Box Office Beat: Weekend of May 25

Danny Baldwin's Box Office BeatHello and welcome back to Box Office Beat, the column in which I have experienced a total slump in correctly predicting weekend box office numbers as of late. Two weeks ago, I decided to stick with the general consensus on Dark Shadows rather than going with my gut, which told me to predict a more accurate figure, and got burned for it. That caused me to go with my gut on Battleship last week, rather than sticking with the consensus, which ended up burning me even worse. Let’s hope I can finally redeem myself, as I attempt to crunch the numbers for Men in Black 3 and The Chernobyl Diaries.

Men in Black IIIAfter two weeks of every single opener bombing badly, it seems logical that Men in Black 3 will do well. Up until this point, people have had The Avengers to re-watch or catch-up on, but now, they need something new. It’s officially summertime for most college students and some K-12 kids, so box office droughts can only last for so long. While many have questioned whether Men in Black is still relevant–the first one came out 15 years ago–it seems like people are willing to bite again. The reviews are generally positive and the ad campaign has been solid. So I’ll go out on a limb and predict that this one will open in line with the other two.

Adjusted for inflation, the first Men in Black made $73.2m opening weekend. But this time around, we have the Memorial Day holiday to grapple with. Let’s assume Memorial Day Monday will be two times greater than a normal Monday, bringing the first’s comparable four-day figure to $91.5m.

Finding a comparable figure from Men in Black II is equally hard because it opened on a Wednesday, and Thursday was the 4th of July. I think the best way to handle this is to simply to throw out opening Wednesday and treat the Thursday-Sunday frame as its four-day weekend. Accounting for inflation, that brings the comparable figure to $87.8m.

The average of the two figures is $89.6m, but there is one last question to broach before I finalize that number as my prediction: Will the 3-D and IMAX options for Men in Black 3, which result in surcharges, cause the gross to ascend even higher than the inflated openings of its predecessors? This is certainly possible, but I am going to assume that the increased ticket-price will merely compensate for the loss of viewers caused by #2’s overall terribleness. So I’m sticking with $89.6 million for my official prediction.

The Chernobyl DiariesAs for The Chernobyl Diaries — it’s much more difficult to find apt comparisons. On one hand, the found-footage sub-genre of horror has been on fire lately, with the Paranormal Activity series (also produced by Oren Peli) and The Devil Inside delivering huge openings. But at the same time, there doesn’t seem to be much buzz for this project and the last twentysomethings-go-to-Russia-and-crazy-shit-happens movie (The Darkest Hour) bombed big time. Finding appropriate general low-budget horror comparisons is difficult, as well – few believe that this will open as low as Silent House ($6.6m), for instance. Thus, I’m just going to predict a figure similar to that of the last horror release–Cabin in the Woods’ $17.9m (non-Holiday Monday doubled for comparison’s sake)–and shave off 20% due to the competition for young males posed by Men in Black 3. That gives The Chernobyl Diaries an opening of $14.3 million.

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

  1. Men in Black 3 … $89.6m
  2. The Avengers … $43.0m
  3. Battleship … $15.3m
  4. The Dictator … $14.4m
  5. The Chernobyl Diaries … $14.3m
  6. Dark Shadows … $9.5m
  7. What to Expect When You’re Expecting … $8.5m
  8. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel … $6.4m
  9. The Hunger Games … $2.8m
  10. Think Like a Man … $2.0m