Opening at 2,735 theaters, One Direction: This is Us is the latest in a string of 3D concert movies that began with 2008's Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour, which the highest opening yet for the genre ($31.1 million) and went on to close with $65.3 million. The following year, Michael Jackson's This Is It was even bigger ($72.1 million), while 2011's Justin Bieber: Never Say Never holds the record with $73 million.
The genre has a number of misses lately as well, though. Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience earned just $19.2 million, while last Summer's Katy Perry: Part of Me did only a bit better ($25.3 million). With its mix of concert footage and behind-the-scenes tour video, One Direction appears to be most-similar to the Justin Bieber and Katy Perry flicks.
Recognizing how rabid the band's young female fanbase is, Sony's targeted marketing effort has focused almost exclusively on driving awareness among "Directioners." This strategy seems to have paid off: Fandango is reporting 68 percent of Thursday ticket sales are for One Direction: This is Us, with 98 percent of those sales going to female audience members. This data confirms that One Direction will open higher than Katy Perry ($10.2 million in its first four days), though it's hard to imagine that it has enough buzz to come close to Justin Bieber ($32 million four-day). Sony is currently expecting an opening in the mid-to-high teen millions, which should be enough to beat The Butler.
Opening at 2,130 theaters, Ethan Hawke/Selena Gomez thriller Getaway is the final Dark Castle Entertainment movie being released by Warner Bros. under a deal that ended last year. The movie has received a light marketing effort, and the focus has been entirely on the run-of-the-mill car chases (at the expense of story and character). This may simply be because the product isn't all that marketable: as of Thursday afternoon, it had 55 reviews up on Rotten Tomatoes, and not a single one was fresh.
Dark Castle's Bullet to the Head—also a gritty revenge movie—opened to just $4.55 million in February, which remains one of the worst debuts of the year. With barely any marketing and atrocious reviews, it wouldn't be surprising if Getaway wound up around the same level.
British thriller Closed Circuit opens at 870 theaters this weekend, and could have a tough time reaching the Top 10. This is the latest European thriller that Focus Features is releasing over Labor Day weekend: past outings include The American ($35.6 million), The Constant Gardener ($33.6 million) and The Debt ($31.2 million). Those movies all had more aggressive marketing, much wider releases, and better reviews.
Closed Circuit got a jump on the weekend with a Wednesday debut, though it wound up in 15th place with just $248,704. If it follows the same pattern as the previously mentioned movies, it will earn less than $4 million through Monday.
A handful of other movies are receiving significant releases or expansions. Targeting Hispanic audiences, comedy/drama Instructions Not Included opens at 347 theaters. After a week in limited release, The Grandmaster expands nationwide in to 749 theaters. Finally, teen romance The Spectacular Now reaches 385 venues after earning $2.2 million in limited release. All three movies could earn around $1 million for the four-day weekend.
Four-Day Forecast (August 30-Sept. 2)
1. One Direction - $20.6 million
2. The Butler - $15.1 million (-9%)
3. We're the Millers - $13.2 million (+1%)
4. Planes - $9.4 million (+10%)
5. The World's End - $7.1 million (-19%)
-. Getaway - $5.7 million
-. Closed Circuit - $2.9 million ($3.4 million six-day)
Bar for Success
If One Direction: This is Us can get to $20 million by Monday, it's a huge win for Sony. Playing in over 2,000 theaters, Getaway ought to be close to $10 million, while Closed Circuit would be fine with a six-day start around $5 million.
Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo, and follow author Ray Subers at @raysubers.
• Last Weekend's Report: 'Butler' Repeats, Newcomers All Open Below $10 Million
• August 2013 Preview
• Summer 2013 Forecast
• 2013 Preview