It’s Super Bowl Weekend this weekend, and in terms of the box office, that means it’s time for counter-programming. With every man in the U.S. glued to the sofa on Sunday, studios traditionally hope to release movies that will engage female viewers. But the curious thing about this year is that among the three new releases, it seems that the harder they target women, the less box office potential they have. Opening this week is the male oriented action film, Taken, a psycho-stepmom horror flick, The Uninvited, and a generic romantic comedy, New In Town. Strangely enough, as the subject matter gets girlier, the receipts should be lower.
The number one film this weekend will be Fox’s Taken, which is getting a huge release into 3,183 theaters. The film, which stars Liam Neeson, will have to make almost all of its money on Friday and Satruday, since the Super Bowl will absolutely obliterate ticket sales. Taken tells the story of a retired CIA agent, who must rescue his daughter and her friend when they are abducted in France. Besides Neeson, the film stars two beautiful actresses who have been written off popular TV shows, Maggie Grace (killed off of Lost) and Famke Jansen (her character left when she turned out to be a man on Nip/Tuck). Despite the lack of Sunday box office, awareness is pretty good for this one, advertising has been effective, and it’s got some fairly good reviews. All of this should lead to a nice $19 million weekend.
The only other newcomer competing for the top spot this weekend is The Uninvited, the latest in what has become a veritable parade of horror movies this January. The feature from Paramount stars Elizabth Banks as a woman who comes to tend to a sick father’s bedside. All of the sudden, though, the man’s wife has died, and he has become engaged to this younger woman. His daughters are creeped out by the new fling, and they set out to get to the bottom of what’s going on. It’s a mixture of a ghost story and a psychotic stepmom story. The advertising on this has been strong and highly effective, giving audiences a good idea of the plot. Also, with a PG-13 rating, and three central female characters, this seems like a horror release that is woman-friendly, which should help it a bit this weekend. For a movie of this genre, reviews aren’t bad, and earlier in January The Unborn, My Bloody Valentine: 3D, and Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans all managed to open in the $19-22 million range, and while the Super Bowl will take that dwn a notch, I don’t why audiences would have just suddenly gotten tired of horror again. Almost every other box office prediction is giving this an $11-12 million opening, but I think The Uninvited, which is flying into 2,344 theaters, is looking at $17 million over the weekend.
The final new release of the weekend is the only offering that is truly targeting women, but its prospects are still looking grim. New In Town is a romantic “comedy” from Lionsgate starring Puffy Face herself, Renee Zellweger, and Harry Connick Jr.. (I will admit that she looks a bit less “puffy” in this movie, so maybe she’s taking it easy on the botox…) The plot here is so thin that I won’t even go over it, but suffice it to say, it looks terrible. Like Bride Wars terrible. I’m pretty sure winning the Oscar for Best Actress is actually a curse that makes all of your following films extremely bad, because I don’t see why else Zellweger would sign on to this. I guess she just needs work like anyone else. Reviews are awful, it’s getting a release of 1,941 theaters, and there’s been minimal advertising for this stinker. Give New In Town $6.5 million for the frame.
Among holdovers, Paul Blart: Mall Cop is still very much a force to be reckoned with. Since the Sandler-produced comedy is a film geared at young males, it will drop a bit harder this weekend, but a 45% drop will still give it $12 million for the weekend, and $80 million overall. Clint Eastwood’s box office stalwart, Gran Torino, will continue its great run, and a 40% drop will put the film at $10 million for the weekend and $111 total. Given the geek factor and the Super Bowl factor, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans should see a fanboy-style drop of about 60% to $8 million. Meanwhile, Slumdog Millionaire should continue its increible resilience as it expands into about 200 more theaters, which might give it a sweet 12th weekend of $8 million. Here’s my full forecast for the weekend:
Predicted Top 12 For January 30-February 1
1. Taken – $19 million
2. The Uninvited – $17 million
3. Paul Blart: Mall Cop – $12 million
4. Gran Torino – $10 million
5. Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans – $8 million
6. Slumdog Millionaire – $8 million
7. Hotel For Dogs – $7.5 million
8. New In Town – $6.5 million
9. The Curious Case Of Benajmin Button – $4.5 million
10. My Bloody Valentine: 3D – $4.3 million
11. Bride Wars – $4 million
12. Inkheart – $3 million
What do you all think of my forecast? Does it make sense, or am I as hopeless as The Cardinals on Sunday? Let’s hear your predictions in the comments! Go Steelers!