Welcome to the Screen Rant Box Office Prediction. Every week we put together an informal list of box office picks for the upcoming weekend – 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 Focus 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 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 March 6 – 8, 2015.

This weekend, sci-fi flick Chappie hits over 3,000 theaters, comedy Unfinished Business is released in 2,800 theaters, and dramedy sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel debuts in more than 1,400 locations. In limited release, Merchants of Doubt plays on an unspecified number of screens.

#1 – Chappie

Coming in first this weekend should be Chappie, the new film from director Neill Blomkamp. The filmmaker had a tremendous success when he burst on to the scene with his debut feature, the Best Picture candidate District 9in 2009 ($115.6 million). Many expected his directorial follow-up, Elysium, to post even higher numbers, but the lukewarm reception that movie was subjected to caused it to underperform somewhat ($93 million). However, those are rather healthy totals for someone who is still early in his career. Blomkamp has shown in his limited time behind the camera that he has what it takes to draw audiences in.

And there are several factors that lead us to believe his good fortunes will continue with Chappie. Never mind the fact that Blomkamp is preparing to helm a new Alien film (which will bring in curious viewers); Chappie is aiming to be a return to form for the director after he admittedly mishandled Elysium. The plot looks to combine the social commentary and emotional story that made District 9 so popular, and the presence of talents like Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver give it a boost in star power. Projected at $20 million, Chappie may not reach the heights of Blomkamp’s earlier works, but with the marketplace so barren, it’ll have an easy road to the top.

Chappie TV spots Box Office Prediction: Chappie vs. Unfinished Business


#2 – Unfinished Business

Our choice for second is the new comedy Unfinished Business, which is the latest vehicle for star Vince Vaughn. The comedian hasn’t been able to relive the glory days of Wedding Crashers ($209.2 million) in some time, as he headlined a pair of forgettable flops in 2013: Delivery Man ($30.6 million) and The Internship ($44.6 million). With tracking indicating an $11 million opening weekend, we wouldn’t expect Unfinished Business to be the one to put him back on top, but there are some reasons why it could be respectable on its own.

For one, comedy fans haven’t had much to choose from lately, so this film could play well into that niche looking for some entertainment. In addition to that, the highly-visible marketing campaign has sold moviegoers on its wild premise, which is essentially The Hangover in a business trip setting. R-rated comedies have had a lot of commercial success in recent years, so going for that crowd will certainly help its chances. With another relatively quiet weekend in store, Unfinished Business should stand out.

#3 – Focus

Look for last week’s champ, Focus (read our review), to slide to third in its second weekend. Though the conman drama helped Will Smith reclaim the top spot at the box office, it was a very soft debut when compared to how his movies typically perform. The film did not meet the modest expectations the studio had for it, grossing just $18.6 million in its first three days. Based on that performance and the mixed critical reception, it’s doubtful that Focus can be a strong hold, especially with two high profile releases taking up screens this week.

Will Smith and Margot Robbie in Focus Box Office Prediction: Chappie vs. Unfinished Business


#4 – Kingsman: The Secret Service

Our pick for fourth is Kingsman: The Secret Service (read our review). Matthew Vaughn’s latest has been one of the few noteworthy success stories this season, posting an extra $11.8 million last weekend to add to its $85.8 million domestic total. As positive word-of-mouth about the film continues to spread, there’s no reason to believe that it can’t continue to maintain its strong legs, even if business starts to go down amidst fresh competition.

#5 – The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Rounding out the top five should be The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (read our review), which came in third last week with $10.8 million. Now at $139.9 million total domestically, the family film has taken full advantage of zero competition for its target audience, and should continue to be a viable force for this demographic for another week.

Notes

It’s difficult to say if this week’s third release, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, will crack the top five in its first three days. Currently, tracking is not available for the film, which is a rare occurrence. Marketing for the sequel has been extremely limited, so awareness will certainly be an issue as it attempts to compete with several high profile movies. The safe money is on it finishing in the bottom half this week.

Last Week’s Recap

Spongebob Squarepants Sponge Out of Water Movie Box Office Prediction: Chappie vs. Unfinished Business


We correctly predicted the five titles that were in the top five, but we were slightly off in regards to the final order. We had predicted SpongeBob to finish in fourth, with Fifty Shades of Grey coming in third, but those two films swapped spots when the official numbers came in.

Next Week: Cinderella, Run All Night, and more!

Source: Box Office Mojo (Release Schedule) and Box Office [1], [2], [3] (Opening Weekend Projections)