Box Office Beat: Weekend of May 31

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 last week’s record-breaking Memorial Day frame, over which my predictions fared pretty well (10.3% off on the mondo-success “Fast & Furious 6,” 2.9% off on “The Hangover Part III,” and just 1.4% off on “Epic”), we should see a big slowdown on this normal three-day weekend. However, you can never count out Will Smith, who’s still the most consistent mega-star, so there’s a chance we have an unexpected breakout on our hands.

After EarthThat said, the reviews for “After Earth” are pretty bleak and even general audiences seem to be aware that director M. Night Shyamalan hasn’t made a good (or even tolerable) movie in nearly a decade. My thought is that the film will attract Smith’s core fan-base (which is sizable), but not much more. That likely means a decent opening gross in line with last summer’s “Men in Black 3” ($54.6m) and 2005’s “I, Robot” ($52.2m), but not the same legs (expect “After Earth” to do nearly half its box office over opening weekend). Conveniently, these opening grosses are also within the range of another blockbuster starring Will’s son Jaden, who is said to be the true lead of “After Earth”: 2010’s “The Karate Kid” remake, which pulled in $55.7m. I’ll make my prediction for “After Earth” the average of the three: $54.2 million.

Now You See MeIt would seem that Summit Entertainment is trying to sell their illusionist caper flick “Now You See Me” in the same way that they did their ex-spy ensemble hit “Red,” which also featured Morgan Freeman in a prominent supporting role, but unlike with that film, good reviews and online fan buzz are practically nonexistent here. The likelihood of this matching “Red”’s $21.8m opening is very small, especially because the top-billed stars (Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson) don’t have the pull of Bruce Willis or even Helen Mirren with older audiences. Similarly, the potential of an opening on par with the last big non-“Oceans” ensemble heist film of this variety, 2003’s “Italian Job” remake ($19.5m), which became a blockbuster thanks to positive word-of-mouth, is low. I’d propose an opening much closer to another magic-influenced film with Michael Caine in a supporting role, the $14.8 million of 2006’s “The Prestige.”

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

  1. “After Earth” … $54.2m
  2. “Fast & Furious 6” … $37.0m  -62.0%
  3. “Star Trek Into Darkness” … $20.5m  -45.0%
  4. “Epic” … $16.8m  -49.9%
  5. “The Hangover Part III” … $15.2m  -63.5%
  6. “Now You See Me” … $14.8m
  7. “Iron Man 3” … $10.6m  -45.1%
  8. “The Great Gatsby” … $6.5m  -52.0%
  9. “Mud” … $1.2m  -38.2%
  10. “42” … $0.7m  -44.4%