Final Destination 5 is the latest in the consistently popular horror franchise, and its marketing has hewed closely with the franchise's death thrill ride angle. Perhaps too closely, as the only differences have been in the particulars of the deaths and no new twist has been promised. With the last movie, The Final Destination, 3D was the twist, and that helped push it to a $27.4 million opening weekend in Aug. 2009. 3D accounted for 70 percent of its gross with 1,678 locations (out of 3,121 total). While FD5 has a larger 3D presence, 2,800 screens at 2,515 locations, 3D has cooled since FD4 and has not been the focal point of FD5's marketing. FD4 was also promoted as the final Final Destination.
Not helping Final Destination 5's cause is that FD4 has been regarded as the worst of the series, earning the series' lowest marks from IMDb users and Box Office Mojo readers. Though FD4 was the highest grossing of the franchise at $66.5 million, it was the least-attended. This has been reflected in Box Office Mojo's "when will you see it" reader polling: FD5 scored 15.6 percent for opening weekend, trailing FD4's 21.1 percent and FD3's 16.3 percent.
The Help had a solid mid-week launch, grossing $9.9 million on Wednesday and Thursday. The female-driven book adaptation's been well-positioned like previous August entries Julie & Julia and Eat Pray Love and has rated relatively well in Box Office Mojo's polling, nearly doubling The Secret Life of Bees with a 7.9 percent score for opening weekend.
30 Minutes or Less aims for the action comedy audience that made Pineapple Express a hit in Aug. 2008, but its premise of an innocent guy who gets strapped to a bomb and is forced to rob a bank seems more appropriate for an action thriller. Then again, director Ruben Fleisher and company pulled off a commercially difficult genre mash-up with Zombieland ($24.7 million opening weekend). The "when will you see it" polling results haven't provided a good read on this movie's potential: it's sporting under 14 percent for opening weekend, which is less than half of Zombieland, on par with Adventureland and stronger than The Change-Up from last weekend (9.6 percent), suggesting an opening as high as $19 million and as low as $6 million.
Meanwhile, the Glee concert movie will have to overcome the stigma of "why pay for something that's free on television?" Not only that, it's something that's just a bonus to the TV show and not something essential that moves the story forward. It's strictly for the hardcore fans of the show, so only a fraction of the eight to 12 million people who watch first-run episodes weekly will see it.
After conquering last weekend with $54.8 million, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the frontrunner to lead this weekend. However, its weekday numbers have not been encouraging for a strong hold, pointing to a drop of over 50 percent.
The Forecast, Aug. 12-14 1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes - $25 million 2. Final Destination 5 - $21 million 3. The Help - $20.5 million 4. The Smurfs - $13 million 5. 30 Minutes or Less - $12.5 million - Glee: The 3D Concert Movie - $8 million
Bar for Success Final Destination 5 doesn't need to build on its predecessor to keep the franchise alive, but it still needs a solid retention. An opening in the low-to-mid $20 million range would be fine. Given its literary and crowd-pleasing credentials, The Help needs to come close to the movies that inspired its release date, Julie & Julia and Eat Pray Love. A decent showing for 30 Minutes or Less would be in the high teen millions, while Glee needs to at least out-shine the Jonas Brothers ($12.5 million).