Thanks to the arrival of four new movies – Act of Valor, Gone, Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds, and Wanderlust – and some strong holdovers, the box office should maintain a healthy amount of depth this weekend, with many of grosses in the $10-20 million range. Still, we’re probably not looking at another frame like two weeks ago, when The Vow and Safe House both shattered industry expectations.
Which films will be on top, and which will more likely flop? Read on for my box office predictions:
1. Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds – $18 million
Tyler Perry is as consistent a box office draw as anyone in Hollywood. His movies usually debut right around $20 million – with his Madea movies scoring substantially higher grosses. His last non-Madea drama, For Colored Girls, opened with $19.5 million in November 2010, and although Good Deeds hasn’t been drumming up quite the same amount of excitement, I’m not counting it out. Online buzz for the film is rather low, but that is likely because Perry’s primary demographic, older women, aren’t as active on social media sites. If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that history has taught us not to doubt Mr. Perry’s appeal. Still, I just don’t see the heavier Good Deeds breaking out the same way as comedies like Why Did I Get Married?, which opened with $21.4 million. Give Deeds, which is playing in 2,132 theaters, a slightly smaller $18 million. (Lionsgate did not disclose budget information for this release.)
2. Act of Valor – $17 million
Relativity’s Act of Valor is an ambitious project. The film was financed for $12 million by the Bandito Brothers, but Relativity acquired it for $13 million and invested another $30 million in promotion – including a high-profile Super Bowl ad. The film’s major appeal comes from the fact that it stars real live Navy SEALs instead of trained Hollywood actors. Relativity has targeted males of all ages with aggressive campaigns in sports, gaming communities, and country music. (Keith Urban just released a music video for a song on the film’s soundtrack.) The last high-profile modern war movie, Green Zone, opened with $14.3 million on its way to an underwhelming $35.1 million total. But there is a key difference between Green Zone and Act of Valor that make me think the latter film will exceed the box office returns of the former.
Green Zone’s story followed the invasion of Baghdad in 2003, and when it debuted, America was still very much present in Iraq. The film offered no escape from the real Middle Eastern conflict that inundated our news media every day. Act of Valor, meanwhile, focuses on a fictional international terrorist plot, which the SEALs are trying to stop. Unrooting the situation from specific current events makes it a more palatable property for many audiences. Act of Valor could break out and burst into the number one spot, but I’ve learned better than to bet against Tyler Perry. Act should start with a sturdy $17 million out of 3,039 theaters over its first three days.
3. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – $13.8 million
The 3-D family film held up very well last weekend, and it shot to number one on President’s Day with a $6.1 million haul. With no new kiddie offerings this weekend, Journey may dip by a scant 30 percent to $13.8 million in its third weekend, which would lift its total to about $77 million.
4. Safe House – $13.5 million
The $80 million Denzel Washington thriller won’t top the box office for another weekend, but it should still do solid business in its third frame. Due to direct competition from Act of Valor, Safe House may fall by about 45 percent this weekend, leading to a $13.5 million take, which would put it at just about $100 million total.
5. The Vow –$12.5 million
This romantic drama will also pass the $100 million mark this weekend. A likely 45 percent drop would give the Rachel McAdams/Channing Tatum love story $12.5 million.
6. Wanderlust – $11 million
Wanderlust has a lot working in its favor: It stars Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd – both hugely likable comedic stars, it has no competition from any other R-rated comedies, and it’s earning some great reviews. But then, Wanderlust has a few things working against it as well: It has a strange title that many audiences won’t understand, it’s only getting released in a slim 2,001 theaters, and online ticket sales for the film haven’t been especially strong. Still, the comedy, which Universal produced for somewhere in the $30-40 million range, has been well-marketed, and it may laugh up an $11 million debut.
Gone, meanwhile, will likely struggle over its first three days. The film, made for a reported $28 million, hasn’t built much buzz leading up to its release – perhaps due to the fact that, judging from ads and trailers, it looks like a generic thriller. Star Amanda Seyfried’s last two films, Red Riding Hood ($37.7 million) and In Time ($37.5 million), have both majorly underperformed, but Gone seems headed to even worse results. The Summit title may start with about $6 million.
What are you planning on seeing this weekend?
For more box office coverage, follow me on Twitter: Follow @EWGradySmith