Box Office Beat: Weekend of October 5

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. Last weekend, the animated family comedy “Hotel Transylvania” and the sci-fi allegory “Looper” opened to unexpectedly high numbers, and this weekend’s new wide releases–“Taken 2,” “Frankenweenie,” and “Pitch Perfect”–should keep the momentum high. Let’s crunch some numbers…

Taken 2“Taken 2,once again starring Liam Neeson as a retired C.I.A. agent trying to save his family from captors, should easily top the chart, as the first film grossed a whopping $145m domestic total — and that was with a pirated version widely available because it had already been released on DVD in Europe. The reviews are nowhere as good for this installment–in fact, they’re downright brutal–so I doubt that word-of-mouth will be as good. But the total domestic box office should still be in the $120m range. The question is how front-loaded the movie will be. Its predecessor had long legs (the opening was under $25m), but that’s partially because it came out on Super Bowl weekend, when Sunday is a dead-zone. Thus, it’s probably better to use the internal multiplier of another Luc Besson-produced sequel, “Transporter 2,” for comparison purposes. That was 2.61, which would put “Taken 2”’s opening weekend at a very healthy $46 million.

FrankenweenieTim Burton’s “Frankenweenie,distributed by Disney, is a huge gamble on its face: an animated family film in black-and-white. (One wonders how many clueless parents will complain about the lack of color, thinking that it is a projection problem.) But this kind of creepy animation, which tends to appeal more to college-aged Burton fans than kids, is certainly not unprecedented for the director. One could argue that the success of the similarly Halloween-themed “Hotel Transylvania” could harm “Frankenweenie” at the box office, but I think the target audiences are different enough (the latter skews older and more serious) that the competition won’t have much of an effect. Thus, I am predicting that “Frankenweenie” opens identically to Burton’s last stop-motion feature, “Corpse Bride,” meaning a weekend of $19.1 million. I’m mildly tempted to go a little bit higher because that film did not have IMAX or 3-D surcharges tacked onto the ticket price, but I’ll refrain due to the alienating nature of B&W.

Lastly, there’s “Pitch Perfect,” the A capella musical comedy that had a stunningly good limited bow in 335 theaters last weekend, grossing double what anyone predicted: $5.1 million, for a per-theater-average over $15,000. That presumably built word-of-mouth exactly like Universal intended for the release to do, as the reactions from audiences and critics alike have generally been positive. And while the film is unlikely to ascend to the box office ceiling for female-targeted school pics–that would be “Mean Girls,” which opened to nearly $25 million–it should soar reasonably high. I see a wide launch similar to that of “Easy A,” which opened around the same time last year to $17.7 million — which I’ll make my official prediction for “Pitch Perfect.”

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

  1. “Taken 2” … $46.0m
  2. “Hotel Transylvania” … $25.5m  -40.0%
  3. “Frankenweenie” … $19.1m
  4. “Pitch Perfect” … $17.7m  +343.8%
  5. “Looper” … $10.8m  -48.1%
  6. “End of Watch” … $4.5m  -42.4%
  7. “Trouble with the Curve … $4.4m  -39.5%
  8. “House at the End of the Street” … $3.5m  -50.9%
  9. “Finding Nemo 3-D” … $2.4m  -40.5%
  10. “The Master” … $1.7m  -36.6%