicting a lower gross for Yogi Bear than maybe some other analysts. Opening in 3,515 theatres, I’m predicting that Yogi Bear will gross $22 million and finish in 2nd place.

The highest profile release of the weekend is Tron: Legacy and it should do an absolute killing at theatres this weekend. The sequel to the cult classic picks up 20 years after the first film. Kevin Flynn’s (played by Jeff Bridges) son Sam (played by Garrett Hedlund) is still dealing with the mysterious disappearance of his father. One night, Sam goes to Flynn’s arcade to search for clues, and he accidentally is transported into the world of “The Grid”. Sam eventually meets his father, but they have to stop a hacking program (played by Jeff Bridges again, that uses some amazing special effects to make him look as young as he did in the original Tron) from thwarting their escape. I could not think of film to compare Tron: Legacy too, but I’m going to show you my thought process when coming up with the prediction. I could use The Matrix Trilogy, Avatar or even Star Trek as benchmarks, but nothing seemed to fit. Tron: Legacy is a sequel to a cult film from almost thirty years ago. It does have a built-in audience like The Matrix Trilogy, but because of the sequel being made so much later from the original, it didn’t seem to fit. It’s not a completely original idea like Avatar was, because of the fact that it is a sequel using characters we know, and it’s not a re-boot like Star Trek. So I’m not going to compare to any other films opening weekends for my prediction. Tron: Legacy does have a lot going for it: First, it has the Disney marketing machine behind it, which is making sure every man, woman and child know about this film. Second, it looks unique and unlike anything in theatres, which can only help it. Lastly, it’s being shown in IMAX 3-D and regular 3-D which means higher ticket prices. Critics will not play a major impact on the film, but for fun we’ll see what they think of Tron: Legacy anyways. As of this writing, Rotten Tomatoes has Tron: Legacy listed at 49% positive. Debuting in 3,451 theatres, I’m predicting that Tron: Legacy will open with a gross of $55 million, giving it a 1st place finish.

The other new release of the weekend is the James L. Brooks dramedy How Do You Know. The film stars Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson and focuses on a romantic triangle between Witherspoon, Rudd and Wilson. The pedigree of the film is great, and all these actors can open films at the box office. I’m taking a selection of some of their work, as well as that of James L. Brooks in coming up with my opening weekend prediction. The films I’m using for my prediction are:

2010 – Dinner for Schmucks – $23.5 million
2009 – I Love You, Man – $17.8 million
2008 – Marley and Me – $36.3 million
2004 – Spanglish – $8.8 million
2002 – Sweet Home Alabama – $35.6 million
1997 – As Good As It Gets – $12.6 million

Average Opening Weekend – $22.4 million

Unfortunately, I don’t think that How Do You Know has the buzz to do great things at the box office this weekend. It was snubbed during this week’s Golden Globe nominations, and has not received a lot of early buzz. Rotten Tomatoes have the film listed at 27% positive as of this writing, which is not good news for the adult driven film as adults tend to listen to what the critics have to say. I just don’t see How Do You Know making a huge dent at the box office. Opening in 2,483 theatres, I’m predicting that How Do You Know will gross $10 million and finish in 5th place.

This weekend a couple of films will be expanding their theatre count. The first to do so is a film that is receiving a lot of acclaim. The boxing drama The Fighter with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale is about the early life of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward, as he struggles to rise in the world of professional boxing. The film had a very solid first weekend in limited release grossing just over $300,000 from 4 theatres in its first weekend. Paramount is going for a rapid expansion this weekend as the theatre count is rising from 4 to 2,200. That boost, as well as the goodwill the film has received from audiences and critics in a short period of time will get The Fighter into the top five with a gross of $12 million and a 4th place film.

Black Swan is also receiving lots of acclaim, mainly for the performance of its star Natalie Portman, and Fox Searchlight is hoping that the buzz the film has gained in limited release as well as the critical accolades Black Swan has going for it will lead to a solid weekend. Black Swan is expanding from 90 theatres to 950 theatres, and that bump should keep the film in exactly the same spot as last weekend (its funny how that works because the gross for Black Swan will definitely be higher this weekend than it was last weekend). I’m predicting that Black Swan will gross $8.5 million and finishes in 6th place.

With Tron: Legacy, Yogi Bear, How Do You Know and The Fighter entering the top five this weekend, I’m predicting that The Tourist, Tangled, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One and Unstoppable will be leaving the top five. Here’s how I see rest of the films finishing:

The Chronicles of Narnia had an absolutely disappointing debut last weekend, and this weekend does not look much better with Tron: Legacy coming in with more hype and taking away some of the very valuable 3-D theatres. The second weekend has not been kind to The Chronicles of Narnia franchise, as here is how the first two films in the franchise have done:

2005 – The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – $31.8 million second weekend/51.4% second weekend drop
2008 – Prince Caspian – $22.7 million second weekend/58.6% second weekend drop

Average Second Weekend Gross – $27.25 million
Average Second Weekend Percentage Drop – 55%

What is going to help The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader this weekend is the fact that the opening weekend gross was so much lower than the first two films that I don’t think the percentage drop off will be as big as its predecessors. I’m predicting that The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader will drop 47%, giving it a gross of $12.7 million and a 3rd place finish.

Tangled continues to hold up well, but does face new competition from Tron: Legacy and Yogi Bear in terms of the new releases stealing some of Tangled’s theatres and audience, especially theatres that have 3-D. Still, it is the only major animated film in release (I’m not counting Yogi Bear as animated because of the hybrid factor of animation and live action). I predict that Tangled will drop 43% giving it a gross of $8.1 million and finish in 7th place.

The Tourist was another film that debuted way below expectations considering the talent involved. The Angelina Jolie//Johnny Depp thriller grossed $16.4 million on its opening weekend, which was not even half of the opening weekend of Angelina Jolie’s Salt. This tells me that interest by adults in The Tourist is not strong, and I think that audiences will want to check out the more acclaimed films going into wider release like Black Swan and The Fighter. Those acclaimed releases will cut into the gross of The Tourist which leads me to believe that The Tourist will drop 54%, giving The Tourist a gross of $7.5 million and an 8th place finish.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part One continues to drop at a rapid pace, but if the history of the franchise shows anything, it is that week five tends to be kind to the series. Here’s how the franchise has performed on its fifth weekend:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – $9.9 million / Down 32.7%
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – $6.3 million / Down 37.3%
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – $5.9 million / Down 47.2%
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – $5.9 million / Down 42%
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – $5.4 million / Down 43%
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – $5.1 million / Down 42.4%

Average Fifth Weekend Gross – $6.4 million
Average Fifth Weekend Percentage Drop – 40.7%

I think the fifth weekend percentage drop will be on the higher end again (didn’t I say that last week) as I’m predicting a 46% drop, which would give Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part One a gross of $4.5 million and a 9th place finish.

Unstoppable will round out the top ten this weekend as I’m predicting a drop of 45% giving Unstoppable a gross of $2 million and a 10th place finish.

In limited release:

Rabbit Hole – This film stars Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart and is about a couple dealing with the death of their young son. The film is being released in 5 theatres and has an 82% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

Casino Jack – Kevin Spacey stars in a film about the rise and fall of lobbyist Jack Abramoff back in 2006. The film is being released in 9 theatres and has a 42% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

So to recap, here are my predictions:

Tron: Legacy – $55 million
Yogi Bear – $22 million
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – $12.7 million
The Fighter – $12 million
How Do You Know – $10 million

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

Leave a Reply