Weekend Forecast for December 17-19, 2010

By Reagen Sulewski

December 17, 2010

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Directed by David O. Russell, the Fighter is sort of a spiritual cousin to The Wrestler, but much less depressing and mired in regret. A tale of family and determination, it's one of those sports movies that plays heavily to the underdog sentiment in all of us. Although Wahlberg isn't the actor with the strongest chance for recognition in this, he is the driving force behind getting people into theaters to see it. Comparisons to Invincible, where he played a walk-on Philadelphia Eagles player, seem relevant. That film opened to $17 million at 2,900 venues – the venue count is slightly smaller here and this film may need more time to build. Look for it to start with around $13 million.

Black Swan was the surprise of last weekend, with a $3 million finish on 90 screens, good for sixth place. It was a surprise not only for appearing that high on so few screens, but for the fact that it's a highly allegorical psycho-sexual lesbian drama about ballet. A regular Iron Man 2, that premise. Natalie Portman plays the lead dancer for a troupe performing Swan Lake, but who is thrust into a rivalry with another dancer, played by Mila Kunis, over their wildly divergent styles and their fitness for the roles of the White Swan, representing grace, and the Black Swan, representing sexuality. As their rivalry grows, Portman turns to self-mutilation – or is it an actual physical transformation?

Directed by Darren Aronofsky, who seems to enjoy being weird with film, Black Swan feels like an art film that's been thrust upon the general public – and being this much stranger than the room never quite helps with the box office. Then again, it's gotten this far, and Portman's role is all but assured to earn her an Oscar nomination, and very possibly a win. While it's difficult to imagine this have a double-digit million earning weekend, it's in all probability on its way to a largish final box office total. On close to 1,000 screens this weekend, expect around $6 million.

Last week's new films underwhelmed in virtually every respect, with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader winning a hollow victory at the top of the box office at $24 million. While it has the Christmas season to look forward to, its chances of breaking $100 million at this point are slim, a disastrous prospect for such an expensive film, and one that was hoped to help the Narnia franchise continue on. Getting all seven films in seems like a dicey prospect at this point, unless Walden Media has a stubborn streak. Both previous Narnia films have suffered huge second week drops of over 50 per cent, and I see no real reason to expect that to change. It should fall to about $11 million this weekend.


Things got worse for The Tourist after its $16 million opening weekend – it got nominated for multiple Golden Globes. Ordinarily that's something to take pride in, but not when it's greeted with guffaws and “that's the Globes for you”. While a Globe nomination rarely has a major boost to a film's box office, it's entirely possible it could be a final straw for this film's chances, as aggrieved viewers double their efforts to talk down the film. I doubt it'll need much help, and we should see it fall to about $8 million for its second weekend.

And now for a film that actually has good word-of-mouth. Tangled fell just one-third in its third weekend, easily crossing the $100 million mark, and looks to be the leading candidate for “film most helped by Christmas week”. It's always a wild, somewhat unpredictable week, but family films invariably lead the way in improving their performance during the stretch from Christmas to New Year's. That makes this weekend important for Tangled, as it needs to have a good baseline for that week. I scoff at the idea of Yogi Bear providing any kind of challenge to Tangled's audience, and it should come in with another $10 million weekend.

Harry Potter also has a decent amount at stake over Christmas, though it's been in steady free fall from its opening weekend. $300 million seems right out for a final total, but $275 seems easily in reach. Of course, it's already sitting at $260 million. Give it $4 million more, as it more or less bows out of box office contention.

Forecast: Weekend of December 17-19, 2010
Number of
Changes in Sites
from Last
Gross ($)
1 Tron: Legacy 3,451 New 47.6
2 Yogi Bear 3,515 New 26.8
3 How Do You Know 2,483 New 14.5
4 The Fighter 2,503 +2,499 13.7
5 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 3,555 0 11.3
6 Tangled 3,201 -364 10.1
7 The Tourist 2,756 0 8.2
8 Black Swan 959 +869 6.4
9 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 2,860 -717 3.9
10 Unstoppable 1,874 -1,093 2.4

Continued:       1       2       3



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