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Weekend Forecast for April 2-4, 2010

By Reagen Sulewski

April 2, 2010

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The Last Song sees an unholy alliance forming between two of pop culture's recent demons – Miley Cyrus and Nicolas Sparks. The dude behind The Notebook and Dear John, and the chick behind, well, Miley Cyrus team up for one of those cookie cutter romances involving beaches, rain and swirling music that teen girls will swoon over.

This time, the music is literal, considering our star, who plays a young girl that gets set to spend a summer at her estranged father's cabin on a Southern beach where they reconnect via music. And yet, there's a boy! Of course. Played by something called Liam Helmsworth, he's her crush for the summer as she learns to yada yada yada and... cue violins. Dear John was something of a pre-Valentine's Day shock, earning $30 million in its first weekend, which definitely lays out the possibility that this film could do even more, jumping off Cyrus' popularity. I question whether it really exists outside the Hannah Montana world, and lots of other stars have had difficulty in turning their Disney-fueled success into bigger things. The Mouse House knows promotion, to be sure. With the recent failure of Remember Me, banking on teen heartthrobness isn't as sure a bet as people expect.

It's tougher to argue against the Sparks connection, with only Nights in Rodanthe disappointing (though with a less appealing cast and a terrible title). Opening a couple days early, it grabbed $5 million on Wednesday, which is solid but not spectacular. I think we'll find that the Valentine's Day connection mattered more than we thought for Dear John, and we should see a bit of a step back both for Sparks and Cyrus, but with a still solid $22 million opening weekend.




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How To Train Your Dragon only gets one weekend of monopoly on 3D screens, but I expect that's not as big an issue as one might expect for it. The animated film opened to just $43 million, which even the general public seemed to catch onto as a disappointment. It may, in a way, have won by losing, as it's gotten a tremendously positive reception from those who've seen it, and the fact that it disappointed slightly may inspire some advocacy. And while Paramount DreamWorks undoubtedly expected more for their investment in technology, I'm not convinced that 3D is as much of a driver for animated films as it is for live action, and doesn't carry the same wow factor. This should all carry over into a solid second weekend for this film, with around $28 million possible.

By the time you read this, Alice in Wonderland will be the first $300 million film of 2010, just barely into April. That's an achievement in and of itself, let alone for taking people by surprise in doing so. It's even weathered the loss of its 3D screens well, dropping a remarkably consistent 45 to 48 percent in these last three weeks. We're probably looking at a $325-330 million final total for this film, which I'm not sure anyone could plausibly have predicted coming into this. Look for around $9 million this weekend.

In the end, Hot Tub Time Machine just couldn't overcome its title. The wacky time travel comedy opened to $14 million, which is tough to count as a loss, but still feels like a missed opportunity for a film with John Cusack, Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson. Cusack in particular should be worth more than Dude, Where's My Car money. I don't expect anything in the way of legs on this, with perhaps as little as $6 million for its second weekend.

The other two notable returning films are The Bounty Hunter and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Aniston/Butler media coverage kicked into overdrive in the last couple of weeks in what seems like a last-ditch effort to salvage Bounty Hunter's road comedy, but we're still looking for it to top out at around $75 million. Wimpy Kid, on the other hand, nearly fell off a cliff and this hoped-for franchise looks murkier after this weekend. At least it's cheap. Give each of these films between $5 and 7 million this frame.


Forecast: Weekend of April 2-4, 2010
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 Clash of the Titans 3,777 New 56.4
2 How to Train Your Dragon 4,060 +5 27.9
3 Why Did I Get Married Too 2,155 New 24.6
4 The Last Song 2,673 New 22.3
5 Alice in Wonderland 2,980 -404 9.5
6 The Bounty Hunter 3,118 +44 7.1
7 Hot Tub Time Machine 2,771 +17 6.8
8 Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2,842 -241 6.5
9 Green Zone 1,255 -1,320 2.6
10 Shutter Island 1,356 -767 2.4

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