Hello and welcome back to Box Office Beat, the column in which I predict the upcoming weekend’s box office results. After sustaining a pretty strong accuracy record this summer, I finally screwed the pooch last weekend when I predicted “Now You See Me” would tank (it was an unexpected hit and grossed double my guess) and “After Earth” would open in line with previous Will Smith action flicks (it tanked and grossed half my guess). It happens. The best I can do is try to redeem myself this weekend, with two new wide releases hitting the megaplexes.
The higher-profile of the two releases, “The Internship,” also seems like the one more likely to fail. The reviews verge on abysmal, and the trailer is loaded with a lot of bromance brouhaha but not many big laughs. Furthermore, the raunchy humor that helped stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson earn lots of fans in “Wedding Crashers” is clearly gone here, as evidenced by the PG-13 rating. I think “The Internship” will go down as an under-performer for these guys, so my thought as to how to make a prediction of its gross is to average those of their other under-performers in releases of this size (~3,000 theaters) over the last decade. That list includes Wilson’s “Hall Pass” ($13.5m) and “Drillbit Taylor” ($10.3m) and Vaughn’s “The Watch” ($12.8m) and “The Dilemma” ($17.8m), which average out to $13.6 million.
Made on one-twentieth of the budget of “The Internship,” the B-thriller “The Purge” appears to be the likely victor at the box office this weekend, against the odds. Reports indicate strong early sales, and the movie’s prospects are helped by the fact that there has been a real drought of small-scale genre films lately, as tentpoles have naturally crowded the megaplex during this summer season, presumably creating demand. Star Ethan Hawke re-proved his ability to succeed with genre audiences with last year’s similarly budgeted horror flick “Sinister” ($18.0m opening). But I see “The Purge” opening even higher, in line with another horror release that launch around this time of summer, 2008’s surprise hit “The Strangers.” That means an opening of $21 million, which would be a resounding success for studio Universal.
My prediction of what the full top 10 will look like:
- “The Purge” … $21.0m
- “Fast & Furious 6” … $17.4m -50.5%
- “Now You See Me” … $15.8m -46.2%
- “The Internship” … $13.6m
- “After Earth” … $12.3m -55.3%
- “Epic” … $11.0m -33.8%
- “Star Trek Into Darkness” … $10.6m -36.8%
- “The Hangover Part III” … $9.0m -45.1%
- “Iron Man 3” … $5.1m -39.6%
- “The Great Gatsby” … $3.5m -46.3%