Weekend Predictions: Last vs. First
This weekend the battle will be between the last Harry Potter movie and The First Avenger. As long as the two films are close, the box office should be strong. In fact, The Deathly Hallows, Part 2 could break the record for largest week-to-week drop off (in terms of raw dollars) and still top last year's number one film. As long as Captain Americacomes close and Friends with Benefits doesn't bomb, we should see strong growth on a year-over-year basis.
After shattering records last weekend, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is looking to avoid breaking another record this weekend. No film has ever seen its weekend box office number fall by more than $100 million during its sophomore stint. New Moon came very, very close with a decline from $142.84 million to $42.87 million. However, only the most bullish analysts expect don't expect Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 to become the first. With an opening weekend of $169,189,427, the film would have to avoid a 60% drop-off to not fall $100 million. There are some reasons to feel hopeful, most obviously the Oscar-worthy reviews, but also the sense of nostalgia. Since this will be the last time fans will be able to seeHarry, Hermione, Ron, and the others in theaters, some of the more hardcore fans might decide to make a ritual of the film and watch it every week. If these forces prevail, there's a slim chance the film will earn close to $75 million over the weekend for a total of $300 million after just ten days of release, for yet another record. On the other hand, the Fanboy effect might be so great that it will overcome all other aspects and cause the film to collapse by more than 70%, leaving it with just under $50 million for the weekend. Sadly, the lower end seems more likely, but a first place, $55 million weekend is still worth celebrating and would give the film $282 million, which is already more thanThe Prisoner of Azkaban or The Chamber of Secrets earned in total.
Captain America: The First Avenger has a legitimate shot at first place. In some ways it is tracking just as strong as Thor was before that film opened, which puts $65 million on the table. On the other hand, its competition is obviously much stronger, and the flood of comic book movies so far this summer could be too much for moviegoers to take. That said, while Captain America's reviewsare a little weaker that Thor's reviews were, 73% positive is still strong for a summer blockbuster. And given Marvel's track record so far, $50 million is likely on the low end of expectations, while first place with $60 million is not out of the question. I'm going with second place and $54 million, but I'm not exactly sure of that.
The second wide release of the week is Friends with Benefits, which stars Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake as Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcherrespectively. Comparisons to No Strings Attached are persisting. This film'sreviews is better than the reviews its predecessor earned, and it does have a better release date. That said, it also has much stronger competition and it is on the tail end of a string of R-rated comedies. Look for $22 million during its opening weekend and just over $60 million in total.
Horrible Bosses has overtaken Transformers: Dark of the Moon on the daily chart, and it will likely do the same over the weekend, but it should be close with both films making between $10 million and $11 million. For Horrible Bosses, this will be enough to keep it on pace to reach $100 million in total. As for Dark of the Moon, it has already reached its last major milestone on the domestic front.
1- HP7: 48,000,000 - 75,000,000 (55,000,000)
2- Captain America: 50,000,000 - 60,000,000 (54,000,000)
3- Friends With Benefits: (22,000,000)
4- Horrible Bosses: 10,000,000 - 11,000,000
Forecast: 'Captain America' Could Top the Mighty 'Potter'
by Brandon Gray
|Captain America: The First Avenger
July 21, 2011
Midnight: Captain America: The First Avenger drew $4 million at approximately 2,000 locations in its midnight opening. That compared favorably to the other superhero movies of the summer: X-Men: First Class ($3.38 million), Green Lantern ($3.35 million) and Thor ($3.25 million).
Forecast: This weekend, Captain America: The First Avenger invades close to 6,700 screens at 3,715 locations (including around 2,500 showing the movie in 3D), whileFriends with Benefits grabs around 3,500 screens at 2,926 locations. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 will cast a formidable shadow, though, after breaking the opening weekend gross record.
