Expanding to 2,876 locations, Lone Survivor tells the story of Operation Red Wings, a disastrous 2005 Navy SEALs mission in Afghanistan that resulted in 19 U.S. casualties. Instead of focusing on the downer of a story, though, Universal's marketing has played up the movie's themes of courage and brotherhood. This may not work well with some cynical audiences, but average moviegoers will likely embrace the movie's overt patriotism.
On the same weekend in 2012, star Mark Wahlberg's Contraband opened to $24.3 million. Meanwhile, fellow war movies Zero Dark Thirty and Black Hawk Down also expanded in mid-January and took in $24.4 million and $28.6 million, respectively. A similar result wouldn't be surprising for Lone Survivor, though Universal has it pegged in the mid-to-high teens right now.
Opening at 2,104 locations, The Legend of Hercules is the first of two 2014 movies focused on the son of Zeus—the second one, directed by Brett Ratner and starring Dwayne Johnson, is scheduled for release in July. Lionsgate/Summit only recently acquired U.S. rights to this title, which stars Kellan Lutz as the titular hero. While there's been some marketing on it, the movie doesn't seem to have nearly the same appeal as similar CGI-heavy sword-and-sandal movies 300 and Immortals. An opening below $10 million seems likely at this point.
After earning over $3.2 million through three weeks in limited release, Spike Jonze's Her expands to 1,729 theaters. The movie has received strong reviews and plenty of awards attention, though its odd story (a man falls in love with his computer) will keep this from opening too big. Still, based on comparable titles like Lost in Translation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Midnight in Paris, Her should earn at least $5 million this weekend.
August: Osage County and Inside Llewyn Davis also expand nationwide this weekend; August reaches 905 locations, while Llewyn will be playing at 729 venues.
Forecast (Jan. 10-12)
1. Lone Survivor - $23.1 million
2. Frozen - $15.3 million (-22%)
3. Wolf of Wall Street - $10.6 million (-20%)
4. The Hobbit - $9.2 million (-41%)
5. American Hustle - $8.7 million (-30%)
6. Her - $8.1 million
7. Hercules - $8 million
-. August - $5.1 million
-. Llewyn Davis - $3.3 million
Bar for Success
Lone Survivor is in great shape if it can get to $20 million. It hasn't received much of a push, so The Legend of Hercules is okay at $10 million. Her, August: Osage County and Inside Llewyn Davis are all long plays, so as long as they don't tank (per-theater average below $2,000 or so) then they should be okay.
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