So that was fun. After a 2011 Christmas week of box office that saw many films underperform, 2012 is starting up with the genre that Hollywood profits off best: horror. Hey, it's your fault you didn't see the horse movie.
Weekend Forecast for January 6-8, 2012
By Reagen Sulewski
January 6, 2012
The Devil Inside, apart from stealing one of the potential titles from the Michael Hutchence biopic, is sort of the “you got peanut butter in my chocolate” of horror films, combining the exorcism genre with the fake documentary/found footage genre that's propelled a lot of mediocre looking horror films (hello, Paranormal Activity series) to great heights. That this film looks genuinely scary can only be a good thing for its prospects.
Starring a fairly anonymous group of actors, the film follows a young woman to Italy as she goes looking for her mother, who killed three people years ago, and was subsequently handed over to Vatican authorities and placed in a sanitarium, with the implication that there's a demon afoot. The daughter is afraid that she's next in line for an unwanted possession. Based on the trailer, it seems to be relying mostly on the “sudden action out of nowhere” for its scares. However, the use of digital video versus film makes them slightly more visceral and less movie-like, something that's been used to great effect in these films, particularly The Last Exorcism, which opened to $20 million in 2010 despite starring no one.
That was thanks to some great reviews and an innovative campaign, however, which The Devil Inside does not have (in fact, it hasn't even been screened for critics, which usually means crap). That probably doesn't matter all that much, as last year's The Rite opened to $14 million on the power of Anthony Hopkins in full slumming mode. The Devil Inside looks better than that movie, but its performance is going to depend on how much of an appetite there still is for exorcism films. I suspect it's reasonably strong, so I'd look for about $17 million this weekend.
This most likely leaves it running in second place to Mission:Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which exited the Christmas week in the best shape of all the hopefuls - $135 in the bank and two near $30 million weekends under its belt. Normal dropoffs start applying this weekend, but with some incredible word-of-mouth, it may be in store for a slightly extended run in January. This weekend should see it bring in about $19 million.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows has close to the same running total as Mission:Impossible, but with an extra week of wide release (even if they were technically released on the same date), so it's a mixed bag of news here. It's not a disaster, exactly, and international business is still to come in, but it's definitely running behind the first Sherlock Holmes film and is out of the warm cushy environ of Christmas. Despite pulling out the Holmes franchise's big villain, Professor Moriarty, consensus seems to be that Guy Ritchie and company have whiffed on this entry, making a third film a less certain thing. For this weekend, it should see about $12 million.
As much as Christmas week helps out family films, the period after than in January is just as cruel again. So for Alvin and the Chipmunks, the party is probably over. Despite the strong week, it's running between $50 and $80 million behind the other Chipmunk films, and that precipitous drop is likely to scare Fox away from inflicting a fourth movie on us. If all you wanted for Christmas was an end to this franchise, you may have gotten your wish (the bad news: Smurfs 2 comes out in 2013). It should drop down to about $8 million this weekend.
This maybe leaves room for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo to jump up a spot relatively, but it's still not looking great for this proto-franchise, which is currently sitting at about $60 million, and had just a $15 million weekend over New Year's. Whether it's backlash against a remake (that seems unlikely, seeing as how few of you actually saw the originals), or just simple distaste with the material (which is quite seedy), this opening film has failed to capitalize fully on the popularity of the books, and while Fox is undoubtedly going to try to push ahead with the next two films, they're going to be an even tougher sell. I'd give this $8 million as well this weekend.
War Horse and We Bought a Zoo fought off their ungainly titles for $40 million each over the Christmas holidays, and actually emerged OK considering expectations that they might just totally flop and take Matt Damon's and Steven Spielberg's careers with them. These two appear to be the family (as opposed to kiddie) choices over the last week ad ran more or less in parallel. That both prominently feature animals is probably just a coincidence. Of the two, War Horse probably has the best future potential since Oscars could be in the offing, but that's about the only way either of these films even approaches $100 million. The $8-9 million range will be crowded this week, as both of these films will likely add to it.
One significant expansion happens this week, as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the adaptation of the John Le Carre novel, moves to about 800 screens. A Cold War-era spy thriller that's been generating tremendous acclaim both for itself and Gary Oldman, who may be in for his first (as incredible as that fact seems) Oscar nomination. I'd look for just $6 million here this weekend, though.