Captain America is the most mainstream superhero making a big screen debut this summer, which presumably gives it an advantage over Thor and Green Lantern. The marketing has taken great pains to make the character relatable and heroic, focusing on his origin as a physically-weak-but-earnest soldier. As well-known as the name and costume are, though, Captain America's powers have always been unclear to the uninitiated, but the movie's advertising has explained that he is a buffed-out super soldier. While that initially appeared to lack the wow factor, the marketing has deftly made it work with the character and World War II setting. Supernatural powers like Thor's and Green Lantern's would have made Captain less grounded, and, generally, a superhero that's not seemingly invincible works best. Captain also has a strong villain in Red Skull, and the marketing has pitched it as a rip-roaring retro adventure. The tagline "Heroes are made in America" was a ballsy move and, hopefully, the movie lives up to it.
Distributor Paramount Pictures said their pre-release tracking pegged Captain America in the range of X-Men: First Class ($55 million) and Thor ($65.7 million). Thor had the early May advantage, when screens are freer and business is more concentrated on the weekends than in late July. However, adjusted for ticket price inflation, past July superhero debuts have fared better: the first X-Men did the equivalent of nearly $80 million, while Fantastic Four (also featuring Captain's Chris Evans) adjusted to $69 million. Another proper comp would be G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, which abandon its "real American hero" roots and debuted to the equivalent of $58 million.
If Captain America can just muster an average start for a major superhero movie, it could dethrone Deathly Hallows Part 2. The final Harry Potter made history with its $169.2 million, but, to paraphrase Singin' in the Rain, "all-time smash end of first weekend, all-time flop end of the second." Now, that's an exaggeration, butDeathly Hallows Part 2 is in store for a massive weekend-to-weekend decline, due to the franchise's historic patterns, the movie's daily gross pattern and the fact that its first weekend included a record-breaking $43.5 million midnight Friday launch. The last July Potters, Half-Blood Prince and Order of the Phoenix, fell 62 and 58 percent, respectively, in their second weekends, and their first weekends were muted from Wednesday openings to begin with, not pumped up like Deathly Hallows Part 2's.
Meanwhile, Friends with Benefits is the second "friends-with-benefits" sex comedy of the year after No Strings Attached, which opened to $19.7 million and closed with $70.7 million. The connection extends further than just the premise: No Strings Attached was originally called Friends with Benefits, both movies feature two actresses hot off Black Swan (Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis) and two people from That '70s Show (Ashton Kutcher, Kunis), and both made acronyms out of their titles in the ads (NSA and FWB). Just because two movies with the same concept open in close proximity with each other, doesn't mean they necessarily cannibalize each other or that the second movie suffers (ex. Armageddon opened after Deep Impact but made more). Also featuring Justin Timberlake, who has established a comedy persona (through Saturday Night Live, etc.), Friends with Benefitscomes off as a more outrageous version of No Strings Attached and stuffs more gags in its ads, so it should hook up with many, mostly female moviegoers.
In Box Office Mojo's "when will you see it" reader polling, Captain America scored 41 percent for opening weekend, edging out Green Lantern's 39.4 percent and Fantastic Four's 38.3 percent but trailing Thor's 53.6 percent. With 12 percent for opening weekend, Friends with Benefits was stronger than No Strings Attached(10 percent) and What Happens in Vegas (9.6 percent) and behind Bridesmaids (13.4 percent).
The Forecast, July 22-24
1. Captain America: The First Avenger - $62 million
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - $48 million
3. Friends with Benefits - $23 million
4. Transformers: Dark of the Moon - $11.5 million
5. Horrible Bosses - $10.5 million
Bar for Success
Captain America needs to at least strike the recent opening range for comparable superhero origin stories, normalized for inflation. That means at least the low $60 million's. It also needs to show greater gumption than the lesser-known superheroes of the summer, but, since long term playability can be greater in the late summer, that doesn't necessarily mean it has to exceed Thor's debut. As for Friends with Benefits, if it can get in spitting distance of No Strings Attached, then it'll be peachy.