Box Office Beat: Weekend of September 14

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. Well, except for last weekend’s, that is — can you believe that after writing this column for 17 weekends in a row, it completely slipped my mind? It’s hard to blame me, really, given how poorly the new films performed; “The Words” fared the best with just $4.8 million, while “The Cold Light of Day” and “Branded” managed only $1.8m and $240,000, respectively. Certainly, Hollywood hopes to do better this weekend — and if they don’t, there’s a good chance that the zombie apocalypse featured in one of the openers has become a reality. That is, of course, a reference to “Resident Evil: Retribution,” which will be squaring off against Disney’s 3-D reissue of Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” and the niche conservative release “Last Act of Courage.” Let’s crunch some numbers…

Resident Evil: Retribution“Resident Evil: Retribution” should prove fairly easy to predict in that the series has been remarkably consistent in terms of opening weekend box office (and in terms of the movies’ invariably crummy quality, but that’s another story). The second and third installments, “Apocalypse” and “Extinction,” pulled in very similar grosses of $23.0m and $23.7m, respectively, in their first three days. The fourth installment, “Afterlife,” showed a marginal uptick to $26.7m, but sold slightly fewer tickets than its immediate predecessors because it was offered in 3-D with a surcharge. This fifth entry into the franchise is also available in 3-D, so the gross should be similar. But it will likely experience the same small attendance decline due to the expected level of fatigue with a series this expansive. Thus, my weekend prediction is $25.0 million.

Finding Nemo 3-D“Finding Nemo 3-D” has been generating a lot of buzz, which is to be expected because the film is universally beloved and there hasn’t been a family release that has really caught fire since Pixar’s own “Brave,” all the way back in June. Last year, Disney released a 3-D version of “The Lion King” and it took everyone by surprise with a stunning $30.2m opening gross. And while “Nemo” is not as old as that film, meaning fewer kids in the new generation who haven’t seen it, its larger release size (over 600 more theaters than “The Lion King”, for nearly 3,000 total) should more than compensate. I’m predicting an exact repeat of last year — $30.2 million.

Last Ounce of CourageHad you asked me a month ago what “Last Ounce of Courage” would gross at the box office, first I would have asked “What movie?” and then, after researching it, I would have responded “Under $1m.” But with the breakout success of Rocky Mountain Pictures’ “2016: Obama’s America” last month, this next release from the conservative-minded distributor is all but doomed to such a fate. Obviously, the movie won’t ascend to the heights of Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary–it’s not topical or controversial enough for that–but Rocky Mountain has been able to capitalize on the success of “2016” and get “Last Ounce” lots of publicity on right-wing talk shows and Fox News. Even Chuck Norris has gotten behind it. I could see the movie scoring an opening weekend similar to the righty spoof “An American Carol” — meaning $3.7 million.

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

  1. “Finding Nemo 3D” … $30.2m
  2. “Resident Evil: Retribution” … $25.0m
  3. “The Possession” … $4.7m  -49.6%
  4. “Lawless” … $4.4m  -26.8%
  5. “Last Ounce of Courage” … $3.7m
  6. “The Expendables 2” … $3.0m  -39.4%
  7. “ParaNorman” … $2.9m  -30.9%
  8. “The Words” … $2.6m  -45.3%
  9. “The Bourne Legacy” … $2.5m  -37.0%
  10. “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” … $2.2m  -39.7%