Weekend Forecast for December 27-29, 2013

By Reagen Sulewski

December 24, 2013

Gentlemen, to evil!

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The second Justin Bieber concert film in three years, Believe enters the marketplace as the teen idol seems to be waning in popularity (hence the 1,000 venue count as opposed to Never Say Never's 3,000+). While it promises to follow the same format as the previous Bieber film, one wonders just how much left there is to tell about the singer, unless it wants to get into the bucket peeing incident in depth (which I'm guessing it's going to leave out). I'd expect this to fizzle, with $16 million in five days and $9 million in three.

An expansion rounds out the list of new films, with Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom making its way to around 850 venues. A biopic about the South African leader's origins as a civil rights activist and freedom fighter, through to his imprisonment and release, it is but just the most recent film to tell his story. Idris Elba stars as Mandela, with Naomie Harris playing his wife Winnie.

Accidentally very topical thanks to his recent death, it has so far received only a middling reception, and hasn't impressed in limited release. While a lot of the expectation might be that it's a potential awards winner, Elba hasn't made much of a dent in the guilds, although he did manage a Golden Globe nomination. This seems like a case of “important person, unimportant movie.” Give it $8 million over five days and $5 million over three.

The last time the calendar configuration worked this way for Christmas, it was 2002 and Peter Jackson topped the charts with a Tolkien movie, and Leonardo DiCaprio was challenging for top spot. Oh, how times have changed. The Hobbit Part 2 was a mild surprise as the weekend champ last weekend, holding off Anchorman 2 for the top spot with $31 million. That still represented a drop of almost 60% off its opening weekend, so while this weekend is historically a strong one where all films show legs, that relatively speaking means a bit of a drop. I'd expect about $25 million over three days, but long term prospects definitely have this film running below $300 million domestic now.


Anchorman 2's epic marketing campaign failed to result in a big increase from the first film's opening weekend, earning “just” $27 million. On this wild weekend, it's in the running to take the top spot if it can fight off sequelitis. Word-of-mouth is decent but not as heavy as with the first film, and the retread nature might put off a number of people. It could be a builder, as many wacky comedies are, but a more likely scenario is a slight drop to around $24 million.

The big winner in terms of relative business for Christmas week should be Frozen, which is both thematically appropriate for the weekend, but is also the main family film for the weekend. A major jump for Disney's main offering seems entirely likely, and $23 million is probably in the cards, as it vaults over the $200 million mark.

American Hustle earned a solid $19 million in its debut in wide release, converting its critical praise into a close fourth place finish. Word-of-mouth isn't as great as the reviews, though I don't think many are calling this a bad film, per se, and there's still a lot of awards attention to come for it. I'd expect a slight uptick to $20 million over the busy Christmas weekend.

Also continuing on with solid numbers are Saving Mr. Banks, the Disney/Mary Poppins film, Catching Fire, A Madea Christmas and Walking With Dinosaurs, with takes that should range from $7 to $11 million, and making it as many as 14 films earning over $5 million this weekend.

Forecast: Weekend of December 27-29, 2013
Number of
Changes in Sites
from Last
Gross ($)
1 The Wolf of Wall Street 2,537 New 27.3
2 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 3,928 0 25.4
3 Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues 3,507 0 24.5
4 Frozen 3,335 -205 23.6
5 American Hustle 2,507 0 20.6
6 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 2,909 New 18.6
7 Grudge Match 2,838 New 14.2
8 Saving Mr. Banks 2,110 0 11.5
9 47 Ronin 2,688 New 10.3
10 Believe 1,037 New 9.8
11 Catching Fire 2,315 -634 9.3
12 A Madea Christmas 1,788 -406 8.1
13 Walking With Dinosaurs 3,231 0 7.6
14 Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom 975 +971 5.5
15 Dhoom 3 N/A N/A 3.5

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