Box Office Beat: Weekend of March 22

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. Four new wide releases hit the multiplex tomorrow, the 24th birthday of yours truly, so let’s not dilly-dally. It’s time to crunch some numbers.

The CroodsUndoubtedly the highest-profile opener is DreamWorks Animation’s “The Croods,” which is the studio’s first film distributed by 20th Century Fox (their deal with Paramount expired last year). Despite this change, I don’t think the gross will be significantly different from prior releases. My feeling is that “The Croods” will do an average opening by DreamWorks standards. So the easiest way to put a number to that sentiment is for me to average every non-Aardman non-sequel the studio has released in the past 10 years (that’s nine in total). After I run those figures through the calculator, I get $49.6m. You could argue that the opening will be lower or higher than that because it’s Fox’s first attempt (either they’re finding their footing or they’re out to prove themselves). But who knows? What I do know for a fact, though, is that the highly successful “Oz the Great and Powerful” is directly competing for families, so that should shave “The Croods”’s gross down a bit. I’ll go with a $45 million opening.

Olympus Has FallenAlso likely to do well is “Olympus Has Fallen,” the modestly budgeted, campy action film about an attack on the White House starring Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, and Gerard Butler. Audiences loved this kind of thing a couple decades ago; “Independence Day” topped $300m at the domestic box office and “Air Force One” nearly hit $175m. That’s not to say that “Olympus Has Fallen,” released by the smaller studio FilmDistrict, will pull in anywhere near those numbers, just that it should be able to perform on the high end of expectations because I believe people are hungry for the return of such material. I’m thinking along the lines of “Red” ($21.8m), another Morgan Freeman film pitched at older guys from a middle-sized distributor (in that case, Summit). Or how about Butler’s “Law Abiding Citizen,” which pulled in $21.0m for the now defunct Overture? Yeah, the average of those two sounds about right: $21.4 million.

AdmissionThe last Hollywood film getting a wide release this weekend is “Admission,” a light-hearted rom-com starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd that has no visible box office buzz. It looks destined to play to senile senior audiences only. Looking at Fey and Rudd’s box office history, I see a trend among their mainstream non-hits: $7 million. “Our Idiot Brother” and “How Do You Know,” starring Rudd, scored $7.0m and $7.5m, respectively, and “The Invention of Lying,” featuring Fey in a supporting role, scored $7.0m as well. So that figure seems as good a prediction to me as any: $7 million.

Spring BreakersThe movie that’s got everybody in the blogosphere talking this weekend—Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers”—is likely to perform the worst. That’s not to say it will do poorly, given its $2m budget and the fact that this is startup distributor A24’s first big release. But after huge numbers in its exclusive bow of three NY/LA theaters last weekend, the film is likely to comparatively fizzle when it expands to 1,104 sites tomorrow. There are very few mainstream moviegoers who know who Harmony Korine is, so “Spring Breakers” is going to have to thrive on men seeing it it because it has Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Benson in bikinis, engaged in debauchery. Those actresses’ young female followings may (regrettably) show up as well, despite the film’s hard-R rating, although whether they sneak in or get Mom to buy them a ticket is anyone’s guess. I think that “Spring Breakers” will perform similarly to the all-girl horror flick “Sorority Row,” which featured lesser stars but was also released in over double the theaters, two factors that cancel each other out. I’m going to go with that film’s exact gross for my prediction: $5.1 million.

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

  1. “The Croods” … $45.0m
  2. “Oz the Great and Powerful” … $22.6m  -45.2%
  3. “Olympus Has Fallen” … $21.4m
  4. “The Call” … $7.4m  -56.8%
  5. “Admission” … $7.0m
  6. “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” … $6.6m  -35.1%
  7. “Spring Breakers” … $5.1m
  8. “Jack the Giant Slayer” … $4.5m  -28.7%
  9. “Identity Thief” … $3.3m  -25.3%
  10. “Snitch” … $2.6m  -25.8%