Scotty G’s Box Office Predictions – Weekend of January 28th, 2011

No Strings Attached was the surprise box office champion at the box office last weekend, and this weekend it takes on two films from entirely different genres. Jason Statham stars in the action-thriller The Mechanic while Anthony Hopkins stars in the horror film The Rite. This will prove to be a tight battle at the box office as I think the number one film will be grossing less than $15 million this weekend. In limited release, cinephiles will want to check out the film Biutiful to see Javier Bardem’s Academy Award nominated performance. Here’s how I see the weekend breaking down:

Jason Statham returns to the type of films he does best (not the he ever left, but in his last film The Expendables, he was not the headliner on it) in The Mechanic. The film follows a mechanic (which means assassin) dealing with the death of his mentor (played by Donald Sutherland). His mentor’s son tracks him down and wants to be trained as a mechanic as well, so he can exact revenge on his father’s murderer. Reluctantly, Statham takes the son under his wing and teaches him how to kill people. The plot sounds like most Statham offerings, but when the man is headlining a film, he can command a pretty steady opening weekend gross. When coming up with my prediction, I just used the films of Jason Statham where he was the main actor and the film had a theatre count above 2,000. Here’s how those films did on their opening weekend:

2002 – The Transporter – $9.1 million opening weekend
2005 – Transporter 2 – $16.5 million opening weekend
2006 – Crank – $10.4 million opening weekend
2007 – War – $9.8 million opening weekend
2008 – Death Race – $12.6 million opening weekend
2008 – Transporter 3 – $12 million opening weekend
2009 – Crank: High Voltage – $6.9 million opening weekend

Average Opening Weekend – $11 million

Excitement around The Mechanic is about what you would expect for a January release, which means there’s not very much momentum for the film. The film is getting mixed reviews, as Rotten Tomatoes has The Mechanic listed at 51% positive. The producers hope that word-of-mouth will be strong to help it in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, that will not help its opening weekend. Opening in 2,703 theatres, I’m predicting that The Mechanic will open in 2nd place with a gross of $10.5 million.

The Rite stars Anthony Hopkins as a priest who specializes in exorcisms. The plot of the film focuses on a young seminary student who goes to Rome to study exorcisms. The young student thinks that the devil is not responsible for making people act the way they do, but has his beliefs seriously challenged when he studies exorcisms with Hopkins character and they take on a case that might be too much for either of them. When I was making my prediction for the film, I used two criteria. The first was to look at horror films the past couple of years that came out in January. The second was to look at recent films that Anthony Hopkins has headlined and were in major release, which turned out to be only one film as Hopkins has really only done supporting roles this past decade in major films. Here’s how those films did on their opening weekend:

2007 – Fracture – $11 million opening weekend
2009 – The Unborn – $19.8 million opening weekend
2009 – The Uninvited – $10.3 million opening weekend
2010 – Legion – $17.5 million opening weekend

Average Opening Weekend – $14.65 million

I think the gross is a little high because even though it is a horror film and the trailers for the film are scary, I don’t think that audiences have much interest in The Rite. I also don’t think that Anthony Hopkins, as good and respected an actor as he is, can open a film anymore. The Rite is not being well received by critics, with Rotten Tomatoes listing the film at 17% positive as of this writing. I don’t think the reviews will matter much as audiences will look at this film as being dumped on them in the dreary months of January. Opening in 2,985 theatres, I’m predicting that The Rite will open in 4th place and gross $9.5 million.

With The Mechanic and The Rite entering the top five, I’m predicting that The Dilemma and True Grit will be leaving the top five. Here is how I see the rest of the films breaking down:

No Strings Attached had a very strong opening weekend, and this weekend there is absolutely no reason why it should not continue to do well. The new releases target men and this is the highest profile title for women. Natalie Portman is red hot right now (thanks to Black Swan and her Oscar nomination for Best Actress), so the January release date turned out to be perfect for No Strings Attached. I’m predicting a drop of 41% giving No Strings Attached a gross of $11.6 million and a surprising 1st place finish for a second week in a row.

The Green Hornet will be in a little trouble this weekend with the two new releases being geared towards men (this applies more to The Mechanic since that’s an action film, but The Rite is a horror which men also will also turn out for). The Green Hornet should post a decent hold being the only recent release that is in 3-D. I’m predicting a drop of 44% for The Green Hornet giving it a gross of $9.9 million and a 3rd place finish.

The King’s Speech will build on the momentum from this week’s Oscar nominations, as it was the film that had the most nominations with 12. I’m predicting that The King’s Speech will drop 10% from last weekend, giving the film a gross of $7 million and a 5th place finish.

True Grit should post another strong hold, especially after all the Oscar nominations it got this week. I’m predicting a drop of 22% giving True Grit a gross of $5.7 million and a 6th place finish.

The Dilemma will continue to suffer now that No Strings Attached is the comedy that people want to see. I’m predicting a drop of 45% giving the film a gross of $5.5 million and a 7th place finish.

Black Swan will be another film that benefits from the Oscar nominations it received earlier in the week. I’m predicting a drop of 18%, which gives the film a gross of $4.8 million and an 8th place finish.

<bThe Fighter will continue my trend of films that post strong holds thanks to Oscar nominations. If there is any category that has a lock on an award, it is this film for Best Supporting Actor. It would be a massive upset if Christian Bale did not win that award. I’m predicting a drop of 25% from last weekend giving The Fighter a gross of $3 million and a 9th place finish.

Little will make the top ten for the final time this weekend, as it will be nearing the end of its run. I’m predicting that Little Fockers will fall 36% giving it a gross of $2.8 million and a 10th place finish.

In limited release:

Biutiful – This film stars Javier Bardem in an Academy Award nominated performance and is directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (he is best known for directing Babel). The film follows a man from the underworld of Barcelona dealing with life, love, family and loss. Biutiful is being released in 57 theatres and has a 78% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

From Prada to Nada– This film is modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s classic “Sense and Sensibility”. When their father dies and leaves them penniless, a group of sisters find out what’s its like to not have privileges in life and have to come to terms with reality. From Prada to Nada is being released in 256 theatres and the film does not have any reviews posted at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster – This film stars Donnie Yen and follows the Ip Man as he tries to open a martial arts academy in Hong Kong. The townsfolk won’t let him until he proves himself. Ip Man also has to deal with the British upper-class coming to Hong Kong, where one of the Brits insults martial arts and Ip Man has to defend the honor of his nation and himself. The film is being released in 20 theatres and has a 91% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

Kaboom– This film is about a group of students dealing with sex. What makes this film stand out is that it is actually a science fiction film. Kaboom is being released in 1 theatre and has a 74% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

So to recap, here are my predictions:

No Strings Attached – $11.6 million
The Mechanic – $10.5 million
The Green Hornet – $9.9 million
The Rite – $9.5 million
The King’s Speech – $7 million

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

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