Box Office Beat: Weekend of May 24

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. After coming very close to nailing “Star Trek Into Darkness” last week, coming within three percent of its actual gross, I feel pretty good going into this four-day holiday frame. But with three new wide releases, anything can happen, so careful scrutinizing is in order. Let’s crunch some numbers…

Fast & Furious 6After reportedly lukewarm opening day attendance for “The Hangover Part III” today, it seems increasingly clear that “Fast & Furious 6” will take the top box office slot in a walk (a ride?). This is the franchise that keeps on growing, with the last installment, “Fast Five,” besting its predecessor “Fast and Furious”’s opening weekend by 21.5 percent. I have little doubt that this one will also surge—at the screening I attended, crowd reaction was thunderous—especially with a holiday Monday boosting usual attendance. But the question is: What’s the ceiling for these films? No matter how popular they get, my mother (let alone my grandmother) is obviously still not going to be showing up to see them. “Fast Five” already raked in the highest opening for a heist/caper movie ever. Its opening four-day (with a non-holiday Monday) was $92.4m. The only higher strictly-“guy movie” openings belong to the “Transformers” sequels, and they’re inopportune comparisons because they launched on Wednesday and Tuesday, respectively. So I’m left to throw out an arbitrary guess. How about $105 million for Friday through Monday.

The Hangover Part IIIAs I wrote above, the abominably reviewed “The Hangover Part III” looks to be in store for box office disappointment. Variety reported earlier today that matinee grosses suggested the film’s five-day opening would be in the neighborhood of $65 million. That’s less than half of what the previous installment did over the same five-day frame in 2011 (ouch). Frankly, any projection I can make is going to be worse than Variety’s in that they have real numbers to work with, so I’m going to go with theirs. The only question that remains is how the five days are distributed. “The Hangover Part II” did 23.4 percent of its five-day gross on Thursday. Anticipation for this one didn’t seem as high, so normally I’d think it would be less front-loaded, but the fact that “Fast & Furious 6” has some demo-crossover makes me think that more moviegoers saw “Hangover” today to get it out of the way, so they could see the car flick over the weekend. So I’m going to say that “The Hangover Part III” did a full quarter of its five-day gross today, meaning the four-day weekend should be $48.8 million.

EpicThat creates an opening for Fox and Blue Sky Animation’s “Epic” to take the number two slot, albeit not a huge one. Keep in mind, the similarly young-female-headlined adventure film “Brave” made just $75.3 million in its first four days — and that had Pixar’s prestigious name on it, which comes with a much larger built-in audience, including older people who don’t typically patronize kids’ fare. However, it’s worth noting that the market has been starved for true family films (if you don’t count the PG-13 rated “Iron Man 3” and “42”) since “The Croods,” which came out three months ago, so demand is likely high. Fox and Blue Sky have released three non-sequel originals in past years: “Ice Age” ($49.3m non-holiday four-day), “Rio” ($42.5m non-holiday four-day), and “Robots” ($38.5m non-holiday four-day). The average of those is $43.4m, which I’d say is about what “Epic” will do. Sure, it’s got a four-day weekend and 3-D surcharges (which only “Rio” had of those three) to boost the gross, but it doesn’t have quite the same star-power in the voice-cast as the others. Even though Beyoncé and Amanda Seyfried and Jason Sudeikis are well-known, I don’t think they have the same level of pull in this genre as a Robin Williams or an Anne Hathaway. So I’ll go with the aforementioned average: $43.4 million on the four-day.

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

  1. “Fast & Furious 6” … $105.0m
  2. “The Hangover Part III” … $48.8m
  3. “Epic” … $43.4m
  4. “Star Trek Into Darkness” … $42.8m  -39.0%
  5. “Iron Man 3” … $26.8m  -25.1%
  6. “The Great Gatsby” … $17.9m  -25.2%
  7. “Pain & Gain” … $2.6m  -19.7%
  8. “42” … $2.3m  -18.2%
  9. “The Croods” … $2.1m  -30.5%
  10. “Mud” … $2.0m  -10.3%