Forecast: 80s Remakes Battle Over President's Day Weekend
by Ray Subers
February 13, 2014
Over President's Day weekend, The LEGO Movie should hold on to first place ahead of three 80s remakes. With its strong Valentine's Day appeal, About Last Night will likely be the strongest of the newcomers, while Robocop will have a tough time bouncing back from its poor Wednesday opening.
With the East Coast buried under a nasty snowstorm on Wednesday and Thursday, there will be a lot of talk about the weather's effect on the box office. While some people will inevitably stay away from theaters, the aggregate impact is often overstated: comparing week-over-week drops during similar events suggests a 10-to-12 percent drop in box office is the worst-case scenario.
The RoboCop remake got a jump on the competition by opening at 3,372 locations on Wednesday. This is Sony/Columbia's second remake of a Paul Verhoeven sci-fi movie—the first was 2012's Total Recall, which opened to $25.6 million on its way to a disappointing $58.9 million.
For RoboCop, Sony has done a better job explaining the premise ("We're going to put a man inside a machine") and making the story relevant to modern audiences (drone surveillance, in particular, has been prominently featured). As with Total Recall, though, there were a few choices made that alienated fans of the original. While the color of Robocop's suit sparked some controversy, the real issue with fans is the rating: the original is notorious for its over-the-top violence, which won't be replicated in the PG-13 remake.
Still, RoboCop seemed appealing enough to attract similar numbers to Total Recall. Ahead of the weekend, Sony was expecting a six-day start of at least $35 million, which would be in line with last February's A Good Day to Die Hard ($36.7 million five-day). Unfortunately, RoboCop only earned $2.8 million on Wednesday. Based on this figure, its unlikely RoboCop earns more than $25 million by the end of the long weekend.
Sony will still have the highest-grossing new release this weekend, though it's coming from Screen Gems, not Columbia. Opening at 2,253 locations, the About Last Night remake seems to have the recipe for Valentine's Day success. Featuring two couples exploring relationship issues in humorous ways, the movie will be the go-to date night choice. It doesn't hurt that marketing prominently features Kevin Hart, who is undoubtedly a box office draw following the success of last month's Ride Along.
With a similar tone and a few of the same cast members, About Last Night is reminiscent of 2012 Screen Gems movie Think Like a Man. That opened to $33.6 million on its way to $91.5 million; a similar result wouldn't be surprising for About Last Night. Sony is more modestly predicting mid-$20 millions for the four-day frame.
At 2,893 locations, the Endless Love remake is aimed at the same young female audience that rushed out to see The Vow and Safe Haven on Valentine's Day in 2012 and 2013. This has the right tone, though it's missing the star power: The Vow had Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams, while Safe Haven was propped up by the Nicholas Sparks brand. Ads for Endless Love point out that Alex Pettyfer was in Magic Mike, though in that movie he was overshadowed by Tatum and Matthew McConaughey. Meanwhile, his female co-star, Gabriella Wilde, is essentially a newcomer.
Still, there is definitely an audience for Endless Love. Last year, Safe Haven earned $33.3 million in its first five days; Endless Love could reasonably earn half as much over the four-day weekend. Universal is currently expecting around $10 million.
Opening at 2,965 theaters, Winter's Tale is likely going to be the big loser this weekend. The marketing material hints at the movie's fantastical elements, but doesn't do much to untangle a confusing story that takes place in two different time periods. Add in awful reviews (less than 10 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and it's hard to imagine that this is the first or second choice for many couples. Forecast (Feb. 14-16) 1. LEGO Movie - $39.4 million (-43%) 2. About Last Night - $34.5 million ($39 million four-day) 3. RoboCop - $15.5 million ($17.5 million four-day) 4. Endless Love - $14.6 million ($16.7 million four-day) 5. Monuments Men - $13.2 million (-40%) 6. Winter's Tale - $8.8 million ($10.1 million) Bar for Success In its first six days, the RoboCop remake ought to match A Good Day to Die Hard's $36.7 million five-day opening. About Last Night is in good shape if it gets to $20 million over the long weekend. Meanwhile, Endless Love and Winter's Tale should be reaching $15 million.