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Weekend Forecast for November 17-20, 2011

By Reagen Sulewski

November 17, 2011

All this Robin Williams is giving me a headache.

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Okay, so it's blockbusters you want, is it? Then here's your frigging blockbusters! Hope you're happy (Note: You may not want blockbusters. If this is so, we are very, very, very sorry).

One good thing about the release of Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1 is that the Twilight scourge has almost passed us (that is, until someone decides to remake it, but with good actors this time, and take a second pass at that script). Along the way to setting back both feminism and vampire movies about 40 years, Twilight has become one of the biggest franchises in recent history, along with setting a bunch of single-day and weekend box office records (though the only significant record it holds now is largest November weekend).

In Breaking Dawn Part 1, the saga reaches new heights… of idiocy, as we're treated to a wedding of Bella and Edward and all the accompanying drama (“But Bella, we can't have garlic shrimp for an hors d'oeuvres!) and then a pregnancy, and then Joss Whedon suing the pants off everyone just because. Cue laughable special effects and horrible acting by all involved (Robert Pattinson, in particular, looks like someone longing for the sweet release of death at this point).

As much as I mock (and will continue to do so), there's little that's getting in the way of the returns of this franchise, other than the 24 hour clock. With fan interest up to a fever pitch and the end of the series approaching, the usual front-loading should be kicked up to an even more insane level. It's instructive to look at the recent end of the Harry Potter franchise, which originated this “split it into two” trick, and saw its opening weekends jump from the $70-80 million range to over $120 million. Drawing a direct comparison for Twilight is trickier, as there are fewer films to draw from, and the age range skews much higher. We do know that the midnight showings will be ridiculously lucrative – last summer's Eclipse brought in $68 million on its first day in large part due to millions and millions from bored housewives – and the opening weekend could very well surpass the $142 million of New Moon. Opening at over 4,000 venues, look for a weekend of $147 million.




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Another sequel will be taking the second place spot, though with considerably less hype. Happy Feet 2 brings dancing penguins back to the screen, whether you want it or not. The first film opened in the same spot five years ago, collecting $41 million opening weekend, as well as the Oscar, in an off-year for Pixar (Cars. Wait. Oh noooo!). Centering around a young penguin (voiced by Elijah Wood) learning to dance, the sequel Glees it up, turning the whole thing into a giant production number with pop music medleys, and letting Robin Williams run wild over it with vocal improvisation.

But perhaps I'm being a bit harsh – George Miller is getting to run the whole show here instead of sharing responsibility, and the last time this happened, we got Babe: Pig in the City, which is one of the best movies of all time (you think I'm kidding, but I'm not). Despite the obnoxious looking (and screechy high-pitched) ads, some reviews are hailing this as an interesting departure from the first film – overall, reviews are negative, however. Last time, there were no competing family films to get in the way, while this time we have the surging Puss in Boots to deal with. Typically, older films get out of the way of newer films, particularly in the family genre, even if there's legs involved. Opening in 3,600 venues, Happy Feet 2 should start off with $45 million.

After a ridiculous second week drop off, Puss in Boots showed a more reasonable fall, by about a quarter, to $24 million. It's well clear of the $100 million mark, and is showing almost the same behaviour as the original Shrek, as if there was some sort of weird box office DNA cloning experiment going on. I don't expect it to match the $270 million take of that film – for one thing, it's already $40 million behind the pace – but it's another example that just when we think old school legs are dead, a film is going to come along to surprise us. Happy Feet 2 may cut into that again, but I still expect it to earn third place with around $16 million.

At any rate, it should beat out the two not-very-impressive films from last weekend that opened ahead of it, Immortals and Jack and Jill. Neither seems to have any word-of-mouth support, and in the case of Jack & Jill, the threats to people who saw it may be working. I look for $15 and $10 million respectively for these two films.

Disappointment was the story of the weekend, as Tower Heist failed to rustle up any word-of-mouth and dropped to $12 million. Clint Eastwood's Oscar bait J. Edgar itself managed only a meager $11 million and should struggle mightily for end-of-year recognition. There's likely some expansion in the works for it, so it should see about $8 million this weekend, while Tower Heist falls to $7 million.


Forecast: Weekend of November 17-20, 2011
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 4,061 New 147.3
2 Happy Feet 2 3,606 New 45.1
3 Puss in Boots 3,415 -488 16.6
4 Immortals 3,120 +8 15.3
5 Jack and Jill 3,438 No Change 10.4
6 J. Edgar 1,947 +37 8.5
7 Tower Heist 2,939 -431 7.7
8 A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas 3D 1,808 -1,067 3.2
9 In Time 1,367 -1,224 2.5
10 Footloose 1,218 -997 1.8

     


 
 

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