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 Fifty Shades of Greys 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 February 20 – 22, 2015.

This weekend, comedy sequel Hot Tub Time Machine 2 opens in more than 2,600 theaters, comedy The DUFF debuts in 2,500 theaters, while sports drama McFarland, USA will play in 2,600 theaters. In limited release, Wild Tales will play on an unspecified number of screens,

#1 – Fifty Shades of Grey

Look for last week’s champ, Fifty Shades of Grey (read our review), to finish on top again during its second weekend. As we noted in our wrap-up last week, the film had a considerable drop-off from Saturday to Sunday, signifying that audience word-of-mouth was less than stellar. That said, the film has still managed to gross $94.3 million through the first four days of its theatrical run, so the traditional second week decrease won’t hurt it all that much. This week’s new arrivals aren’t expected to make much (more on that in a second), either, so it’s unlikely Fifty Shades gets any real competition for first place.

Fifty Shades of Grey Movie Reviews 2015 Box Office Prediction: Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Hot Tub Time Machine 2

#2 – Kingsman: The Secret Service

Our pick for second, just like last week, is Kingsman: The Secret Service (read our review). Matthew Vaughn’s edgy ode to the spy films of yesteryear proved to be a viable commercial force despite the presence of Fifty Shades, exceeding expectations and grossing $42 million over the holiday weekend. Talk of sequels is already happening, and the film has been generating an enthusiastic response from those who have seen it, which will help it be a lucrative holdover for the next few weeks. With little competition for its primary demographic and critic reviews on its side, Kingsman should have another healthy weekend.

#3 – The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Our theme of having last week’s results serve as this week’s predictions continue, as we’re picking The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (read our review) to be the third-place film this week. The animation/live-action hybrid has been very successful so far, making $103.1 million as of this writing, which is more than what the first SpongeBob movie made for its entire theatrical run. Grossing $40 million over the President’s Day weekend, it’s clear that this film is happily taking advantage of the lack of family programming right now, so there’s no reason to believe it won’t be able to continue performing strongly.

spongebob movie out water trailer poster Box Office Prediction: Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Hot Tub Time Machine 2

#4 – Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Though it’s labeled as the challenger in our headline, we expect Hot Tub Time Machine 2 to finish in fourth during its opening weekend. The 2010 original was a minor hit, earning $50.2 million domestically ($14 million of that was during opening weekend). Those numbers show that while the first film has its fans, the franchise doesn’t have much crossover appeal, which will probably prevent it from being a massive blockbuster hit. The fact that early tracking has the movie projected for $11 million in its first three days illustrates this.

However, Time Machine 2 does have a couple of things on its side. Namely, comedy fans haven’t had much to choose from in a while. Playing into that niche should help it post respectable numbers, which was the case when the first movie premiered four years ago. There isn’t much hype surrounding this second installment, but the film shouldn’t bomb either.

#5 – American Sniper

Rounding out the top five should be American Sniper (read our review). Clint Eastwood’s war drama continues to be a force at the box office, adding $19.4 million over the four-day weekend to its already phenomenal domestic total. With the Oscar ceremony happening this Sunday, there will be moviegoers looking to catch up on their Best Picture nominees ahead of time, which should keep the Chris Kyle biopic hanging around for at least another week. When compared to its record-breaking opening, business for American Sniper is slowing down, but it still has the attention of audiences.

Jan 18 Box Office American Sniper Box Office Prediction: Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Notes

It could edge out Sniper for fifth place, but we believe that McFarland, USA will not crack the top five. An inspirational Kevin Costner sports drama used to be a box office lock (see: Field of Dreams), but the leading man has lost a little bit of his star power recently. Just a couple of weeks ago, his Black or White debuted to just $6.2 million amidst a marketplace that wasn’t nearly as competitive as it is now. Tracking estimates that McFarland will pull in $10 million this weekend, but that’s too low to confidently choose it for fifth.

Lack of awareness is the main reason why The DUFF should also fail to make the top five. Marketing for the film has been extremely limited, and there are probably many moviegoers who do not even know it is coming out on Friday. Despite its wide release, it’s currently projected to gross a measly $5 million in its first three days, which is hardly enough to get to the top of the charts.

McFarland USA Box Office Prediction: Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Last Week’s Recap

Whether you go by the three-day numbers (keeping in line with the old Box Office Battle rules) or look at the extended holiday frame, we correctly predicted all five films in the exact slots they were in.

Next Week: Focus, The Lazarus Effect, and more!

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

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