In anticipation of the upcoming blockbuster opening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Gerard Butler romantic comedy Playing for Keeps is the only new nationwide release this weekend. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't seem likely to score at the box office, and instead first place will come down to a battle between five holdovers. In fact, these titles will likely be so close that we won't know the clear winner until actuals report on Monday.
Not so long ago, Gerard Butler was a pretty safe bet at the box office. Putting aside the occasional stinker like Gamer, Butler had a solid post-300 run that included The Ugly Truth ($88.9 million), Law Abiding Citizen ($73.4 million) and The Bounty Hunter ($67.1 million). Unfortunately, October's Chasing Mavericks was Butler's first nationwide release in two-and-a-half years, and it's currently winding down its run with an atrocious $5.8 million.
Playing for Keeps will almost certainly do better than Chasing Mavericks, though probably not by much. Distributor FilmDistrict's middling marketing effort has never provided a clear hook, and the generic rom-com set-ups that are presented almost seem as if they are from a Funny or Die parody trailer. This is probably because the marketing team didn't have all that much to work with; as of Thursday afternoon, Playing for Keeps has the dreaded zero percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
It's worth noting that the movie was originally titled Playing the Field, which is a not-so-subtle reference to the fact that Butler's character reportedly scores with soccer moms in the movie. By stripping that aspect of the story out—which honestly was probably a good idea with a PG-13 rom-com—the marketing team wasn't left with much to go on aside from Butler's charm. FilmDistrict is currently expecting between $6 and $8 million for the weekend, though it wouldn't be surprising if the movie wound up lower.
In an attempt to take advantage of the lull at the box office, Open Road Films is pushing End of Watch back in to nationwide release at 1,249 locations. The cop thriller has earned a decent $39.2 million so far, and should be able to push past $40 million thanks to this expansion.
Forecast (Dec. 7-9) 1. Skyfall - $10.8 million (-38%) 2. Lincoln - $10.7 million (-20%) 3. Life of Pi - $10.2 million (-16%) 4. Rise of the Guardians - $10 million (-25%) 5. Breaking Dawn Part 2 - $8.7 million (-50%) -. Playing for Keeps - $5.9 million
Bar for Success Playing for Keeps needs at least $10 million to get a pass this weekend, and there's almost no chance that happens.