Friday, December 20, 2013

Anchorman Looking to Smite the Hobbit at the Box Office

A really huge weekend right before Christmas, which likely means a busy weekend at the theatres.  Scott weighs in with what films he thinks have the best chance to pick up some sweet yuletide cash.

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This weekend shows that we are on the verge of history in the making, and, unfortunately for Peter Jackson, not the good kind. For the first time in the history of the Middle Earth franchise that is helmed by Jackson, a movie will be bumped from the number one spot after just one week. Unless something miraculous happens over the next 72 hours, all signs point to Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues claiming the top spot. Last year the less than enthusiastically received The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was able to hold onto number one for three weeks in a row, which is a remarkable feat.

Perhaps this will be the concrete evidence needed to persuade people in the ‘there is absolutely nothing wrong with The Hobbit movies’ camp to start listening to reason. But, I am not here to talk about a flawed franchise but to look at movies that are entering into theatres this weekend and shed some light on how I believe they will do. The movie expected to be at the top of the heap this weekend is Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which stars Will Ferrell as the mustache wielding news anchor, Ron Burgundy. The original movie, which came out in 2004, was a healthy success as it made almost $90 million world-wide on a budget of $25 million. It came out to an opening weekend of $28 million, and that is a number that I could easily see the sequel surpassing.

While it has been nine years since the original, that has allowed for some real anticipation to build for this movie, and the promotion of it has been extremely well done. Will Ferrell has been in fine form as he has taken the Burgundy character to different venues such as TSN and serenading Rob Ford on Jimmy Kimmel to hype this movie.

Coming up with a prediction for this film took a bit of time, as it is a five day opening weekend. First, I figure that the movie is likely to average around $8,000 per theatre over the traditional weekend (Friday through Sunday) at its 3,400 locations (an average slightly lower than Ferrell’s The Campaign, but that is okay because Anchorman 2 will already have been out for two days before the weekend starts, so the weekend average will take a hit because of this). On top of that, we will have the much lower per theatre averages from Wednesday (which came in at around $2,300 per theatre) and what should be a slightly lower Thursday to create a rough per theatre average for those two days of approximately $4,000 per theatre. All of that put together gives me my prediction. I hope I have not bored you with my thought process, but now you get a bit of an understanding as to how I come to some of these predictions.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues 5 Day Opening Weekend Prediction - $41 million

Moving from a comedy, we head to a drama that is being described by many critics as extremely humorous. It is American Hustle, a movie directed by David O. Russell about the Abscam operation in the 70s, full out big lapels and comb-overs. The trailers show a vibrance and style that seems as though the essence of that decade has been perfectly captured, and it has an extremely deep cast consisting of Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, and even Louis C.K. It is also coming off recently being nominated for seven Golden Globe awards and thirteen Critic’s Choice awards, all aspects that will increase its chances in theatres.

Last weekend it entered into limited release and ended up taking in $123,409 per theatre over 6 theatres. It will be expanding this weekend to 2,500 locations, so the average will drop exponentially. When David O. Russell’s The Fighter moved to wide release after a weekend in 4 theatres, it went from a per theatre average of $75,000 to $4,800, which represented a 94% drop. That is a drop that is consistent with what I could imagine happening with American Hustle, which would put its projected per theatre average at $7,400. Wow, I am just all about explaining the math today.

American Hustle Expansion Weekend Prediction - $18.5 million

Opening up in wide release this weekend is Walking With Dinosaurs, an animated film about a story with dinosaurs that claims to be the greatest 3D event in 100,000,000 years. Call me a skeptic, but I am calling shenanigans on this one. It appears to be a movie for the whole family, mainly the young ones who are infatuated with thunder lizards, and it appears to have a definite narrative to it. What concerns me is the fact that the dinosaurs do not talk or are given characters, and those are elements that seem essential for connecting with the kids. As well, the animation looks inconsistent, but I doubt that registers with children. I mean, I thought The Last Starfighter was a marvel. Unfortunately for Walking With Dinosaurs, Frozen is still dominating the family animation section of the market and will most likely do so again this weekend.

Walking With Dinosaurs Opening Weekend Prediction - $7.5 million

Also expanding into wide release this weekend is Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, a movie about Walt Disney and his attempts to secure the rights to make what would become the beloved tale of Mary Poppins. There was initially a lot of Oscar talk around this movie, but as different awards nominations have started to come out it would seem as though the film is losing traction in that regard. Having not seen the movie, my big concern has always been the executive intrusion that would plague the filming as they would be obsessed over portraying their namesake in the brightest light. The reviews for the film have been fairly decent, but it is appearing to not quite evolve into what they were hoping for. It is a very busy next few weeks in theatres, and there may not be much of a window of opportunity for Saving Mr. Banks to capitalize on.

Saving Mr. Banks Expansion Weekend Prediction - $10 million

A movie that I should also mention, although I am hesitant to make a prediction on because limited release films seem next to impossible to predict, is Spike Jonze’s Her. The movie stars Joaquin Phoenix as a man who begins to fall for his artificial intelligence computer operating system, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Those two names make this movie quite intriguing, but when you add into the mix Rooney Mara and Amy Adams then it becomes all the more enticing. The critical reception for this film is extremely positive and it will definitely be battling for some Oscar nominations in a few weeks. Against my better judgement, I think I will throw my hat into the ring with a prediction on this one. I could easily see it skewing towards the same kind of opening weekend as Adaptation, Jonze’s 2002 Oscar bound movie, which averaged $54,000 per theatre.

Her Limited Release Opening Weekend Prediction - $55,000 per theatre

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