Box Office Predictions: March 1-3

A busy weekend at theaters as four new pictures try to shake up a rather sluggish box office in which only Melissa McCarthy’s Identity Thief has broken out with moviegoers.

Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer, a “reimagining” of the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale, was pushed back from its original June 2012 release date. The reason given was more time needed to work on visual effects. Singer has directed the well-received first two X-Men features, as well as the not-so well-received Superman Returns from 2006. With a huge $190 million dollar budget, Warner Bros. is taking quite a gamble here. It’s one that may not pay off. The picture’s trailers don’t seem to convey this as a “must-see” event and plenty of moviegoers may just wait until next weekend to see what appears to be 2013’s first real tentpole release, Oz the Great and Powerful. Anything below a $30 million opening would have to be considered disappointing and I suspect Slayer is headed in that direction.

Touting itself as from the writers of The Hangover is the R rated teen comedy 21 and Over. Shot on a puny $13 million budget, 21 and Over seems to have run a fairly effective marketing campaign and audiences might be ready for a raunchy comedy. On this very same weekend last year, a similar title (Project X) managed to exceed expectations and deliver a $21 million opening. There is even a small possibility 21 and Over could open #1 if Slayer falls far below expectations. An opening in the high teens for 21 seems likely, but it could tick up even higher.

Our next offering is The Last Exorcism Part II, the sequel to the successful 2010 original. This is another title looking to exceed expectations. I’m not so sure with this one, just like Slayer. While the original managed a truly impressive $20 million opening, it dropped fast. Audiences didn’t seem to particularly care for it, so the thought that they would be clamoring for a sequel seems unlikely. The second Exorcism may be lucky to open at half of  its predecessor’s gross. However, like most horror titles, it could surprise and deliver a much bigger opening than anticipated.

Last, and most certainly least, is Phantom. This submarine thriller, set in the 1960s, stars Ed Harris and David Duchovny. Inexplicably, it’s opening on a hefty 2,000 screens. This kind of movie has “made for TV” or “direct to DVD” written all over it. I have no idea how this got a major theatrical release. Expect it to post embarrassing numbers.

The three newbies talked about first should open 1-3. This leaves last weekend’s two top grossers, Identity Thief and Snitch, likely to round out the top five.

And with that, here are my box office predictions for the weekend:

1. Jack the Giant Slayer

Predicted Gross: $25.4 million

2. 21 and Over

Predicted Gross: $18 million

3. The Last Exorcism Part II

Predicted Gross: $10.6 million

4. Identity Thief

Predicted Gross: $8.2 million (representing a drop of 42%)

5. Snitch

Predicted Gross: $7.3 million (representing a drop of 45%)

Finally, I look for Phantom to open with a tiny $2.3 million.

Check back through the weekend as final numbers come in!

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