Weekend Forecast for May 25-27, 2012

By Reagen Sulewski

May 25, 2012

I bet there are aliens in there.

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Memorial Day Weekend is kind of a strange time for a horror film, though it's not totally without precedent – 2009 saw the release of Drag Me to Hell in this spot. This year we get Chernobyl Diaries, from the Paranormal Activity people. Kind of a mixture of Hostel and Wrong Turn, it follows a group of six American tourists who decide to go on an “extreme” tour of the abandoned town of Pripyat, center of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. After a day of exploring, they find out that they're not alone, and perhaps not everything left Pripyat when the evacuation orders were given. From there it would seem to turn into your standard “young people getting stalked by hillbilly killers” movie, just with the hook of radiation and a European setting.

Starring pretty much no one you've ever heard of, it's relying mostly on the location for its appeal, as there's almost nothing you haven't seen in any number of other films. This is going to be a definite test of the Oren Peli name and how successful he might be in breaking out of the Paranormal Franchise. That's something that's proven difficult for other horror “auteurs” - just ask James Wan about Dead Silence. In general, horror audiences aren't that willing to follow them into different types of movies, and they want only what they want. That said, horror kind of has a floor that it won't fall through, and the setting and setup should be good for around $10 million over three days and $12 million over four.

Which brings us back to the early juggernaut of summer, The Avengers, which after three weeks at the top of the box office, will probably cede that position. As a consolation prize, it'll hit the $500 million milestone, probably on Saturday, a full nine days faster than any film has done so before. The Dark Knight's $533 million is a triviality to be passed at this point, with the bigger prize of passing Titanic now in the realm of possibility. That'll be a difficult task, as natural projections would have it top out anywhere between $575 and $625 million, and thanks to Titanic's re-release, it stands at a difficult to reach $658 million domestically.

Internationally, it's a similar story, with the $1.2ish billion it already has placing it fourth all-time, and Harry Potter: The Last One sitting at around $1.3 billion. The $2.1 billion of Titanic worldwide is probably unreachable by The Avengers in this run, but $1.5, $1.6 billion? Not out of the question.

A lot is going to depend on how well it performs when it loses those pricey 3D screens, and whether it can start holding onto its business now that it's not the big dog of the weekend, and other tentpole pictures will distract potential repeat customers. For this weekend, I'd look for $36 million over three days, and $44 million over four.


Following this, we have the Hall of Misfiring Blockbusters, starting with Battleship. Although it's going to lean heavily on its strong international box office to spin the results (were they not aware it's based on a game? That might be the only explanation), the domestic start of $25 million is going to hurt tremendously. Word-of-mouth has not been particularly kind, and while few are saying it's out and out terrible, I think a lot of the first weekend business was from the morbidly curious. I think a three-day total of $13 million is in store here.

Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator opened to $17 million, or $24 million over five days, which is a significant step back from his days with Bruno and Borat. On the other hand, it's not that bad a performance for an actor who is probably more actively hated than the vast majority of people who could headline a film. In spite of ourselves, Cohen is making us laugh. While comedies are often the exact kind of film that finds out of nowhere legs, I don't think The Dictator is that film, especially since Cohen's act isn't really a surprise at this point. “It's better than you'd think” will have to do as an endorsement, along with $10 million for three days.

Definitely not getting that endorsement was Dark Shadows, which followed a disappointing opening weekend with a drop off a cliff. The Johnny Depp/Tim Burton collaboration should fall to around $7 million for the weekend, and should probably end up at around $75 million domestic.

Lastly, in terms of significant films, we have What To Expect When You're Expecting, a chick flick that even chicks had no time for. Despite a packed cast, it opened to only $10 million, and should drop to about $6 million this weekend.

Forecast: Weekend of May 25-27, 2012
Number of
Changes in Sites
from Last
Gross ($)
1 Men in Black III 4,248 New 58.6
2 The Avengers 3,918 -331 36.1
3 Battleship 3,702 +12 13.4
4 The Dictator 3,008 0 10.5
5 Chernobyl Diaries 2,433 New 10.3
6 Dark Shadows 3,404 -351 7.1
7 What to Expect When You're Expecting 3,021 0 6.3
8 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 1,233 +879 4.7
9 The Hunger Games 1,421 -643 2.0
10 Think Like a Man 786 -936 1.3

Continued:       1       2



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