Forecast: 'New Year's Eve' Arrives Early

by Ray Subers
New Year's Eve

December 8, 2011

With two major wide releases hitting theaters this weekend, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1's three-week reign a top the box office charts will finally come to an end. Opening at 3,505 theaters, ensemble romantic comedy New Year's Eve will almost certainly claim first place, while Jonah Hill's solo debut The Sitter should wind up a distant second.

While it's not explicitly mentioned this way in any of the promotional material, New Year's Eve is essentially a follow-up to last year's Valentine's Day: both are ensemble movies that take place on a specific, very romantic holiday, and both are directed by Garry Marshall. Valentine's Day debuted to a massive $56.3 million over Valentine's Day weekend in 2010, though it quickly fizzled out after the holiday and wound up with $110.5 million. Hitting theaters over three weeks ahead of its titular holiday, New Year's Eve will almost certainly open lower but hang on well throughout the end of the month and in to the beginning of January.

One significant advantage that New Year's Eve has is the inexplicable dearth of romantic comedies in the marketplace. Excluding September's What's Your Number?, which seemed to err more towards straight comedy, the last pure romantic comedy was July's Crazy, Stupid, Love. Looking ahead, nothing fits in to the genre until at least February's Wanderlust. Warner Bros. has put together a broad-enough marketing campaign that date night audiences will be well aware that the movie is coming out, and there are enough recognizable actors and actresses in the movie that at least a few should be appealing to most people.

Outside of Valentine's Day, a great comparison for New Year's Eve is 2009's He's Just Not That Into You. It was an ensemble romantic comedy with divergent stories that opened ahead of its holiday tie-in (in this case debuting a full week before Valentine's Day). It scored $27.8 million on opening weekend before winding up with just shy of $94 million, both of which are reachable figures for New Year's Eve.

After a ton of supporting roles, as well as shared leading status in Superbad and Get Him to the Greek, Jonah Hill has his first solo lead role in The Sitter. The movie is being pitched as an R-rated version of Adventures in Babysitting, with Hill starring as a foul-mouthed, incompetent babysitter who drags a set of kids through the underworld of New York City. Putting children in R-rated comedic situations can be fairly successful—2008's Role Models, for example, opened to $19.1 million on its way to a $67.3 million total. Unfortunately, after a successful Summer, R-rated comedies have had a tough run in the past few months. Dating back through August, no R-rated comedy has opened to more than $13.5 million, and The Sitter is going to have a tough time bucking that trend. Distributor 20th Century Fox is anticipating an opening around $10 million.

Two major movies open in limited release this weekend. Young Adult, which reunites Juno's director Jason Reitman with writer Diablo Cody, reaches eight locations, while British Cold War thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy launches at four venues. Young Adult is set to expand to around 1,000 theaters next weekend, while Tinker, Tailor will likely have more of a platform release.

Weekend Forecast (Dec. 9-11)
1. New Year's Eve - $29.5 million
2. The Sitter - $12.9 million
3. Breaking Dawn - $8.4 million (-49%)
4. The Muppets - $7.1 million (-36%)
5. Hugo - $7 million (-7%)
6. Arthur Christmas - $6.4 million (-14%)

Bar for Success
New Year's Eve needs to get in to the mid-$20 million range to set itself up for a strong Holiday run. With the R-rated comedy slump, The Sitter gets a pass in the low-teen-millions.

Related Stories:
Last Weekend's Forecast: 'Twilight' Targets Trifecta, 'Shame' Aims to Woo Arthouse Crowds
Holiday Preview

8/14 Is 'Crazy Rich Asians' Looking at a Crazy Rich Opening Weekend?
8/13 'The Meg' Devours Competition, Debuting with a Monster $146.9M Globally
8/9 'The Meg' to Challenge 'Mission: Impossible' for Weekend Top Spot
8/8 July Box Office Grosses Were Down, but 2018 is Still on a Record Pace
8/5 'Mission: Impossible' Tops 'Christopher Robin' for Weekend #1; 'Black Panther' Reaches $700M
8/2 'Mission: Impossible' Looks to Retain #1 Position Over Disney's 'Christopher Robin'
> MORE: News | Features
New MPAA Ratings Added
DAILY: Monday, 8/13 (35 tracked)
WEEKEND: Weekend Actuals, 'The Meg' #1
DAILY: Friday, 'The Meg' #1
WEEKLY: 'Mission: Impossible 6' Tops the Week with $52.47m
DAILY: Thursday 8/9 (43 tracked)
DAILY: Wednesday, 8/8 (35 tracked)
DAILY: Tuesday, 8/7 (33 tracked)