Forecast: 'Thor' to Lead Again by Default

by Brandon Gray

May 12, 2011

This weekend, a break in the chain of wannabe event movies until Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides should allow Thor to top the box office again, even if it takes a tumble. Two more modest titles debut nationwide: Bridesmaids at 2,864 locations and Priest at 2,864 locations (including 2,006 presenting it in the 3D illusion).

Bridesmaids features Kristen Wiig and other familiar faces and is brazenly targeting both women and men. Its latest ads make this explicit, but potential audiences don't necessarily respond to a movie's strategy being laid out. That's too inside baseball. They respond to the story and the comedy, and these scattershot ads have been light on both. The ads do convey that the movie is about outrageous bridesmaids but they lack stand-out gags. The ever-popular wedding theme and the promise of a good time combined with the sheer volume of marketing suggest that Bridesmaids could still post decent numbers out of the gate, as comparable titles like Baby Mama, I Love You, Man and Get Him to the Greek did.

Bouncing around the release schedule for years, Priest finally arrives. Recent marketing for the action horror movie has emphasized that it's based on some acclaimed graphic novel and that it's opening Friday the 13th. Such focus is not a good sign. Priest looks like it's in the same vein as the Blade, Underworld and Resident Evil movies, but it's murkier, more generic and less relatable with its otherworldly setting. It's presumably a vampire movie, but the vampire element is unclear. Priest is from the same actor/director team of Legion (2010) (Paul Bettany and Scott Charles Stewart), and it marks Bettany's fifth religious-themed movie, following Creation, Legion, The Da Vinci Code and The Reckoning. Legion, though, had a clearer presentation and more stand-out set pieces than Priest.

In Box Office Mojo's "when will you see it" polling, Priest has performed poorly for its genre. It's scored just over 13 percent for "opening weekend," which was lower than Daybreakers and just about every comparable title except for Legion. Bridesmaids, on the other hand, boasted a 12.4 percent "opening weekend" score, which was close to Baby Mama. Based on these and other pre-weekend indicators and historical antecedents, here's how the weekend might play out:

The Forecast, May 13-15
1. Thor - $29 million
2. Bridesmaids - $17.5 million
3. Fast Five - $16 million
4. Priest - $12 million
5. Jumping the Broom - $8.5 million

Bar for Success
If Bridesmaids lands in the high-teen million range of comparable titles like Baby Mama and I Love You, Man, it will be fine. The bar is higher for Priest, which needs to hit the mid-$20 million range to get a pass.

Comps for:

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9/13 'The Predator' Targets Weekend #1; 'Simple Favor', 'White Boy Rick' & 'Unbroken' Also Debut
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WEEKEND: Weekend Actuals, 'House with a Clock in Its Walls' #1
DAILY: Friday, 'House with a Clock in Its Walls' #1
DAILY: Thursday 9/20 (56 tracked)
WEEKLY: 'The Predator' Tops the Week with $31.7m
DAILY: Wednesday, 9/19 (40 tracked)
DAILY: Tuesday, 9/18 (41 tracked)
New MPAA Ratings Added
DAILY: Monday, 9/17 (40 tracked)