Counterprogramming is the name of the game over Super Bowl weekend this year. Both new releases—That Awkward Moment and Labor Day—are targeted at female audiences that may not be completely consumed by the insanely popular sporting event. Neither movie is poised to really break out, though, and it would be surprising if any title earns over $15 million this weekend.
Playing at 2,809 locations, That Awkward Moment could be in a tight race with Ride Along for first place. The R-rated romantic comedy is being sold mostly on the likeability of its three male leads, who have so far achieved varying levels of fame. Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan have seen their stars rise a bit in the last year thanks to their work in The Spectacular Now and Fruitvale Station; unfortunately, neither of those movies set the box office on fire, and it's unlikely that either actor is much of a draw yet.
Zac Efron, on the other hand, has a proven track record at the box office. So far, Efron has exclusively headlined three nationwide releases—17 Again, Charlie St. Cloud and The Lucky One. The worst among those was Charlie St. Cloud, which started with $12.4 million on its way to $31.2 million. That Awkward Moment is Efron's first major R-rated movie, though that shouldn't be too much of a deterrent; fans of his from the High School Musical era should be old enough now to buy an R-rated ticket.
Last Summer, FilmDistrict acquired domestic distribution rights to the movie for $1.5 million (at the time, it was called Are We Officially Dating?). Later in 2013, FilmDistrict merged with Focus Features, and That Awkward Moment marks the first release from the new Focus. The studio executed a targeted campaign geared toward younger women; while that's kept costs low, it also means the movie probably won't open too high. Still, it should earn at least $10 million this weekend, which is a fine start for a modest romantic comedy. Labor Day, adapted from Joyce Maynard's novel of the same name, opens at 2,584 theaters this weekend. Marketing is primarily focused on the movie's director (Jason Reitman) and two leads (Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin). Unfortunately, the movie is off-brand for Reitman—his previous outings all include a healthy dose of comedy—and Brolin hasn't really opened a movie yet. Winslet, on the other hand, has had modest success with similar fare, though a pairing with Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio wasn't enough to get 2008's Revolutionary Road past $23 million total. Labor Day's marketing has been geared toward older, more discerning moviegoers. Unfortunately, the movie was shut out of Oscar consideration, and is getting poor reviews (as of Thursday afternoon, it was hovering around 40 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). Paramount is currently expecting between $6 and $8 million this weekend, which seems like a safe bet.
Forecast (Jan. 31-Feb. 2) 1. That Awkward Moment - $12.1 million 2. Ride Along - $12 million (-44%) 3. The Nut Job - $7.9 million (-35%) 4. Frozen - $7.7 million (-15%) 5. Lone Survivor - $7.3 million (-43%) 6. Labor Day - $7.2 million Bar for Success That Awkward Moment and Labor Day are modest movies—both in budget and in marketing costs. As a result, both are in good shape if they get past $10 million this weekend. Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo, and follow author Ray Subers at @raysubers.