Box Office Beat: Weekend of August 24

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. There are three new openers and a significant expansion, but we’ll be lucky if even one ascends to double-digit numbers. And that’s after last weekend’s four releases all proved underwhelming. It must be late August! At any rate, let’s crunch some numbers…

The one movie that has a legitimate chance of opening in the double-digits is “Premium Rush,” the on-the-run… errr, on-the-bicycle thriller directed by David Koepp (“Secret Window”). Solid reviews should help it catch on with adult audiences, but selling a “bicycle chase” flick to the younger set may be an insurmountable challenge. Plus, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, while hip and well-liked, has yet to prove he can open a movie on his own. Truth is, I can see the film banking a decent $4,000 per-theater-average, but not much more than that because nothing here screams “Get out and see it!” That would give it an even $9 million opening — just shy of the double-digit range.

Also featuring chase sequences–of the more standard car variety–is “Hit & Run,” the independently produced action-comedy starring Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard that is being distributed through the AMC/Regal joint distribution venture Open Road. The film already opened on Wednesday to a rather abysmal $625,000, for eighth place. That’s a worse number than even the flop “Nitro Circus: The Movie” managed two weeks ago. Even worse news for the film’s prospects: It’s terrible, as I detail in my “D” review, so word-of-mouth going into the weekend is unlikely to boost crowds. The most recent Wednesday fiction film openings have been “Hope Springs” and “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” which managed to multiply their opening day figures by 6.5 and 4.5 over their respective opening weekends. I predict that “Hit & Run” will fall right in the middle of those two, for a 5.5 multiplier, thus resulting in a paltry $3.4 million three-day take.

The ApparitionThe prospects for “The Apparition,” an Ashley Greene horror film that is being dumped into just 810 theaters by Warner Brothers, do not look even slightly rosy, either. As of this posting, the Rotten Tomatoes score sits at zero percent and there is no buzz about the film anywhere. Of course, reviews and buzz are unlikely to deter the Friday night teenybopper crowd, who are willing to buy a ticket for nearly any PG-13 rated horror film. But this is a movie that will be seen by convenience, not actual desire. As a result, I’m predicting a per-theater-average around the standard August horror release like “Pulse” ($3,531) or “Mirrors” ($4,190) — only in about a third as many theaters. That brings “The Apparition” to a pretty pathetic $3.1 million opening.

2016: Obama's AmericaThe only real success this weekend is likely to be the conservative documentary “2016: Obama’s America,” which expands to 1,090 screens after doing bang-up biz last weekend on 169 (for $1.2m). The film has been doing exceptionally well on the weekdays, too, suggesting that there is sustained/growing interest. Right-wing distributor Rocky Mountain Films’ previous record opening for a doc was Ben Stein’s “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” which pulled in $2.97m on a similar number of screens. But “2016” has far more advertising behind it, having been promoted to death on conservative talk radio, meaning it should come close to doing double that figure. This is substantiated by a report from Exhibitor Relations that its advanced sales currently dwarf all competitors. I’m going with $5.9 million — possibly even higher if it catches fire. Michael Moore may finally have met his match in Dinesh D’Souza, though this won’t come anywhere close to the record-busting $119m total of “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

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

  1. “The Expendables 2” … $12.9m  -54.9%
  2. “The Bourne Legacy” … $9.4m  -44.9%
  3. “Premium Rush” … $9.0m
  4. “ParaNorman” … $8.7m  -38.2%
  5. “The Campaign” … $7.2m  -45.2%
  6. “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” … $7.0m  -35.3%
  7. “The Dark Knight Rises” … $6.6m  -40.1%
  8. “Hope Springs” … $6.3m  -30.9%
  9. “2016: Obama’s America” … $5.9m  +474%
  10. “Sparkle” … $4.7m  -59.6%