Box Office Predictions: Thanksgiving 2013

It’s going to be a busy Turkey Day weekend at the box office as six new titles find their way into the multiplex. Disney’s Frozen, the action pic Homefront with Jason Statham and James Franco, and the musical ensemble Black Nativity open wide while The Book Thief expands to around 1000 theaters and Spike Lee’s Oldboy and the Judi Dench drama Philomena play to around 500 screens. Whew.

You can my individual prediction posts on each new picture here:

Typically, during Thanksgiving the leftovers have very small drops because audiences like to catch up during the holidays. The one exception should be The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. In its second weekend, the pic should easily lose more than half the crowd of its debut weekend. The last two Twilight flicks opened the same pre-Thanksgiving weekend and saw second week falls in the 70% range. I don’t have Games falling quite that far.

Since there are so many newbies this weekend, I’ll change my normal Top Five predictions to Top Ten. Here they are:

1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Predicted Gross: $56.8 million (representing a drop of 64%)

2. Frozen

Predicted Gross: $48.3 million ($69.1 million for five-day opening)

3. Black Nativity

Predicted Gross: $19.3 million ($26.8 million for five-day opening)

4. Thor: The Dark World

Predicted Gross: $9.5 million (representing a drop of 32%)

5. Homefront

Predicted Gross: $8.7 million ($12.8 million for five-day opening)

6. The Best Man Holiday

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million (representing a drop of 42%)

7. The Book Thief

Predicted Gross: $5.6 million ($7.2 million for five-day opening)

8. Delivery Man

Predicted Gross: $5.5 million (representing a drop of 30%)

9. Free Birds

Predicted Gross: $4.7 million (representing a drop of 12%)

10. Philomena

Predicted Gross: $3.9 million ($5.1 million for five-day opening)

This means I am predicting Oldboy opens outside of the top ten with a $2.4 million Friday-to-Sunday opening tally and $3.5 million from Wednesday-to-Sunday.

I’ll have final results Sunday on the blog… have Turkey Day friends!

Philomena Box Office Prediction

Last November, Dame Judi Dench was appearing as M for the last time in Skyfall, which turned out to be the biggest 007 pic of all time. A year later, Philomena may not be a massive box office juggernaut, but it is garnering solid reviews (90% on Rotten Tomatoes) and awards buzz.

The British drama, costarring Steve Coogan, expands to approximately 500 theaters after a successful limited roll out this past weekend. While the film itself is probably a long shot for a Best Picture nod, Dench’s chances of receiving her seventh Oscar nomination are high.

Philomena may present a welcome opportunity for adult audiences to catch something a little different over the Thanksgiving weekend and it should post fairly decent results in its expansion.

Philomena opening weekend prediction: $3.9 million (Friday-to-Sunday), $5.1 million (Friday-to-Wednesday)

For my prediction on Disney’s Frozen, click here:

For Black Nativity, click here:

For Homefront, click here:

For The Book Thief, click here:

For Oldboy, click here:

The Book Thief Box Office Prediction

20th Century Fox had designs on positioning Brian Percival’s The Book Thief as an Oscar contender but this has been hindered by very mixed reviews. The pic currently sits at only 49% on Rotten Tomatoes.

However, Thief has been posting solid numbers in limited release at the box office and it expands to roughly 1000 theaters over the Thanksgiving weekend. The film is based on a bestselling novel from Markus Zusak and the World War II era drama stars Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, and Sophie Nelisse. This past weekend, Thief earned a commendable $605,000 on only 70 screens.

I would expect The Book Thief to earn decent though unspectacular numbers in its upcoming expansion, but I don’t envision this being much of an awards contender at all.

The Book Thief opening weekend prediction: $5.6 million (Friday-to-Sunday), $7.2 million (Wednesday-to-Sunday)

For my prediction on Disney’s Frozen, click here:

For Black Nativity, click here:

For Homefront, click here:

For Oldboy, click here:

For Philomena, click here:

Oldboy Box Office Prediction

Unless I’m really missing something here, Spike Lee’s Oldboy starring Josh Brolin and Samuel L. Jackson seems to be flying in way under the radar to an extent that I did not expect.

