Welcome to the Screen Rant Box Office Prediction. Every week we put together an informal list of box office picks for the upcoming weekend – in collaboration with the Screen Rant Underground podcast Box Office Battle – to offer readers a rough estimate of how new releases (and returning holdovers) will perform in theaters.

For a recap of last week’s box office totals, read our box office wrap-up from Captain Phillip‘s opening weekend – and scroll to the bottom of this post to see how our previous picks measured up.

Full disclosure: Box office predictions are not an exact science. We acknowledge that our picks may not always be correct. For the sake of offering a jumping off point for discussion, here are our picks for the weekend of October 18th – October 20th, 2013.

This weekend, horror remake Carrie opens in 3,000 theaters, the action film Escape Plan debuts in 2,750 theaters, and WikiLeaks drama The Fifth Estate opens in 1,700 theaters. Kill Your Darlings has an unspecified limited release on Wednesday, October 16, 12 Years a Slave sees a limited debut of 18 theaters, All is Lost gets an unspecified limited release, and I’m In Love With a Church Girl opens in 450 theaters.

#1 – Gravity

Once again, our pick for the top spot is Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity (read our review). The sci-fi thriller, which was once thought to be a massive box office risk, has instead become the blockbuster hit of the season. Last weekend, it grossed $43.1 million to raise its domestic total to $122.3 million. These numbers indicate that the word-of-mouth is strong and moviegoers are flocking to see this awards contender. Despite some high profile new releases, we think the hype will keep Gravity at number one for another week.

#2 – Carrie

Our choice for second place is the horror remake Carrie. Back in 1976, the original grossed $33.8 million ($129.4 million adjusted for 2013) and it has remained a popular film among fans of the genre since that time. Star Chloe Grace-Moretz is also somewhat recognizable thanks to her role as Hit Girl in the Kick-Ass franchise, which could help entice younger viewers to check out this reinvention.

We can’t say that the new version of Carrie will unseat Gravity due to tracking numbers being low, but the film will still do well on its own. Being the only new horror movie opening this close to Halloween gives it a boost since moviegoers will be looking for scares.

#3 – Captain Phillips

After finishing in second last week, we expect the drama Captain Phillips (read our review) to drop to third in its second weekend. Despite dealing with Gravity, the Tom Hanks film grossed an impressive $25.7 million, which is above the pace of similar titles at this stage in its theatrical run. With reviews strong and word-of-mouth from audiences positive, people should continue to turn out to see Sony’s Oscar contender.

#4 – Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

Coming in fourth should be the animated sequel Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (read our review). Last weekend, it grossed $13.7 million and as of this writing it has made $80.6 million domestically. It’s been out for a while, but you can never underestimate the ability of a family film to draw people to the theater and as the only one playing, Cloudy 2 should continue to perform well.

#5 – Escape Plan

This week’s other big release, Escape Plan, is our choice to round out the top five. The film features action icons Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the starring roles. If this movie came out in 1985, it would be a guaranteed blockbuster smash, but in 2013 it’s very obvious that the box office clout of these actors isn’t what it once was. Earlier this year, Schwarzenegger headlined the flop The Last Stand (just over $12 million total) and Stallone’s Bullet to the Head fared even worse ($9.4 million total). Even their franchise outing, The Expendables 2, slightly underperformed even with an $85 million domestic gross.

The marketing campaign has promised viewers (potentially) an entertaining throwback to old school action, but between Oscar buzz, anthropomorphic food, and telekinetic girls, the competition should prove to be too stiff for Escape Plan to do damage at the box office.

#10 – Rush

Our number ten tiebreaker this week is Rush (read our review). Ron Howard’s latest film finished in eighth last weekend.

Notes

This weekend features a third wide release, The Fifth Estate, but we do not think it will finish in the top five. Bill Condon’s WikiLeaks drama was poorly received critically when it traveled the festival circuit, so unlike the other major releases this fall, it does not come to theaters as a player in awards season. Even though it stars fan-favorite Benedict Cumberbatch, there are better-reviewed options available for adult audiences to see.

Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave may be a heavy favorite for Oscars, but it’s impossible for it to do big business at the box office. It’s important for our readers to keep in mind that the slavery drama is only playing in 18 theaters this week. Fox Searchlight may decide to expand it eventually, but until then it won’t crack the top five.

That’s it for this week’s breakdown.

Now, if you want to participate in the weekly Box Office Battle, it’s time for you to make your picks! In the comments section below, post what you think will be the top five movies this weekend at the box office as well as your own number ten tiebreaker. Then, tune into the Screen Rant Underground podcast for the results and find out who won.

Opening in theaters this week (Wide):

  • Carrie – 3,000 theaters
  • Escape Plan – 2,750 theaters
  • The Fifth Estate – 1,700 theaters

Opening in theaters this week (Limited):

  • Kill Your Darlings – unspecified (on Wednesday)
  • 12 Years a Slave – 18 theaters
  • All is Lost – unspecified
  • I’m In Love With a Church Girl – 450 theaters

Box Office Battle Scoring Rules: You get three (3) points for each direct match with the weekend actuals and one (1) point for each movie placed within one spot of the exact position. A perfect score is 15 points. Tie-breakers are not worth any points but, in the event of a tie, the person with a tie-breaker selection closest to the number 10 spot will be awarded the win.

Last Week’s Official Box Office Battle Reader Winner (Captain Phillips opening): Sal reports that three people finished with perfect 15s, but J Serrano nailed the tiebreaker and is the official winner.

For the record, here are our picks from last week – along with the corresponding amount of points we received for each pick (listed in parenthesis).

  • #1 – Gravity (3)
  • #2 – Captain Phillips (3)
  • #3 – Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (3)
  • #4 – Machete Kills (3)
  • #5 – Prisoners (1)
  • #10 – Don Jon
  • Final Score: 13 points

Make sure to check back later this week for the official box office results and tune into the Screen Rant Underground podcast for the weekly winners!

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90

Source: Box Office Mojo (Release Schedule)