Forecast (cont.): 'Night at the Museum,' 'Annie' Open Ahead of Christmas Holiday
<< Continued from 'Forecast: Will Moviegoers Show Up One Last Time for 'The Hobbit'?

Playing at 3,783 theaters, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is also aiming to be the final chapter in its franchise: the poster's tagline reads "One Final Night To Save the Day."

After opening on this same weekend back in 2006, the original Night at the Museum wound up earning a massive $250.9 million. Two-and-a-half years later, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian wasn't quite as impressive, earning $177.2 million (down 29 percent from the first movie).

There's been a five-and-a-half year gap between the second and the third installment, which begs the question: does anyone care about this series anymore? Star Ben Stiller has been down this road before with Little Fockers, which opened six years after its predecessor. That didn't work out so well, as Little Fockers wound up earning 47 percent less than Meet the Fockers.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb features Robin Williams reprising his role as Theodore Roosevelt; Williams tragically passed away earlier this year, and this marks his final turn in a major studio movie. That could increase curiosity a bit, though it's tough to put a number on that (and in bad taste).

With Christmas around the corner, a $25-million-debut this weekend guarantees well over $100 million total. Considering the movie's strong international prospects, that would be a good start.

Sony will release their Annie remake at around 3,000 theaters this weekend. The movie's cast includes Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz and Rose Bryne, though the real draw could be Beast of the Southern Wild actress Quvenzhané Wallis in the title role. While that movie wasn't exactly a box office sensation—it earned a meager $12.8 million—the 11-year-old actress seemed to gain quite a following during the ensuing awards season.

Add in the musical's iconic songs—"Tomorrow," "It's the Hard Knock Life," etc.—and Annie is well-positioned to reach family moviegoers (particularly those with young girls). Still, it faces tough direct competition from Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb this weekend and Into the Woods on Christmas Day. Add in the nature of December releases—low opening weekend, followed by a strong legs in the long run—and it would be surprising if Annie wound up anywhere near $20 million this weekend.

After earning around $3 million in limited release, Wild (2014) expands to around 850 locations this weekend. The movie will likely add at least another $3 million to its total, which would position it for a healthy run over the next few weeks.

Forecast (December 19-21)

1. The Hobbit - $54 million ($91 million five-day)

2. Night at the Museum - $26 million

3. Annie - $13 million

4. Exodus - $11.1 million (-54%)

Bar for Success

To ensure that it won't be the lowest-grossing entry in the franchise, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies needs close to $90 million over its first five days. Meanwhile, Night at the Museum gets a pass if it reaches $25 million, while Annie is in good shape if it gets to $15 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.

Related Stories:

'Exodus' is Weak King

Last Weekend's Forecast: 'Exodus' to Reign Supreme at the Box Office This Weekend