Weekend Forecast for October 23-25, 2009

By Reagen Sulewski

October 23, 2009

It looks like Jigsaw's gotten himself one of those Bill Belichick hoodies.

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I'm not sure that Astroboy still has a lot of resonance with today's youth, as I'm not particularly aware of it running anywhere. Much like last year's (somewhat misunderstood) Speed Racer, it's a nostalgia project in search of an audience – kids don't know it and adults are probably too embarrassed to see it themselves. Which is to say nothing of the fact that while it looks very slick and shiny, they appear to have badly whiffed on the tone of the film, going for cheese instead of playing it relatively straight. I'd look for just $9 million this weekend for this.

Continuing the throughline for this week's new films, we have Amelia, which... has people flying. Okay, this one's not as strong as the rest. Sort of the unofficial start to Oscar season, this is the biography of pioneering female pilot Amelia Earhart, who came to fame in the 1930s in the early days of aviation.

Hilary Swank plays Earhart in a role that seems designed to get her a third Oscar nomination, though the Academy has to be sick of her already. More troublesome are the reviews, which criticize the film as a shallow take on the life of the pilot and her disappearance on an around-the-world trip attempt in 1937. Also starring Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor and Chris Eccelston and directed by noted Indian director Mira Nair, Amelia is opening on just 818 screens in a sort of mid-platform strategy. I think this is ultimately going to be a bit of a losing strategy, and it should see an opening weekend of just $7 million.

Those top three openers, a mix of horror and family fare, will face stiff competition from returning films, if it truly is a big factor. I've never been that convinced, as audiences are usually looking for the new and shiny, but there are isolated incidents where competition can be more or less proven. This could be one of those, as we have Where the Wild Things Are, an expanding Paranormal Activity and The Stepfather as direct competition to this week's new films, along with the surprisingly strong Law Abiding Citizen.


Paranormal more than doubles its screen count after making the top three with an under-the-radar campaign. The spooky "home video" style horror film has so far earned about $40 million, and could, depending on word-of-mouth, rival The Blair Witch Project as the most profitable film ever. This should be a solid second on the weekend with about $22 million.

Spike Jonze's adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are is the rare example of nostalgic filmmaking done right, and managed $32 million in change in its debut. Still, people had a lot of high hopes for Jonze artistically with this one and he didn't quite match them, so I'd expect lukewarm word-of-mouth here. The second weekend ought to be good for about $18 milllion.

Something's got to give with all these films earning in the teens, and I expect it to be Law Abiding Citizen. Admittedly, reviews seemed to be irrelevant in the first place, but sometimes people just have to drink the milk to believe it's sour. Second weekend should be about $10 million here.

Elsewhere, the third weekend of the really poorly regarded couples comedy Couples Retreat should slide in with about $9 million, while The Stepfather should fall off the map to about $5 million.

Forecast: Weekend of October 23-25, 2009
Number of
Changes in Sites
from Last
Gross ($)
1 Saw VI 3,036 New 31.2
2 Paranormal Activity 1,945 +1,185 22.3
3 Where the Wild Things Are 3,735 0 18.4
4 Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant 2,754 New 13.1
5 Law Abiding Citizen 2,890 0 9.9
6 Astroboy 3,014 New 9.2
7 Couples Retreat 3,074 +65 9.0
8 Amelia 818 New 7.6
9 The Stepfather 2,734 0 5.2
10 Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2,741 -296 4.7

Continued:       1       2



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