Box Office Beat: Weekend of August 10

Danny Baldwin's Box Office BeatHello and welcome back to Box Office Beat, the column in which I predict the upcoming weekend’s box office grosses. It must be August, because we finally have a weekend with a healthy four new releases after many consecutive weekends of just one or two, which is the standard schedule for summer tent-pole season. That means more work for me here, so let’s get right into crunching numbers…

By far, the most unpredictable new release is “The Bourne Legacy,” the fourth installment in the series that now finds Jeremy Renner occupying the protagonist role, rather than Matt Damon (thankfully as a new character, not Jason Bourne himself). That change has clearly brought on some ill-will from a certain segment of the series’ casual following, so the likelihood of this one ascending to the $52.5m opening of “The Bourne Supremacy,” let alone the whopping $69.3m opening of “The Bourne Ultimatum,” is severely unlikely. What’s more probable is a number similar to the original “Bourne Identity,” which pulled in $27.1m back in 2002. Adjusted for inflation, that’d put “The Bourne Legacy” at a handsome $34.6 million, which is right in line with other recent action-spy pictures like “The Sum of All Fears” and “Salt.”

On a completely different note, there is the Will Ferrell-Zach Galifianakis political comedy “The Campaign.” The bulk of critics liked the movie, but I certainly didn’t and I think that general audiences, who will be far less amused by the jabs the Koch Brothers, will side with me. Further, the Average Joe may be tired of politics by this point in the Presidential race, so the “topical” release timing may actually come back to bite Warner Bros. Thus, expect the weekend to be front-loaded as word-of-mouth will be less than stellar. Ferrell has only headlined one widely released R-rated movie before: 2008’s “Semi-Pro,” which opened to a tepid $15.1m. This one should do better than that because it’s more filled with stars (Galifiankis, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Akroyd, John Lithgow, etc.) and because women are probably still more likely to go to a political comedy than a basketball comedy, but it will still underperform studio expectations. I’m betting on an even $20 million.

The other two new releases this weekend already opened on Wednesday, which provides some level of insight into their box office potential. “Nitro Circus: The Movie,” based on an MTV show that combines “Jackass” with motor sports, grossed a pathetic $666,000 (an ominous sign?). Given that the movie is likely to be front-loaded by whatever following the show has, I predict that Friday will not be much higher — maybe $750,000. Applying a slightly greater weekend multiplier than the “Jackass” films have historically had of 2.5, that would put the weekend at $1.9 million, hardly a victory for distributor Arc Entertainment.

Lastly, there’s “Hope Springs,” starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, which also underwhelmed on opening Wednesday, grossing $2.3 million. However, with an almost exclusively adult audience, who might be working on a Wednesday (that is, if they aren’t retired), that’s not as bad as the “Nitro Circus: The Movie” figure. There is a great comparison that also opened on a Wednesday during the summer, received positive reviews, was based on a popular novel, and was targeted at older viewers: “The Help.” Over its first weekend, that hit grossed 4.7x its opening Wednesday. Applying a slightly higher multiplier of 5X to “Hope Springs,” because “The Help” source material had a stronger core following, one gets a weekend of $11.5 million. That’s not great, especially considering the stars’ pedigree, but the movie is good enough that it should have a long life and play well through Labor Day.

My prediction of what the full top 10 will look like:

  1. “The Bourne Legacy” … $34.6m
  2. “The Dark Knight Rises” … $21.4m   -40.1%
  3. “The Campaign” … $20.0m
  4. “Hope Springs” … $11.5m
  5. “Total Recall” … $10.2m  -60.1%
  6. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days” … $7.3m  -50.0%
  7. “Ice Age: Continental Drift” … $5.8m  -32.6%
  8. “Ted” … $4.4m  -22.1%
  9. “The Watch” … $3.3m  -49.4%
  10. “The Amazing Spider-Man” … $2.8m  -36.7%