Box Office Beat: Weekend of May 10

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 rather unpredictable “Iron Man 3” is out of the way—my arbitrary guess ($160.8m) came within 8 percent of the actual figure ($174.1m)—we have two new openers that more easily stand up to comparisons, in that they’re unlikely to break any records. Yes, it’s the calm before the “Star Trek Into Darkness”-storm of next weekend, although Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” already seems to be performing better at 10 p.m. preview shows than the doomsdayers predicted when the movie’s release was pushed back from last December. Let’s crunch some numbers…

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The Great Gatsby“The Great Gatsby” marks rather uncharted box office territory for Luhrmann, whose best opening weekend performer (2008’s “Australia”) took in only $14.8m. Even the widely seen “Moulin Rouge” only grossed $57.4m total in its theatrical run — a figure that “The Great Gatsby” may even have an outside shot of besting on opening weekend (though I stress “outside shot”). And looking at star Leonardo DiCaprio’s box office history doesn’t provide much better comparisons, as his last big female-skewing releases were back in the ‘90s: Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” and the immortal “Titanic,” which made its record-breaking $600m over nearly a year in theaters, an unthinkable proposition today. Looking beyond that, there’s not a huge number of comparisons for postmodern, CGI-filled cinematic adaptations of modernist literature (actually, zero).

So I’m forced to set my predicting sights broader. I have a hunch that “Gatsby” will be big, judging by the many sellouts of tonight’s preview shows. So I’m going to say it’s among the biggest summer dramas with female-skewing audiences ever. That means its top 5 recent competitors are “The Help” ($169.7m total), “Seabiscuit” ($120.3m), “The Notebook” ($81.0m), “The Terminal” ($77.9m), and “The Time Traveler’s Wife” ($63.4m). The average of those figures is $102.5m. I also think “Gatsby” will be relatively front-loaded, given the time of year and DiCaprio’s star-power; say it does 40 percent of its gross during opening weekend. That’s $41m, but the number also has to be boosted for 3-D surcharges. My inclination, based on past releases, is that about 55 percent of tickets sold will be for 3-D, raising my prediction to $46.6 million.

Peeples“Peeples” is produced and “presented by” Tyler Perry, but not directed by or starring the popular funnyman. In fact, the recent commercials haven’t even mentioned Perry’s name, instead focusing on stars Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, and David Alan Grier. That means we can’t assume Perry’s usual floor of around $15 million will apply here. In fact, the 10 p.m. preview showings of “Peeples” tonight seem to have done downright poorly; not even the Regal Atlantic Station in Atlanta, where Perry films will routinely sell out up to 10 screens at once, posted a single sell-out to Fandango. So the box office indicators are not pointing in a rosy direction. Thus, we need to look at recent, lower-performing African-American-targeted comedies for the appropriate comps. These would include: “Beauty Shop” ($12.8m), “Breakin’ All the Rules” ($5.1m), “Deliver Us From Eva” ($6.6m), “The Fighting Temptations” ($11.8m), “The Honeymooners” ($5.5m), “Johnson Family Vacation” ($9.4m), “Just Wright” ($8.3m), “Roll Bounce” ($7.6m) and “Who’s Your Caddy?” ($2.8m). Hell, I’m just going to throw all of those numbers into a blender and make the average my prediction for “Peeples” — as scientific a method as any: $7.8 million.

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

  1. “Iron Man 3” … $66.2m  -62.0%
  2. “The Great Gatsby” … $46.6m
  3. “Peeples” … $7.8m
  4. “Pain & Gain” (review) … $4.7m  -37.4%
  5. “42” (review) … $4.2m  -30.6%
  6. “Oblivion” (review) … $3.4m  -39.7%
  7. “The Croods” (review) … $3.3m  -21.5%
  8. “Mud” … $2.4m  +11.1%
  9. “The Big Wedding” (review) … $2.0m  -48.5%
  10. “Oz the Great and Powerful” (review) … $1.0%  -52.7%