Box Office Beat: Weekend of January 25

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. There are three January releases left, and not one of them appears to be worthy of audience attention. Two (“Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” and “Parker”) didn’t screen for critics until tonight; one (“Movie 43”) didn’t screen, period. Now, that’s not to say that films that reek of awfulness can’t do well—this month’s “Texas Chainsaw 3D” and “A Haunted House” did exactly that—but these three don’t have the same built-in audiences to support them. Let’s crunch some numbers…

Hansel and Gretel: Witch HuntersCertain industry tracking reports do have “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” opening surprisingly well—as high as $30 million—but I don’t see this at all, even though the vaguely similar “Underworld” franchise has been successful on this weekend in past years. First, witches aren’t vampires. They don’t have anywhere near the same number of loyal followers. Secondly, the film’s fairy tale origins make it appear distinctly female-oriented, which is at odds with its R-rated, violent content. My view is that “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” will open somewhere between another R-rated January witch film, “Season of the Witch” ($10.6m), and another recent spin on a fairy-tale, “Red Riding Hood” ($14.0m), with a 3-D surcharge bump. That brings its opening to $13.8 million, which will be good for first place in this down frame.

Parker“Parker” looks like the average R-rated Jason Statham action film, which is convenient for predicting, because there are others just like it. To be precise, there are four R-rated, action non-sequels in which Statham was the main headliner: “Safe” ($7.9m), “The Mechanic” ($11.4m), “The Bank Job” ($5.9m), and “Crank” ($10.5m). Those average to $8.9 million, which is as good as a prediction as any. The one factor that might thrust the gross for “Parker” higher is Jennifer Lopez’s involvement, but she has been in her share of box office turds, so I’m going to stick with the straight Statham average.

Movie 43Lastly “Movie 43” is attempting to cash in on the success of fellow ensemble efforts “Valentine’s Day” and (the less successful) “New Year’s Eve,” but the likelihood that it even matches the latter’s $13.0m opening is not high. The film is packed with big stars—Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Seth MacFarlane, Emma Stone, Richard Gere, Gerard Butler, Halle Berry, Elizabeth Banks, and many more—but the ads are so all-over-the-place that it just seems like a scattershot mess. Plus, I’m not sure that the usual audience for this style of film (middle-age women, in the case of “Valentine’s Day” and “New Year’s Eve”) are also interested in the raunchy, hard-R-rated comedy offered here. My instinct is that it will muster only about two-thirds of the latter comparison, meaning a tepid $8.7 million. More stars does not always equal more box office revenue.

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

  1. “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” … $13.8m
  2. “Mama” … $10.2m  -64.1%
  3. “Zero Dark Thirty” … $9.2m  -41.8%
  4. “Parker” … $8.9m
  5. “Movie 43” … $8.7m
  6. “The Silver Linings Playbook” … $6.7m  -37.7%
  7. “Broken City” … $4.3m  -48.0%
  8. “Gangster Squad” … $4.3m  -50.2%
  9. “Django Unchained” … $4.2m  -45.8%
  10. “Les Miserables” … $4.1m  -45.3%