When this project was announced, this remake of a 2003 South Korean critically acclaimed cult favorite looked like it could be a high-profile fall release. However, Film District and Universal seem to have very little confidence in it. The marketing campaign has been muted and no mainstream reviews have been released at press time. If anything, its tepid marketing campaign reminds me of Ridley Scott’s The Counselor, another flick I thought would be more highly touted than it was. It ended up earning a paltry $7.8 million in its debut. Added to that, Oldboy is only being released on roughly 500 screens on Wednesday which will surely hinder its opening.

Add all that up and I’m not expecting a whole lot with Oldboy.

Oldboy opening weekend prediction: $2.4 million (Friday-to-Sunday), $3.5 million (Wednesday-to-Sunday)

For my prediction on Disney’s Frozen, click here:

For my Black Nativity prediction, click here:

For my Homefront prediction, click here:

For my prediction on The Book Thief, click here:

For my Philomena prediction, click here:

Homefront Box Office Prediction

The omnipresent James Franco is back in theaters again over the Thanksgiving weekend with Homefront, in which he plays a meth dealer dueling with a DEA agent played by Jason Statham. The film costars Winona Ryder and Kate Bosworth. Franco has been a busy man in 2013 with Oz the Great and Powerful, Spring Breakers, and This is the End. This is likely to be his least talked about picture.

While TV ads have been showing frequently for Homefront, I don’t see this doing a whole lotta business over the holiday frame. Recent Statham flicks have been met with lukewarm openings: 2011’s Killer Elite at $9.3M, 2012’s Safe with $7.8M, and this year’s Parker with $7 million. The screenplay is actually written by Sylvester Stallone, who once envisioned this as a starring vehicle for him. Reviews have been mostly negative so far.

The Thanksgiving time frame may allow Homefront slightly higher numbers than the last couple of Statham pics. Not much higher, though.

Homefront opening weekend prediction: $8.7 million (Friday-to-Sunday), $12.8 million (Wednesday-to-Sunday)

For my prediction on Disney’s Frozen, click here:

For my Black Nativity prediction, click here:

For my prediction on The Book Thief, click here:

For my Oldboy prediction, click here:

For my Philomena prediction, click here:

Black Nativity Box Office Prediction

Two weekends ago, African American audiences catapulted The Best Man Holiday to an astonishing $30 million opening weekend. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Fox Searchlight is hoping a similar result greets Black Nativity.

The musical drama features an all-star cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Mary J. Blige, and rapper Nas. The Christmas themed flick may well connect with its intended audience. While I don’t see it reaching Best Man Holiday numbers (even over the five-day Thanksgiving frame), I do see it posting a very solid opening that should make the studio quite happy.

Black Nativity opening weekend prediction: $19.3 million (Friday-to-Sunday), $26.8 million (Wednesday-to-Sunday)

For my prediction on Disney’s Frozen, click here:

For my Homefront prediction, click here:

For my prediction on The Book Thief, click here:

For my Oldboy prediction, click here:

For Philomena, click here:

Frozen Box Office Prediction

My onslaught of Thanksgiving box office predictions which includes six films opening or expanding begins with Disney’s animated Frozen, loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen.

The story of princesses and reindeer and (yes) a snow queen is likely to capture the attention of family audiences over the long holiday weekend. Reviews have been strong and it currently sits at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. Frozen will look to follow the same box office pattern as Tangled, which the studio opened over turkey weekend three years ago. That film captured $49.1 million over the Friday to Sunday portion of the holiday weekend and $68.7 million over the long Wednesday to Sunday frame.

It’s hard to imagine Frozen not having just about those same numbers this year. I don’t see it debuting much bigger than Tangled and don’t see it opening much smaller. Disney should be pleased with the results of their 53rd animated feature.

Frozen opening weekend prediction: $48.3 million (Friday to Sunday), $69.1 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Black Nativity prediction, click here:

For my Homefront prediction, click here:

For my prediction on The Book Thief, click here:

For my Oldboy prediction, click here:

For my Philomena prediction, click here:

Box Office Results: November 22-24

It may not have reached some of the lofty estimates that prognosticators put out there, but The Hunger Games: Catching Fire still broke the November record while having the #4 domestic opening of all time.

Catching Fire made $161.1 million, just outpacing the $160.8M debut of last year’s The Dark Knight Rises. This is slightly below my $166.7M estimate, which was a bit lower than many other predictions. This is still a terrific opening and was +6 higher than its predecessor in March of 2012.

