Box Office Beat: Weekend of March 15

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. My accuracy doesn’t get much better than it was last weekend: I nailed “Oz the Great and Powerful” down to the decimal and I came within $400,000 of “Dead Man Down.” I’d quit the predictions game now if I didn’t enjoy writing this post so much. And on that note, let’s crunch some numbers on this weekend’s two new wide releases, both of which are almost certainly going to be beaten by “Oz”…

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: Box Office PredictionsWith big stars like Steve Carell and Jim Carrey, one might think that “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” was on the way to blockbuster success. But looking deeper at the film’s prospects, the odds are not in its favor. The main problem here is that, unlike most of the stars’ prior efforts, this film boasts virtually no appeal to the younger crowd. And by younger, I don’t just mean teens, but people under 35. Having seen the film (a review will be up tonight), I can say that it feels distinctly like an “old person’s movie” despite the fact that it’s a broad comedy. Thus, I feel that the best comparisons are the wide release comedies that Carell and Carrey have headlined, with similar target audiences. That list would include “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” ($19.1m), “Dan in Real Life” ($11.8m), “Man on the Moon” ($10.4m adjusted for inflation). Many would argue these comparisons are not apt because they are dramedies rather than full-fledged comedies, but I’d respond that they are far more apt than either star’s PG-13 rated, teen-targeted films. Thus, I’ll average the three for my prediction: $13.8 million, which would be a highly disappointing result for studio Warner Bros.

Box Office Predictions: The CallIn fact, I think there’s a small chance that the weekend’s lower-profile release, the R-rated thriller “The Call” starring Halle Berry, will beat “Burt Wonderstone.” It’s hard to predict what the film will make, as this genre went out of vogue about a decade ago, when Ashley Judd’s star began to fall. The only recent comparison that springs immediately to mind is 2008’s “Untraceable” ($11.4m opening), starring Diane Lane in another cat-and-mouse scenario. But here’s how I know $11.4m is a good figure: my “outside-the-box comparison,” last year’s “Alex Cross,” opened to that exact same amount. Hear me out: conventional-seeming thriller, trailer that makes the production look made-for-TV, popular African-American lead going against type, older-skewing target audience. Sure, “Alex Cross” was PG-13, but I don’t think that will matter much. There’s a chance “The Call” surges a little bit higher—“Phone Booth” and “Unstoppable” taught us that the caller-answerer dynamic is very popular among general audiences—but this figure is simply too convenient to resist: $11.4 million.

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

  1. “Oz the Great and Powerful” … $39.5m  -50.1%
  2. “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” … $13.8m
  3. “The Call” … $11.4m
  4. “Jack the Giant Slayer” … $5.4m  -45.1%
  5. “Identity Thief” … $4.6m  -27.4%
  6. “Snitch” … $3.5m  -31.3%
  7. “21 and Over” … $3.1m  -39.1%
  8. “Safe Haven” … $2.6m  -30.7%
  9. “Silver Linings Playbook” … 2.5m  -30.9%
  10. “Dead Man Down” … $2.4m  -55.1%