Scotty G’s Box Office Predictions – Weekend of December 24th, 2010

Two comedies and a remake get released in theatres this weekend, with the hope of dethroning Tron:  Legacy from the top of the box office.  For fans of comedy, there is the sequel Little Fockers with Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro, as well as Gulliver’s Travels starring Jack Black.  For the more adult audiences, True Grit with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon gets released in theatres.  Not surprisingly, True Grit is receiving glowing reviews while the two comedies are being savaged by critics.  It will be interesting to see how the top five rounds out this weekend as audiences will come out in droves to support their favourite films.  Here’s how I see things breaking down:

True Grit is a remake of the classic film by the Coen Brothers.  Jeff Bridges plays the iconic John Wayne role, while Matt Damon and Josh Brolin co-star in the film.  The plot can best be described as a revenge story.  A young girl’s father is murdered and she hires a U.S. Marshal to track down the killer.  When coming up with my prediction, I decided just to look at the opening weekends of Coen Brothers films.  What I found surprising is that only two Coen Brothers films have had an opening weekend release of over 2,000 theatres.  Here are those two films and how they did on their opening weekend:
2003 – Intolerable Cruelty – $12.5 million opening weekend // 2,564 theatre count
2008 – Burn After Reading – $19.1 million opening weekend // 2,651 theatre count
Average Opening Weekend – $15.8 million
It was smart to have True Grit start off in wide release, as the film has its followers from the original film and audiences like Jeff Bridges.  Bridges may be the leading actor in two of the top three films this weekend.  Critics love the film as Rotten Tomatoes has it listed at 95% positive.  Opening in 3,047
theatres, I’m predicting that True Grit will open in 3rd place with a gross of $25 million, giving the Coen Brothers their best opening weekend gross ever.
Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro team up once again for the comedy sequel Little Fockers.  This time around, Stiller and De Niro are battling over how to raise Stiller’s kid.  This installment brings back the cast from the first two films, but there is a different director on board for this installment (Paul Weitz takes over from Jay Roach).  Reviews have been disastrous as Rotten Tomatoes lists the film at 11% positive, and even though I believe this to be the big movie of the Christmas season, I don’t think a lot of people are excited by it.  It will definitely not reach the levels of the second film in terms of opening weekend gross, and I think it will barely eclipse the first film’s opening weekend.  Here is how the first two films did on their opening weekend:
2000 – Meet the Parents – $28.6 million opening weekend
2004 – Meet the Fockers – $46.1 million opening weekend
Average Opening Weekend – $37.35 million.
The film is getting the highest theatre count of the three new releases with 3,536.  I’m predicting that Little Fockers will debut in 1st place with a gross of $31 million, but it will not be buzzed about as much as the other two installments.
The final new release of the weekend actually opens on Saturday and that is the Jack Black adventure comedy Gulliver’s Travels.  The film is a modern update of the classic story with Jack Black playing the lead character who is now a travel writer who goes to write a piece on Bermuda.  Instead, he winds up on the island of Liliput, where he is a giant, as the people who live in Liliput are about the size of a finger, which of course leads to comic (mis)adventures.  I don’t find the trailer for the film to be all that funny even though I am a fan of Jack Black.  Critics are giving the film better reviews than Little Fockers, but that is a back-handed compliment as Gulliver’s Travels is listed at 21% positive.  Jack Black films are not known as strong performers at the box office on their opening weekend.  Last year, when Year One came out, it only had an opening weekend gross of $19.6 million.  On the plus side, the film is around 1h25m in length, which should give it more screenings, but the negative is that it loses a day by opening on Saturday and it is only being released in 2,546 theatres, which tells me that Fox does not have a lot of faith in the film.  I’m predicting a 4th place finish for Gulliver’s Travels with a gross of $16 million.
With True Grit, Little Fockers and Gulliver’s Travels entering the top five this weekend, I’m predicting that The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Tangled and Yogi Bear will be leaving the top five. Here’s how I see the rest of the films finishing:
Tron:  Legacy does not seem to have the buzz that Disney hoped it would after its first weekend, so I’m predicting a drop of 35% (a generous drop, but I think the Christmas weekend will help it out) and gross $28.6 million, giving Tron:  Legacy a 2nd place finish.
The Fighter will be in tough this weekend as adult audiences will also be interested in seeing True Grit, but The Fighter has received lots of acclaim from critics and that will help it this weekend.  I’m predicting a 23% drop giving The Fighter a gross of $9.3 million and a 5thplace finish.
Yogi Bear also looks to get lost in the shuffle this weekend as there are too many better options for audiences to see in theatres right now.  I’m predicting that Yogi Bear will drop 46%, giving the film a gross of $8.8 million and a 6th place finish.
The Chronicles of Narnia will definitely lose the family audience this weekend to the two new comedies, and because of that, I’m predicting a drop of 37% giving The Chronicles of Narnia a gross of $7.7 million and a 7th place finish.
The next three films will be battling for the 8, 9 and 10 spots this weekend.  They are:
Black Swan continues to receive awards and lots of attention is being focused on Natalie Portman, who seems to be the front runner to win Best Actress at the Academy Awards.  I’m predicting a drop of 31%, giving Black Swan a gross of $5.7 million and an 8th place finish.
Tangled has been out for over a month now, and audiences will want to see new films this weekend over films that have been out for awhile.  With that reasoning, I’m predicting a 38% drop for Tangled giving the film a gross of $5.3 million and a 9th place finish.
The Tourist rounds out the top ten as I’m predicting a drop of 42% giving the film a gross of $4.9 million and a 10th place finish.
In limited release:
Country Strong – This film stars Gwyneth Paltrow as a former country singer trying to make a comeback.  The film is being released in 2 theatres and has a 22% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

The Illusionist – This animated film is about an illusionist who is seeing his popularity decrease as rock concerts become more popular in the 1950’s.  He meets a young girl named Alice, and impresses her by conjuring up gifts for her.  She thinks he is making them out of thin air, but to keep her impressed he is actually buying them first and then making them appear.  The more he wants to impress her, the more elaborate the gift is, which puts him into more and more debt.  The film is being released in 3 theatres and has a 91% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.
Somewhere – This film is from director Sofia Coppola and stars Stephen Dorff as a celebrity living a care-free existence at a Los Angeles hotel, until his daughter shows up at the hotel to stay with him.  He has to decide whether to continue his lifestyle or put his daughter’s life before his.  The film is being released in 2 theatres and has a 77% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.
Tees Maar Khan – This film is about a group of thieves trying to pull off the heist of a lifetime.  The film does not have an official theatre count and has yet to be reviewed at Rotten Tomatoes.
So to recap, here are my predictions:
  1. Little Fockers – $31 million 
  2. Tron:  Legacy – $28.6 million 
  3. True Grit – $25 million 
  4. Gulliver’s Travels – $16 million
  5. The Fighter – $9.3 million

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

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