Truth be told, everything grossed under what I estimated for the weekend. Thor: The Dark World was second with $14.1 million in its third weekend (lower than my $16.1M prediction) and The Best Man Holiday was third with $12.5 million in weekend #2 (lower than my $15.9M prediction).

Vince Vaughn’s Delivery Man was DOA with a fourth place opening at $8.2 million (under my $11.2M prediction). This continues a recent string of flops for the actor with titles that include The Watch and The Internship. The animated Free Birds was at the five spot with $5.3 million. I incorrectly had Last Vegas taking that spot with $6.2 million (it earned $4.4M).

Be sure to check the blog as the day rolls on when I’ll be posting predictions for SIX Thanksgiving releases: Frozen, Black Nativity, Homefront, Oldboy, The Book Thief, and Philomena.

We’re the Millers Movie Review

While there’s nothing really remarkable or particularly original about We’re the Millers, it still manages to provide quite a bit of raunchy fun with a more than capable cast to boot.

The pic reunites Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, stars of another (slightly better) R rated hit Horrible Bosses. Sudeikis is low-level pot dealer David, forced to go on a Mexican drug run by his quirky boss (Ed Helms, surprisingly ineffective in a broadly written role). Sudeikis enlists his stripper neighbor Rose (Aniston), 18 year-old virgin neighbor Kenny (Will Poulter), and runaway teenager Casey (Emma Roberts). Together – they are The Millers, posing as a family to divert suspicion from driving a tricked out RV across the Mexican border filled with two tons of marijuana.

Naturally, many things don’t go as planned and the Millers experience a number of adventures while – yes, arguing and yes, bonding just like a real family! You’ll see where We’re the Millers is heading from a mile away but the film works often because of its talented cast and frequent laugh out loud moments. While Aniston is stuck doing the “playing against type” naughty girl routine again (like in Bosses), she sells it well. Sudeikis is seamlessly making the transition from SNL MVP to movie star. And many of the most humorous moments come from supporting players Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn as Don and Edie Fitzgerald, another RV sporting couple who befriend the Millers. These two character actors work well enough together that I wouldn’t completely oppose a We’re the Fitzgeralds spinoff.

We’re the Millers is not Wedding Crashers or Superbad or The 40 Yr. Old Virgin – movies that I find myself quoting and going back to frequently. However, I’d put it on the level of a Date Night or Forgetting Sarah Marshall – movies that, when they’re rerunning on TV, I probably won’t turn off.

*** (out of four)

Taken 2 Movie Review

In early 2009, Taken was an unexpected smash hit that gave Liam Neeson a second career as a badass action star. The film was a B-movie treat in which ex CIA agent Bryan (Neeson) used his “very particular set of skills” to retrieve kidnapped daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) from Albanian sex traffickers.

Taken‘s box office success has led to this sequel nearly four years later. Original director Pierre Morel is out and the awesomely named Olivier Megaton is behind the camera, but original screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen return to pen the script. The concept is simple: instead of Kim being taken, this time it’s Mom – Lenore (Famke Janssen). Years after their divorce, Bryan and Lenore are starting to become a bit “taken” with each other again – if ya know what I mean. Mom and daughter join Bryan in Istanbul where he’s just finished a job and it’s not long before the father of one of the guy’s Bryan brutally offed in the original looks to exact revenge. He’s played by Rade Serbedziga, who gets to growl his way through dialogue about avenging his perv boy son’s death.

Much of Taken 2 simply feels by-the-numbers and the action isn’t as impressive as in the first. One problem is that Neeson doesn’t get to show off that particular set of skills enough. Too much of the pic is filled with lackluster car chases, though Neeson does involve Kim in the most intense driving demonstration since that high schooler drove Leslie Nielsen and John Houseman in The Naked Gun. The fact that Kim is dating her first boyfriend and taking her driving test for the third time involves some suspension of disbelief since the actress playing her is 30 years old. I’ll chalk that up to the rapid aging process due to her stressful first “vacation” in the original.

Truth be told, Taken 2 will hold your attention for its brisk 90 minutes, but this a prime example of an unnecessary sequel. The film even forecasts a potential third Taken towards the end. After all, these endless henchman Bryan is offing will always have vengeful relatives. How much “taking” can one family take? Taken 2 suggests stopping at one abduction probably would have been enough.

** (out of four)