Box Office Predictions (Oct. 17-19)

October 17, 2008




Okay okay… so last weekend we all predicted Body of Lies to top Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and of course that failed miserably.  The Chihuahuas were back at the top for a second straight week while Body of Lies bombed.  We sure hope that won’t happen again (I’m confident it won’t).

This weekend there are four new releases, the biggest one being Max Payne – starring Mark Wahlberg based on a 2001 video game.  This movie looks really cool, which is the main reason why I’m confident it’ll land the #1 spot at the box office. 

Sex Drive will be featured in over 2,400 theaters and is the comedy of the weekend.  Unfortunately, this is the only comedy out and with no stars in the cast I expect this film to bomb.  Maybe the title will attract a decent teenager crowd, and they have done a good job advertising the film… but cracking the Top 5 might be a tough task.

If you haven’t heard of it yet, there’s an Oliver Stone film this weekend called W. that is based on our president George W. Bush.  I don’t know whether it’s good or bad timing that W. is being released weeks prior to the election, but we’ll soon find out.  Josh Brolin stars as George Bush with Thandie Newton as Condoleeza Rice.

The last new film being released this weekend is The Secret Life of Bees, starring Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, and Alicia Keys, basedon a novel by Sue Monk Kidd.  Being released in 1,600 theaters and a relatively low word of mouth, don’t expect this film to be a smash hit, but don’t count this film completely out of the Top 5.

Now here are our predictions for the weekend:


Phil’s Predictions:

1.  Max Payne – $20 million
2.  Quarantine – $13 million
3.  Beverly Hills Chihuahua – $12 million
4.  Sex Drive – $8 million
5.  Body of Lies – $8 million


Dan’s Predictions:

1.  Max Payne – $22 million
2.  Beverly Hills Chihuahua – $13 million
3.  W. – $12 million
4.  Quarantine – $9 million
5.  The Secret Life of Bees – $8 million


My Predictions:

1.  Max Payne – $24 million
2.  W. – $12 million
3.  Beverly Hills Chihuahua – $11 million
4.  The Secret Life of Bees – $7 million
5.  Body of Lies – $6 million


This is quite an tough weekend to predict as you can see.  Besides Max Payne topping all of our predictions, we have quite contrasting lists.  Phil’s stand-out prediction is Sex Drive cracking the Top 5.  Dan’s stand-out prediction is Beverly Hills Chihuahua placing second behind Max Payne.  And my stand-out prediction is The Secret Life of Bees grossing $7 and placing #4 in the Top 5. 

Let’s see how our predictions hold up.


5 Things I Learned About the Box Office

October 13, 2008


Weekend Box Office Studio Estimates for October 10-12:

1.  Beverly Hills Chihuahua – $17.5 million
2.  Quarantine – $14.2 million
3.  Body of Lies – $13.1 million
4.  Eagle Eye – $11 million
5.  Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – $6.5 million

6.  The Express – $4.7 million
10.  City of Ember – $3.2 million


There is a lot to be learned from this weekend’s box office results.  By no means am I a box office expert or should be handing down lessons about what to expect when predicting films’ box office gross, but as I continue to predict the Top 5, I’m seeing some patterns that I feel is definitely worth noticing.

Lesson One:  No matter how bad a movie is or looks, do not let that become a factor when predicting the box office.

Evidence:  Beverly Hills Chihuahua.  I know it’s a kids movie, but even movies for children can be good.  Example… any Pixar film.  Critics were too afraid to review it (only 69 reviews listed on Rotten Tomatoes while 126 critics reviewed Eagle Eye) and over 2,000 voters on IMDB have given it a rating of 2.5/10. 

Lesson Two:  A political film about the war on terror or the Middle East will bomb.

Evidence:  Body of Lies.  (Rendition and A Mighty Heart made only $4 million in its first weekend of wide release.  In the Valley of Elah grossed less than $7 in its entire limited release.)  Even boasting the star power of Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe couldn’t help this film from failing.  The American crowd goes to the theater to escape reality, not bathe in it.

Lesson Three:  Horror films are box office candy.

Evidence:  Quarantine.  There’s no one famous in or behind this film.  There’s no clever marketing scheme to boost the anticipation of its release.  But, it still managed to land the #2 spot of the weekend box office.  Why?  Because it’s a horror movie (and its October release probably helps).  Just look at the Saw franchise.  Only the first film was actually well-made (with an $18 million opening weekend), yet the three films that followed the original all grossed over $30 its opening weekend.  People (mainly teenagers) just really love to see horror movies, especially during October.

Lesson Four:  If you haven’t heard about a movie, it’ll most likely bomb.

Evidence:  City of Ember.  This film had all of the ingredients to be a smash hit at the box office.  A family adventure with a big star (Bill Murray).  Hmm… do you remember the summer family adventure film, Journey to the Center of the Earth, with big star Brendan Fraser (it grossed $21 its opening weekend).  More critics were willing to see City of Ember than Beverly Hills Chihuahua (88 reviews on RT to 69).  And it had a wide release this weekend, opening in over 2,000 theaters.  So what happened?  No one knew about it.  I didn’t see one commercial or trailer for this film, and I assume not too many people did.  It ranked tenth this weekend with $3.2 million.

Lesson Five:  A film without a big actor will usually do worse than a film with a big actor.

