It’s Fourth of July weekend, everybody — America’s favorite time of year for picnics, fireworks, and Will Smith movies! In case you haven’t heard, the Biggest Movie Star in the World’s latest release, Hancock, got off to a stellar start on Tuesday evening, banking $6.8 million in preview screenings. And it added another $17.4 mil when it officially opened on Wednesday.
So, yeah, it’s a lock for the weekend win. But how big will it be against a slew of super-strong holdovers? And can the expanding kiddie hit Kit Kittredge: An American Girl put a dent in WALL-E’s shiny metal body? My predictions are below, and you can register yours in EW.com's Summer Box Office Challenge. Our game may not be as sparkly as a Roman Candle, but it’s 10 times the fun.
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
Columbia · PG-13 · 3,965 theaters · NEW
Here’s the place where I would ordinarily analyze Hancock’s plot and discuss why you may or may not go see it this weekend. But why bother? It doesn’t matter what Will Smith movies are about, because they all wind up being hits. Science fiction (Independence Day; I, Robot; Men in Black), action-horror (I Am Legend), romantic comedy (Hitch), animation (Shark Tale), thriller (Enemy of the State), even straight drama (The Pursuit of Happyness) — there’s no genre in which Smith isn’t hugely successful. And, amazingly enough, he seems to be getting more popular as the years go on: Last winter’s I Am Legend drew the actor’s biggest box-office bow yet ($77.2 mil) and second-best total domestic gross ($256.4 mil). So will Hancock, his first foray into superhero movies, be any different? Aw, hell no! When we combine Smith’s current track record, with the fact that the movie is the only major new thing in theaters, with the fact that it grossed $24.4 mil on its first day and a half, with the fact that this is the holiday weekend on which Smith has had so much success in the past (Independence Day and the Men in Black movies all opened mightily around July 4th)…we’re looking at a debut for the ages. The film’s Friday-to-Sunday numbers may not be as big as Iron Man’s $98.6 mil bow earlier this summer (after all, Transformers brought in $70.5 mil on this weekend last year, Hancock’s CinemaScore grade from audiences is a good-but-not-great B+, and I suppose it’s possible that some folks might actually avoid the multiplex this weekend). But they should be close.
Weekend prediction: $83 million
Walt Disney/Pixar · G · 3,992 theaters · 2nd weekend
Okay, clearly, I have a bit of a man-crush on Will Smith. Ah, well, I bet it’s something that most moviegoers can empathize with: Just look at how everybody fell in love with Pixar’s cuddly little robot last weekend! That $63.1 mil debut was sweet, indeed, and considering how well the animated flick has been holding on during the week (it has grossed more than $7.5 mil per day), a 33 percent decline on this holiday weekend is all I expect it to face.
Weekend prediction: $42 million
Universal · R · 3,185 theaters · 2nd weekend
And then there’s Angelina Jolie’s R-rated shoot-‘em-up, which has also struck gold at the box office. The film’s $50.9 mil debut far exceeded expectations, and it remains the only major truly adult action offering in theaters right now.
Weekend prediction: $28 million
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl
Picturehouse · G · 1,843 theaters · 3rd weekend
This live-action children’s movie features Academy Award nominee Abigail Breslin as a Depression-era lass, a role modeled on a doll in the American Girl line of toys. Then again, I suppose if you needed me to explain that to you, you’re not likely to be seeing this movie. But many others will: The film has been a smash in limited release for the past two weeks (it earned nearly half-a-million bucks in just five venues), and this expansion seems to be a sure thing, financially. The only minor — very minor — caveat is that Kit Kittredge may have a harder time striking it rich in cities that don’t have an American Girl Place store. Of course, if the success of movies like Hanna Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert ($65.3 mil) is any indication, that won’t matter: Tween girls adore a movie that’s made just for them.
Weekend prediction: $13 million
Warner Bros. · PG-13 · 3,574 theaters · 3rd weekend
Steve Carell’s spy spoof should clear the $100 mil mark by the end of the weekend, making it the Daily Show alum’s third live-action star vehicle — and sixth feature overall, including animated pics and flicks in which he had a supporting role — to do so. Could he be the next Will Smith? (Okay, probably not.)
Weekend prediction: $12 million