Forecast: Over nine years after Sin City opened to $29.8 million, a sequel finally arrives in theaters on Friday.
As is the case with most long-wait sequels, A Dame to Kill For should earn substantially less than its predecessor. For the weekend, it will likely wind up in second place behind young-adult adaptation If I Stay.
If Sin City: A Dame to Kill For had reached theaters in close proximity to the original, it would be in much better shape right now. With its stark black-and-white cinematography and animated backgrounds, the original Sin City was the first movie that truly looked like a graphic novel come to life. It received positive reviews (78 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), and strong responses from fans who clamored for years for a sequel covering some of author Frank Miller's other stories from Sin City.
Instead of opening two or three years after the original, it took nine full years to get a sequel to the big screen. During that time, the qualities that made Sin City so unique have become played out; ironically, that's in large part due to other Frank Miller movies like 300, The Spirit and 300: Rise of An Empire.
300: Rise of an Empire is actually a strong comparison for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, as there was a seven-year gap between Rise of an Empire and the original 300. Even with the addition of 3D ticket prices, Rise of an Empire opened 36 percent lower than its predecessor. A similar drop would put A Dame to Kill For at $19.1 million this weekend.
Adding to this is the fact that director Robert Rodriguez's brand seems to have taken a hit as of late. Since Sin City, none of his movies have earned over $40 million at the domestic box office. His last two movies—both sequels—were off dramatically from their predecessors: Machete Kills was down 70 percent from the first Machete, while Spy Kids: All the Time in the World was off 66 percent from Spy Kids 3D: Game Over.
Ultimately, an opening around $15 million seems like a likely result for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
Opening at over 2,500 locations, If I Stay could wind up in first place ahead of Sin City. The 2009 Gayle Forman book upon which its based isn't nearly as popular as The Fault in our Stars, though the movie still seems poised to tap in to some of Fault's audience. The content is in the same general wheelhouse—both movies are centered around a potentially doomed teen romance—and the If I Stay trailer appears to have played in front of most showings of The Fault in our Stars this Summer.
If I Stay does lack Fault's built-in fan base, star power (Chloë Grace Moretz can't match up against Shailene Woodley) and sense of humor, and isn't going to open anywhere near that movie's $48 million. Still, this could turn in to one last group movie outing for young women ahead of the start of the school year. Warner Bros. is expecting high-teen-millions this weekend, and it's possible that it tops $20 million.
At around 2,670 theaters, football drama When the Game Stands Tall will likely wind up in fifth place this weekend behind Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The movie stars Jim Caviezel as high school football coach Bob Ladouceur, who led the De La Salle High School Spartans to a 151-game winning streak. Unfortunately, advertisements don't really make it clear if the movie is about the streak, or about what happens after the streak ends (though it most certainly does during the course of the movie). As a result, it's been tough to tell if the movie adds anything new to the tired high school sports genre.
One thing the movie does have is a faith-based angle, as De La Salle is a Catholic high school. Similar to recent movies like Son of God, God's Not Dead and Heaven is for Real, there's been solid outreach to Christian moviegoers: many commercials have featured a group sales phone number, which can often lead to disproportionately high attendance on Sunday afternoon (group outings after church). That strategy was also employed for fellow TriStar release Moms' Night Out, though, and it didn't really work out. To really attract religious audiences, the faith elements need to be central to the story, and that doesn't seem to be the case with When the Game Stands Tall.
Ultimately, it would be surprising if When the Game Stands Tall winds up much higher than recent sports movies Million Dollar Arm ($10.5 million) and Draft Day ($9.8 million).
Forecast (August 22-24)
1. If I Stay - $21.5 million
2. Sin City - $16.5 million
3. Guardians of the Galaxy - $15.1 million (-40%)
4. Ninja Turtles - $14.8 million (-48%)
5. When the Game Stands Tall - $9 million
Bar for Success
The first Sin City opened to $29.1 million in 2005. With nine years of ticket price inflation, plus the addition of 3D premiums, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For should be opening no lower than $25 million. Anything over $15 million is a solid win for If I Stay, while When the Game Stands Tall gets a pass at $10-million-plus.
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• Last Weekend's Report: 'Turtles,' 'Guardians' Crush Weak 'Expendables'
• Last Weekend's Forecast: 'Expendables' To Battle 'Turtles,' 'Guardians' This Weekend
• Summer 2014 Forecast