Scotty G’s Box Office Predictions – Weekend of January 14th, 2011

We get our first big head-to-head battle of 2011 with two new releases going after two different audiences. Sony offers up the action film The Green Hornet with Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz and Christoph Waltz and is directed by Michel Gondry while Universal counters with the comedy The Dilemma starring Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Winona Ryder and Jennifer Connelly and it is directed by Ron Howard. True Grit will also try to repeat as champion, although it does not look likely it will even finish in 2nd place. Lots of films debut in limited release today, although only one is a real Oscar hopeful. We could get our first major hit of 2011 this weekend, but we’ll have to see how the box office turns out. Here is how I see the weekend breaking down:

Vince Vaughn and Kevin James team up in the comedy The Dilemma. The film is about a pair of best friends leading perfect lives, until the Vince Vaughn character catches Kevin James’ wife (played by Winona Ryder) cheating on him, when Vaughn’s character catches sight of Ryder’s character kissing another man. This poses the dilemma that the title refers to, as the Vaughn character doesn’t know whether or not to tell his best friend that his wife is cheating on him. The pedigree of the film is top notch with Jennifer Connelly also in the film, Brian Grazer producing and Ron Howard directing. When I think about the film, it really feels like they are selling Vaughn and James, which turns out to be a smart move because their recent box office history shows that they are pretty sure things when it comes to opening weekends. See below:

2005 – Hitch – $43.1 million opening weekend
2005 – Wedding Crashers – $33.9 million opening weekend
2006 – The Break-Up – $39.1 million opening weekend
2007 – I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry – $34.2 million opening weekend
2007 – Fred Claus – $18.5 million opening weekend
2008 – Four Christmases – $31.0 million opening weekend
2009 – Paul Blart: Mall Cop – $31.8 million opening weekend
2009 – Couples Retreat – $34.2 million opening weekend
2010 – Grown Ups – $40.5 million opening weekend

Average Opening Weekend – $34.03 million

The average is right around where I think the film will end up, so I’m playing it pretty safe this weekend. What might hurt the film are the reviews, which are negative. The positive is that I think that comedies play well at this time of year, and I just have to look at Paul Blart: Mall Cop as an example, as it went on to gross $146.3 million, even though it opened in January, which is considered a dumping ground. As of this writing, The Dilemma has a 28% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences like the two lead actors in the film and that will be the draw for moviegoers this weekend. Opening in 2,941 theatres, I’m predicting that The Dilemma will gross $33 million and finish in 1st place at the box office.

The other major new release of the weekend is The Green Hornet with Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz and Christoph Waltz. The film, which is based on the character that first debuted in radio serials of the 1930’s, follows Britt Reid, a spoiled tycoon whose father is killed. Britt changes his easy-going lifestyle and dedicates his life to running his father’s newspaper by day and become a masked avenger at night to rid the streets of crime, along with his sidekick Kato. Rogen and Chou play Reid and Kato while Christoph Waltz plays the villain. The film received a lot of negative buzz before it even started filming, but it has undergone quite a lot of changes since then. Entertainment Weekly had a great article in a recent issue about all the people who were attached to the project at one point and then departed (the EW article mentions that Nicolas Cage was going to be the villain at one point and wanted to do a Jamaican accent). During the 2010 Comic-Con, buzz was also negative as the audience did not seem to like what they were shown. Sony has ramped up its marketing, and the film seems to be more in the public eye this weekend, and surprisingly the negative buzz seems to be going away. The film is being sold on Seth Rogen, and while Seth has been the lead in some films before, he is probably under the most pressure with this film to be a hit. What surprised me is that Rogen does all right at the box office (and I’m a Seth Rogen fan, so I was surprised in a good way). See below:

2007 – Knocked Up – $30.6 million opening weekend
2007 – Superbad – $33 million opening weekend
2008 – Pineapple Express – $23.2 million opening weekend
2008 – Zack and Miri Make a Porno – $10 million opening weekend
2009 – Observe and Report – $11 million opening weekend
2009 – Funny People – $22.6 million opening weekend
2010 – Kick-Ass – $19.8 million opening weekend

Average Opening Weekend – $21.4 million

I added Kick-Ass in the mix, even though it doesn’t star Rogen, but it had a similar vibe to it, as it is not a well-known superhero, and it also was an origin story. The average listed above is about where I see The Green Hornet ending up this weekend. It hurts to say that because it is being shown in 3-D and it is getting the largest theatre count of the two new releases this weekend, but I just think that people want to laugh more than see an action film right now (As I said in my estimate of The Dilemma, Paul Blart: Mall Cop opened in January of 2009 and was a major hit. Name the last action film that opened in January and was a big hit? Yeah, I couldn’t do it either). Reviews for The Green Hornet are better than The Dilemma but not by much, as Rotten Tomatoes has the film listed at 41% positive as of this writing. I think the reviews will play a bigger factor for The Green Hornet than The Dilemma and because of that I’m predicting that The Green Hornet, with a theatre count of 3,584 will gross $23 million and finish in 2nd place.

