Box Office Beat: Weekend of April 19

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 results. Even though there’s a $120 million-budgeted science-fiction blockbuster starring Tom Cruise, who either used to be or still is one of the world’s biggest movie stars (depending on who you talk to), being released, this weekend can’t help but feel like the calm before the summer storm. Can you believe “Iron Man 3” is only a couple weeks away? Outside of “Oblivion,” the only other “new” wide release is “The Place Beyond the Pines,” which has already been rolling out across the country over the past two weekends (read my review here).

OblivionThere aren’t any fully synonymous comparisons for “Oblivion,” so making an opening weekend prediction is a challenge. The only other non-sequel, PG-13 rated, post-apocalyptic, IMAX-released blockbuster with a popular male lead in recent years was “I Am Legend,” which had a $77.2m opening that seems thoroughly out of reach here. Keep in mind, outside of the “Mission: Impossible” series, Cruise has not had an opening over $21m since 2005’s “War of the Worlds,” so the likelihood this becomes a $50m+ hit seems unlikely. Perhaps a reasonable comparison would be the director, Joseph Kosinski’s, previous film, “Tron Legacy,” which opened to $44m in 2010. But that was PG and appealed to families (Disney distributed), so perhaps the audience was broader. Looking at the list of the biggest opening weekends in April, the movie that this appears to have the most in common with, insofar as it’s a PG-13 guy-targeted action flick, is “The Scorpion King” ($36.1m). Sure, that didn’t have IMAX and it came out over a decade ago, but for lack of a better hunch, I’m going to go with the same figure: $36.1 million for “Oblivion.”

The Place Beyond the PinesAs for “The Place Beyond the Pines,” we have some actual hard data to work with. Last weekend, it grossed $3.866m from 514 theaters, for a per-theater-average of $7,521. It’s expanding to nearly three times the venues (1,542), meaning the likelihood of it maintaining such an average is extremely low. Further hurting its case, word-of-mouth may not be so kind on this one (why, I will not spoil, as I quite like where the film goes and I hope you’ll give it a shot). My thinking is that the film will gross marginally more than it did last weekend on the whole, but that its per-theater-average will be cut in half. That would mean roughly a $5 million wide opening.

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

  1. “Oblivion” … $36.1m
  2. “42” … $15.3m  -44.3%
  3. “The Croods” … $9.2m  -29.9%
  4. “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” … $5.9m  -45.8%
  5. “Scary Movie 5” … $5.7m  -59.7%
  6. “Olympus Has Fallen” … $5.1m  -29.7%
  7. “The Place Beyond the Pines” … $5.0m  +29.4%
  8. “Jurassic Park 3D” … $4.4m  -50.3%
  9. “Evil Dead” … $4.3m  -54.7%
  10. “Oz the Great and Powerful” … $3.4m  -30.0%