Evidence:  The Express.  Opening in over 2,800 theaters (second most only to Beverly Hills Chihuahua), there was a lot of promise for this football film to make the Top 5.  Sports movies always do well, and it’s in the middle of the NFL season.  The marketing was decent.  Where did it go wrong?  Dennis Quaid was the biggest actor name in this film.  Unless it’s a Disney film, Dennis Quaid cannot carry a film on his own.  Therefore, The Express didn’t crack the Top 5 and grossed a disappointing $4.7 million.


Well, that’s what I learned this weekend.  Check back on Friday when Phil, Dan, and myself attempt to predict the box office for the upcoming weekend.

Box Office Predictions (October 10-12)

October 10, 2008




The week after the Chihuahuas ran the box office comes a plethora of movies with potential to take the top spot.  Whether or not the dogs drop from box office champs will determine on these following films released today.

First, let’s start with Body of Lies.  Opening in over 2,700 theaters with power houses Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio running the show, this film has great promise to take the box office crown this weekend.  What are the drawbacks?  Well, if you don’t know, Body of Lies is one of those political war/action films about anti-terrorism.  Did I just turn you off from the movie?  Yeah.  Promoters did their best to hide the actual plot by showing you explosions, tanks, helicopters, and Crowe and DiCaprio being really intense.  Heck, it almost worked for me… and I think it’ll work enough to take down those dogs.

Opening in over 2,800 theaters is the football drama, The Express about the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy.  MAYBE… just MAYBE this film can topple the weekend box office… just not very likely.  What’s working for The Express is how sports films tend to do well, especially a football film during football season.  And the PG rating will definitely help draw a larger crowd.  But what’s missing is that big ticket drawer in the movie.  The biggest star is Dennis Quaid.  That’s not good enough!

It wouldn’t be October without horror films.  Opening this weekend close to 2,500 theaters is Quarantine featuring… well no one.  It’s not like horror films need a big name.  Just a bunch of good looking actors who one by one will die.  I don’t see how this film will be any different.  It has an R rating, which will be the biggest obstacle for this to make some serious dough.  The advertising has been strong.  I can’t remember the last prime time show I watched without a Quarantine commercial.  Will it be enough?  It won’t come in as #1, but a definite Top 5. 

The last big release of the weekend is City of Ember, opening in over 2,000 theaters and featuring Bill Murray and Tim Robbins.  You might be thinking, “Why haven’t I heard of this film?”  Hey, I’m in the same boat as you.  With a PG rating, it’s a family/fantasy adventure.  Those usually do very well, but I must state again that this movie is completely going under the radar.  If people actually knew about this film, it could easily beat out those damn Chihuahuas.  But it’ll probably settle for a disappointing gross.

Let’s check out our predictions…


Phil’s Predictions:

1. Body of Lies – $30 million
2. The Express – $21 million
3. Beverly Hills Chihuahua – $15 million
4. Quarantine – $10 million
5. Eagle Eye – $9 million


Dan’s Predictions:

1. Body of Lies – $17 million
2. Beverly Hills Chihuahua – $15 million
3. The Express – $12 million
4. Quarantine – $11 million
5. Eagle Eye – $10 million


My Predictions:

1.  Body of Lies – $21 million
2.  Bevery Hills Chihuahua – $19 million
3.  The Express – $15 million
4.  Quarantine – $10 million
5.  Eagle Eye – $9 million


Our predictions are quite similar as you can see.  Body of Lies is the unanimous choice to win the box office, and we all have the same five films we predict will land in the Top 5.  Will there be any surprises?  Not according to us, but the only film that might have a splash that’s not listed is City of Ember… but don’t count on it.

Let’s see how our predictions hold up.  Check back on Monday for the box office results.

Why I’m not pumped for Body of Lies

October 9, 2008


Body of Lies comes out tomorrow starring heavy weights Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.  Directed by Ridley Scott (American Gangster, Kingdom of Heaven, Gladiator) this movie doesn’t need an introduction to how star-powered this high production really is.  BUT, why doesn’t it seem like the big blockbuster like it should be?

Okay, I’ve seen commercials.  I’ve seen the trailers.  They’re pretty awesome.  I’ve seen Russell Crowe promoting the film on late night talk shows.  But… I just don’t feel like this is going to be as big a hit as it should be.  Of course, it has as much potential as any other film this year.  I mean… it’s Leo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe!  They should totally kick-ass in this anti-terrorism action movie!

Wait… maybe that’s the problem.  It seems as though Americans are fed up with all of these political movies.  There was an onslaught of political film last year that just bombed (Rendition, In the Valley of Elah, The Kingdom).  No one wants to watch a movie about the war overseas anymore.

Okay, what else could be ruining Body of Lies’ chances of being a smash hit?  Well, I hate to say it, but Ridley Scott is slipping.  After his incredible back-to-back masterpieces with Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, he’s made good but not great films.  Kingdom of Heaven was just continuing the epic-movie craze, A Good Year was a departure from his comfort zone, and then there was last year’s American Gangster, which actually was a smash hit ($43.6 opening weekend).  So why am I not completely pumped for this movie like I was for American Gangster?!

Is it because of Denzel?  Is he really the deciding factor through all of this?  He is definitely one of the most (if not THE most) bankable actors today.  So replacing Denzel with Leo doesn’t cut it.

All right.  Why the rant?  Well, just because I would not be surprised if Body of Lies doesn’t break $20 this weekend… and with such a stellar cast and a proven director, that’s pathetic.  Will I be seeing it?  Probably not.  It’s already getting mixed reviews from the critics (currently a 52% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes)

Oh well.  Even though American Gangster was successful in the box office, it failed terribly in the Oscars where it only tallied two nominees.  Look for the same result with Body of Lies, just with a significantly lower box office.

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