Hello and welcome back to Box Office Beat, the column in which I predict the upcoming weekend’s box office results. Last year, this was a highly successful frame, with the surprise breakouts of “Ted” and “Magic Mike.” I’m doubtful we’re in for a repeat, however, because last weekend’s openers, “Monsters University” and “World War Z,” were both huge and should continue to be, while some moviegoers may be waiting for the also-likely-to-be-big “Despicable Me 2” and “The Lone Ranger,” which launch on Tuesday night. That is to say, the marketplace is crowded and something’s gotta give. So if either of the new openers manage to squeeze out more than $40 million this weekend, they will have pulled off a real feat.
“White House Down” is likely to be the bigger of the two new wide releases, at least over opening weekend. The obvious box office comparison is March’s “Olympus Has Fallen,” which similarly featured an invasion of the White House. That opened to $30.4m in a less crowded marketplace, although to be fair, it was released by a smaller studio (FilmDistrict) and Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart are no Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, star power-wise. But at the same time, Tatum has not really proven himself as a headliner of straight-up guy-targeted action films (he was hardly the main attraction in the “G.I. Joe”s), nor has Foxx in those rated PG-13. The “Olympus” gross is within the range of other modest action blockbuster releases in recent summers, like “Super 8” ($35.5m) and “The A-Team” ($25.7m). So I’ll go with it, for lack of a better indicator: $30.4 million. That would be director Roland Emmerich’s lowest opening ever in this genre, but as I said above, the marketplace is crowded and something’s gotta give.
Then there’s “The Heat,” which has been advertised up the wazoo (I think I’ve seen the trailer at least 100 times since it premiered early in the year) and comes from Paul Feig, the director of the massive success “Bridesmaids” ($26.2m), which also starred Melissa McCarthy. Additionally, “Bridesmaids” happens to be one of the only appropriate box office comparisons, being an R-rated comedy (not romantic-comedy) targeted at women. Outside of the “Sex & the City” movies, which already had an established audience, that’s a very, very small genre. You could make a case that McCarthy’s other film this year, “Identity Thief” ($34.6m), meets that definition, but its high gross was at least partially attributable to a lack of competition, so it’s not a great comparison. McCarthy’s co-star Sandra Bullock has never headlined an R-rated comedy, so her draw is hard to measure. (Bullock’s highest comedy opening in general was “The Proposal”’s $33.6m.) Thus, I think the gross of “Bridesmaids” is the best prediction for “The Heat”: $26.2 million.
My prediction for what the full top 10 will look like:
- “Monsters University” … $42.0m -49.0%
- “White House Down” … $30.4m
- “World War Z” … $27.9m -57.9%
- “The Heat” … $26.2m
- “Man of Steel” … $18.9m -54.2%
- “This is the End” … $8.6m -35.3%
- “Now You See Me” … $5.8m -26.4%
- “Fast & Furious 6” … $2.7m -45.2%
- “Star Trek Into Darkness” … $1.9m -40.0%
- “The Internship” … $1.7m -50.0%