Forecast: Six Movies Set to Battle on Chaotic Weekend
by Ray Subers
September 29, 2011
With no fewer than six movies fighting for the top spot, it's shaping up to be a hectic weekend at the box office. Anna Faris comedy What's Your Number? reaches around 3,100 screens at 3,002 theaters, while Daniel Craig thriller Dream House opens at roughly 2,850 screens at 2,660 locations and cancer comedy 50/50 debuts on around 2,600 screens at 2,458 theaters. Also, Christian flick Courageous hits approximately 1,400 screens at 1,161 locations, though it's unlikely to be in contention for the lead. Last week's top movies The Lion King (in 3D), Moneyball and Dolphin Tale have all generated solid word-of-mouth and should still be in the hunt. With most of these movies poised for low-teen millions (with the likely exception of Courageous), any one that reaches $15 million should be in line for a win.
What's Your Number? is the first Anna Faris vehicle since 2008's The House Bunny, which opened to $14.5 million on its way to $48.2 million. The movie's marketing is attempting to reach women with its interesting, relatable premise and the use of Pink's "Raise Your Glass" in most of the advertisements. This Summer's Bridesmaids and Bad Teacher reaffirmed there's an appetite for female-driven R-rated comedies, and while What's Your Number will surely open lower, it will benefit from being the only significant movie out right now specifically targeting adult women.
While 50/50's marketing does point out that the main character (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has cancer, the movie is mostly being framed as an upbeat, heartwarming comedy with the clever tagline "Beat the Odds." While Gordon-Levitt's star has been on the rise following (500) Days of Summer and Inception, the bigger name on 50/50 is Seth Rogen. This is actually Rogen's second cancer comedy after 2009's Funny People, which only opened to $22.7 million despite the presence of Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow. Even with great reviews and strong word-of-mouth from advanced screenings, 50/50 won't match Funny People's debut, though it doesn't need to in order to be in contention this weekend.
Surprisingly, Dream House has had a fairly quiet marketing effort considering the star power of Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts (though none have a ton of box office strength). Advertisements have toed the line between supernatural and psychological thriller, and many appear to spoil the central mystery regarding what happened to Craig's character's family. The genre ambiguity and potential spoiler should hold the movie back, and its results will likely err closer to movies in the less-successful psychological thriller genre. Universal Pictures is serving as the domestic distributor, and production company Morgan Creek is currently forecasting between $8 and $10 million for the weekend.
Family drama Courageous is from the writers and director of Fireproof, and it's looking to target the same Christian audience that drove that movie to a $6.8 million opening at the same time in 2008. Courageous is hitting significantly more theaters, though (1,161 vs. 839), and was the top-selling new release on Fandango as of Wednesday. That tends to be indicative of a lot of demand within a concentrated subset (in this case Christians), and the movie probably won't have a huge impact on the box office this weekend. Sony is distributing through their TriStar label, and they are shooting for a $5 to $6 million debut.
As of Thursday afternoon, 50/50 was leading in Box Office Mojo's "when will you see" polling with over 18 percent of users opting to see it on opening weekend. That's off from Funny People's 27.2 percent but almost double last year's disease comedy/drama Love and Other Drugs (9.5 percent). Dream House was second with 11 percent, followed by What's Your Number? at 8.3 percent (slightly up from The House Bunny's 7.8 percent) and Courageous at a fairly strong 6.3 percent.
Forecast (Sept. 30-Oct. 2) 1. What's Your Number? - $14.2 2. The Lion King - $14.1 3. 50/50 - $13.9 4. Dolphin Tale - $13.7 5. Moneyball - $13.1 6. Dream House - $10.5 7. Courageous - $7.5
Bar for Success What's Your Number? needs to end up around The House Bunny's $14.5 million, while low-teen millions seems fair for 50/50 and Dream House. With a wider release than Fireproof, Courageous needs to at least match that movie's $6.8 million.