Traditionally thought of as a dumping ground for Hollywood’s poorest titles, January is typically home to movies that studios have very little hope for. In terms of box office revenue, only September can rival the bad receipts that movies see in January, and this year, things won’t be too much different. Even with four openers, the box office will continue to rely on strong holdovers to keep 2008 ahead of last year.
I’m going to go slightly against the grain of most box office analysts this week, and predict that First Sunday
will take the box office crown. Starring Ice Cube, Katt Williams, and SNL alum Tracy Morgan, First Sunday
is a black church comedy (I say “black” both because of the African American cast, and its crime theme) that follows two men as they attempt to rob their church. It will have playability among black and (to a lesser extent) churchgoing audiences, which have proven to be very lucrative with the success of Tyler Perry. January has proven to be a very good time to release movies aimed at black audiences: In 2006, Big Momma’s House 2
opened with $27.7 million, and on this very weekend in 2007, Stomp The Yard
earned a smashing $21.8 million. Not surprisingly, reviews
are terrible, but they’re kind of a non-factor for a film like this. ScreenGems’ First Sunday
launches into 2,213 theaters on Friday, and it might steal about $17 million over the weekend.
The Bucket List is not technically a new opener, but since it was only playing in 16 theaters last weekend, I’m going to count it as one. The story of two old men trying fulfill their life’s wishes before they die, The Bucket List stars screen legends Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Movies with two A-list, male actors usually do very well at the box office (see The Prestige, American Gangster, 3:10 To Yuma), but The Bucket List lacks an exciting punch, so its success will be more limited. This will play to a much older audience, who definitely read reviews, and the lackluster critical reception will hurt its chances at success. Still, the Warner Brothers feature with very likable leads is playing in a huge 2,895 theaters, and its sheer visibility will help it earn about $11.5 million over the weekend.
If you’re not an Evangelical Christian, you may not have heard of VeggieTales, a popular Christian-themed franchise that feature animated vegetables like Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato. This weekend, VeggieTales presents The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, the second feature film after 2002’s Jonah, which was a modest success ($25.5 million) for such a small movie. Five years later, The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything looks to match Jonah‘s success at best. Outside of its target audience, there has been literally no advertising for this film, which is strange to me, because with a family friendly story, it does have some crossover appeal. Also, it has the best reviews of the weekend, though that’s not saying much. Out in 1,336 theaters, the Universal kiddie-flick should just about match its predecessor’s numbers with a $6.5 million weekend.
The final new film of the weekend is In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. First off, does every film have to have a colon in the title these days? Between Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, I don’t know how many more punctuated titles I can take! Second, if you read my previous post about Uwe Boll, you know how unexcited I am for this video game adaptation starring the normally enjoyable Jason Statham. In The Name Of The King was originally supposed to debut in 2,500 theaters this weekend, but at some point during the week, 900 theater owners bailed out and decided not to play the film, which is a bad sign, and the Freestyle Releasing film was not screened for critics, which also does not bode well for it. Out in 1,605 theaters, Uwe Boll’s latest assault on the film industry might earn a truly terrible $3.5 million, giving it a spot outside the Top 12.
‘s primary competition for the top spot comes from Juno
. The indie comedy has enjoyed the #1 position for the entire week, and it expands even further this weekend into 2,448 theaters. It’s per theater average will dip a bit from last week’s phenomenal $8,239, but it should still be very strong. A $15 million weekend would give Juno
a sensational $71 million overall.
The big three holiday films should continue to perform solidly. National Treasure: Book of Secrets might pull in $11 million over the next three days, for a $187 million total. I Am Legend and Alvin and the Chipmunks should each pull in about $9 million, for totals of $240 million and $189 million, respectively. Behaving oppositely, One Missed Call should crumble down to about $5.5 million, for a $20 million total.
Finally, this weekend Atonement boosts its theater count to 950, and a $6 million weekend might result, which would give the period piece just over $26 million overall. The Kite Runner and the Spanish film The Orphanage each expand into about 700 theaters, and while they won’t make the Top 12 this weekend, each could end up with some solid business in the weeks to come if they can win some awards.
Predicted Top Twelve for January 11-13
1. First Sunday – $17 million
2. Juno – $15 million
3. The Bucket List – $11.5 million
4. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $11 million
5. I Am Legend – $9 million
6. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $9 million
7. The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything – $6.5 million
8. Atonement – $6 million
9. P.S. I Love You – $5.8 million
10. Charlie Wilson’s War – $5.5 million
11. The Water Horse – $4 million
12. Sweeney Todd – $3.7 million