Box Office Beat: Weekend of January 4

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. Now that the holidays are over with, we’re back to movies being released on the standard Friday, so extrapolating predictions from existing comparisons is easier. There are only two new wide releases this weekend, so this should be quick and painless… let’s crunch some numbers…

Texas Chainsaw 3-DThe big new movie of note is “Texas Chainsaw 3D,” yet another take on the enduring horror franchise. Last year, this particular weekend proved that it was opportune for horror, as “The Devil Inside” took in a whopping $33.7m. “Texas Chainsaw 3D” almost certainly won’t do that much, but it should do at least as well as the last entry in the franchise, 2006’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” ($18.5m). In fact, I think that figure, plus 3-D surcharges, is a reasonable bet for this new one. Figuring 60 percent of viewers see it with an extra dimension—many of the big chains aren’t offering the 2-D version—at an average surcharge of $3, that adjusts to $22.9 million. That would be right in the ballpark of what “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” grossed in January 2009 ($21.2m), when 3-D screens were nowhere near as plentiful.

Promised LandDestined to be a footnote is Gus Van Sant and Matt Damon’s anti-fracking manifesto “Promised Land,” which goes wide after opening to a tepid $173,915 in 25 sites ($6,957 per theater average) last weekend. Distributor Focus’ hope has got to be that Middle America will take to the movie more than the coasts did, as it is set in a Midwest farm-town. But given the region’s more conservative politics, the prospect of a liberal message-movie doing well there is iffy, to put it optimistically. Focus’ hefty TV ad blitz will keep the per-theater-average out of the gutter, but I can’t imagine it topping $3,000 given the poor first weekend. I’m going to guess $2,400 per theater, for a weekend total of $4 million from 1,675 sites. That makes top 10 contention questionable.

Also opening in semi-wide releases of 500-some-odd theaters are “The Impossible,” which will almost certainly put Naomi Watts in Oscar contention this year, and “Not Fade Away,” David Chase’s wonderfully unsentimental portrait of rock ‘n roll and youth in the 1960s. Neither are likely to crack the top 10 so no predictions for this weekend, but we’ll be watching them for next weekend and beyond. (Seriously, go see “Not Fade Away” — my glowing review will run soon.)

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

  1. “Texas Chainsaw 3D” … $22.9m
  2. “Django Unchained” … $21.8m  -27.6%
  3. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” … $21.4m  -33.0%
  4. “Les Miserables” … $17.0m  -37.7%
  5. “Parental Guidance” … $10.1m  -30.6%
  6. “Jack Reacher” … $9.5m  -30.1%
  7. “This is 40” … $8.5m  -32.0%
  8. “Lincoln” … $5.8m  -20.9%
  9. “Monsters Inc.” (3-D re-issue) … $4.5m  -30.2%
  10. “The Guilt Trip” … $4.2m  -35.8%