With The Dilemma and The Green Hornet entering the top five, I’m predicting that Season of the Witch and Tron: Legacy will be leaving the top five. What may surprise you is that I think that Little Fockers will also be exiting the top five this weekend, as a critical darling goes into wider release this weekend, which I think will put it in the top five. Here is how I see the rest of the films breaking down:

True Grit will only be the box office champion for one week, as I’m predicting the two new releases will make more money this weekend than True Grit did last weekend. It is still the choice for adults in theatres right now, and I think it will hold up well because of that fact. I’m predicting a drop of 35% giving True Grit a gross of $9.5 million and a 3rd place finish.

Black Swan will see its theatre count go up this weekend from 1,584 to 2,328, which will help it move up one spot in the standings from last weekend. I’m predicting a rise of 5% this weekend for Black Swan (risky I know), as I think the film will gross $8.5 million and finish in 4th place.

The King’s Speech ups its theatre count once again as it goes from 758 theatres to 1,543. The film should perform much like Black Swan and post a slight percentage increase from weekend to weekend. I’m predicting that The King’s Speech will rise 11% from last weekend, giving the film a gross of $7.1 million and a 5th place finish.

Little Fockers will continue to slip at the box office, and will definitely take a bigger hit than expected with The Dilemma entering theatres. I’m predicting that Little Fockers will fall 55% giving it a gross of $6 million and a 6th place finish.

Tron: Legacy will suffer this weekend with the release of The Green Hornet as action fans will want to see the newer release over the Disney sci-fi epic. I’m predicting that Tron: Legacy will drop 44%, giving the film a 7th place finish and a gross of $5.6 million.

The Fighter is starting to lose some steam with audiences, but should put in another solid effort this weekend. I’m predicting a drop of 33% from last weekend giving The Fighter a gross of $4.7 million and an 8th place finish.

Season of the Witch will most likely take a beating this weekend. The worst reviewed film of 2011 (it’s early I know) did not gain any fans from actual movie-goers, so word-of-mouth is low, and there are already better options in theatres. I’m predicting that Season of the Witch will drop 67% from last weekend, giving the film a gross of $3.9 million and a 9th place finish.

10th place will be a battle between Country Strong and Yogi Bear and I’m going to give the slight advantage to Yogi Bear as there are not too many options for kids to go see a film in theatres right now. I’m predicting Yogi Bear will drop 46%, giving the film a gross of $3.5 million and a 10th place finish, and I’m predicting that Country Strong will drop 54% giving the film a gross of $3.4 million and an 11th place finish.

In limited release:

The Heart Specialist – This dramedy is about an intern who comes to work at a hospital to win back the girl he loves. The Heart Specialist is being released in 422 theatres and does not have any reviews posted at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

Barney’s Version – Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman star in this film based on the book by Mordecai Richler and it follows the live of Barney Panofsky through the best of times, and more often than not, the worst of times. Barney’s Version is being released in 4 theatres (it has been out in Canada for a little while, but is getting its U.S. release this weekend) and has a 79% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

Ong Bak 3: The Final Battle – This film wraps up the martial arts trilogy with Tony Jaa, and picks up almost immediately from where the second film left off. Ong Bak 3: The Final Battle is being released in 3 theatres and the film does not have any reviews posted at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

Every Day – Helen Hunt, Live Schreiber, Brian Dennehy, and Carla Gugino star in this dramedy about a family dealing with the ups and downs of life (a common theme this week it seems), especially when a grandfather moves in with the family. Every Day is being released in 3 theatres and has a 44% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

Plastic Planet – This documentary focuses on the dangers of plastic and how dependent humans are on plastic products. Plastic Planet is being released in one theatre and the documentary has a 60% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

A Somewhat Gentle Man – This drama stars Stellan Skarsgard and is about a criminal getting out of prison (reluctantly) and having to deal with the people from his past wanting revenge on the snitch that put Skarsgard’s character in prison. A Somewhat Gentle Man is being released in one theatre and the film has a 75% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

Twelve Thirty – This film is about a broken family and a young man who enters their lives and may quite possibly bring the family together again. Twelve Thirty is being released in one theatre and the film does not have any reviews posted at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

Blue Valentine with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams will be upping its theatre count from 40 theatres to 230 theatres, so expect it to post another strong weekend.

Rabbit Hole with Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart will also be upping its theatre count from 34 theatres to 100 theatres.

So to recap, here are my predictions:

The Dilemma – $33 million
The Green Hornet – $23 million
True Grit – $9.5 million
Black Swan – $8.5 million
The King’s Speech – $7.1 million

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

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