Friday, December 13, 2013

Hobbit Battles Tyler Perry in Drag for Box Office Supremacy

This is a blog post promising predictions from Scott, and it then delivers exactly that.  Mostly, because Orlando Bloom won't return my emails.

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After a bit of a break due to some health reasons, I have returned to the prediction game in an attempt to conquer the mighty dragon Smaug, as the next installment of The Hobbit trilogy of material from the much loved book and lesser loved appendices hits theatres. This weekend also sees Tyler Perry bring back the Madea character just in time to save Christmas. Also, a few more of this year’s anticipated Oscar hopefuls enter into limited release to set the stage for their runs at the box office and critical acclaim.

While The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey did really well in theatres last year (taking $303 million domestically and $1 billion word-wide), it seemed to fall far short of expectations and was the lowest domestically grossing film of the franchise (yet had the best opening weekend). From my perspective, it was a bloated script that lost sight of the fact that the movie was supposed to be about the hobbit (Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman) and it seemed to try and recapture the sweeping feel of The Lord of the Rings trilogy instead of focusing on one unlikely and small creature caught up in an adventure.

Having seen some of the trailers for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, my fears for a repeat of neglecting the title character are reinforced, as Legolas (who was not even in the book) gets as much trailer attention, if not more, than Bilbo does. It really leaves me feeling like it will once again be a film that is constructed more in a way to revive the Lord of the Rings magic than to tell the tale that has its own distinct feel.

So, enough of my own personal thoughts aside, this weekend will be very telling to see if audiences are still enthusiastic and on board for getting them some sweet LOTR theatrical action. While An Unexpected Journey was able to take in $84 million last December, I am thinking the numbers may be a little down this time around but it is hard to feel safe in saying that because you never know what could happen with a much beloved franchise, especially when there is no direct competition for it to face. The critical reception for the film is better than the first movie, but is steadily dropping and now sits at 71% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing this. Currently 99% of people on Flixster want to see it, but as one site pointed out, the number of people who want to see it is around 30% less than those who had wanted to see the first film. Some predictions floating around out there have this film topping last year’s opening weekend numbers, but I could see it landing close to $80 million before suffering a massive drop next weekend.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Opening Weekend Prediction - $78 million

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas is opening this weekend in 2,100 theatres as he looks to right the ship after Peeples made only $4.6 million its opening weekend. Now, the reason for this could be because Perry was only a producer on Peeples as movies that he writes and directs are very consistent in how they perform. The two most recent movies starring Perry as Madea were both able to secure great opening weekends of $25 million each, and I think this is exactly where this movie will land once again.

While it is timed well with the holidays, it could be affected by going up against The Hobbit. One thing that it does have going for it over The Hobbit is that fans of Perry’s popular Madea character will be guaranteed that the title character will actually be the focus of the film, while fans of the title character from The Hobbit will most likely be disappointed with the lack of screen time he receives.

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas Opening Weekend Predictions - $27 million

Entering into limited release this weekend is David O. Russell’s American Hustle which stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Jeremy Renner. Robert De Niro has an uncredited role in the film, but not to worry De Niro fans… you will get full doses of him in theatres soon enough in a boxing match with Sylvester Stallone. The very timely release of Golden Globe nominations could help the success of this film, as American Hustle picked up seven nominations and will most likely help increase awareness of the film and give it more credibility. While there is talk floating around about lukewarm reviews of the film, it is hard to see the evidence of that as it is at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. The word around the campfire is that the casting is great, the directing is great, and it is incredibly funny, all of which help people see past the flaws of the film. When The Fighter opened in four theatres it was able to average $75,000 per theatre, and Silver Linings Playbook opened to an average of $27,000 over 16 theatres. American Hustle will be opening in 6 theatres, and I could see its performance skewing more towards that of The Fighter.

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

Opening in fourteen theatres this weekend is Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, a movie about the beloved Walt Disney and the process of getting the movie rights to make Mary Poppins. Going into the film, it is very easy to assume that Disney will be portrayed in an immaculate light, as what studio who makes magical family fare would want their namesake to be portrayed as a chain smoker? It stars Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in a year where it looks like he is attempting a career resurgence. The success of Captain Philips will likely help the prospects of Saving Mr. Banks as Hanks name is now just as relevant as ever. The possible downside to this movie could be the intrusion of the studio in how they portray this story as the consensus on Rotten Tomatoes praises it, but calls it ‘aggressively likeable and sentimental to a fault.’ That’s alright though, because we know that Hanks will entertain us, and Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers will do the same.

Saving Mr. Banks Limited Release Opening Weekend - $45,000 per theatre

I do want to make a brief note on the predictions for limited release movies. There is a larger than realistic chance that I could be disastrously off on any of them as I have not yet found any good formula for predicting how they will do. If I end up nailing them, I knew what I was doing. If I am way off, there is no way to know exactly how these movies will perform.

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