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 That Awkward Moment‘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 February 7 – 9, 2014.

This weekend, animated family film The LEGO Movie opens in over 3,650 theaters, World War II drama The Monuments Men debuts in over 2,800 locations, and young adult adaptation Vampire Academy sees a release of 2,500 theaters.

#1 – The LEGO Movie

Our choice for the top spot this week is the new animated film, The LEGO Movie. While most moviegoers were skeptical of the project when it was first announced, a smart marketing campaign has quickly changed those opinions. Tongue-in-cheek trailers and TV spots have emphasized the film’s self-referential humor and sense of fun, making this an appealing option for audiences of all ages. Warner Bros. took advantage of the vast array of LEGO characters at their disposal to create a star-studded cast unlike anything seen in an animated movie before.

Typically, it doesn’t matter who directs an animated film (since they’re usually box office gold regardless of quality), but it’s worth mentioning that Phil Lord and Chris Miller are the men calling the shots for The LEGO Movie. The filmmaking duo already has two hits to its name: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs ($124.8 million) and 21 Jump Street ($138.4 million). The financial and critical success of both indicates that these directors know how to craft entertaining movies for both kids and adults – which certainly plays into The LEGO Movie’s favor.

#2 – The Monuments Men

Coming in second should be The Monuments Men. The latest directorial effort by George Clooney was originally scheduled to hit theaters last December, only to make a last-minute switch to this weekend. The release date change should be beneficial, since the World War II film now has separation from the blitz of adult-oriented pictures from the holiday season, which included films going after the same demographic including American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Clooney the director does not have the same kind of box office track record as Clooney the movie star (the highest-grossing film he helmed was 2011’s The Ides of March at $40.9 million), but that should not be an issue here. A strong marketing presence has put its recognizable ensemble cast (featuring Clooney and Matt Damon in prominent roles) front and center and has teased an entertaining romp in the vein of Ocean’s Eleven – which was a big hit. Monuments Men should serve as ideal counter-programming to The LEGO Movie, bringing in those moviegoers without children.

#3 – Ride Along

After spending three weeks at the top of the charts, we believe that Ride Along (read our review) will fall to third this weekend. The Kevin Hart-led comedy has had a great theatrical run, grossing over $12 million last week to raise its hefty domestic total to $92.6 million. While it could still bring in comedy fans, this is the first weekend where it faces off against highly publicized new releases, and that could cause it to slip a bit.

#4 – Vampire Academy

Our pick for the fourth spot is Vampire Academy. The latest attempt to cash in on a young adult adaptation should certainly have success in its target demographic, but there’s some question as to how much mass appeal this movie has. Early tracking numbers have been low, and last year several similar titles failed to leave a major impact on the domestic box office. Releasing in the same weekend as an anticipated family film and a World War II drama with serious star power will limit the potential audience.

#5 – Lone Survivor

Rounding out the top five should be Lone Survivor (read our review). Peter Berg’s emotional war film continues to post solid numbers, as it grossed over $7 million last week (good enough for fifth place). With The LEGO Movie hitting the big screen, we doubt that animated holdovers Frozen and The Nut Job will do much business this week, which opens the door for Lone Survivor to hold on to a spot in the top five.

#10 – American Hustle

Our tiebreaker this week is American Hustle (read our review). David O. Russell’s Oscar-nominated caper finished in eighth place last week.

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):

  • The LEGO Movie – 3,650+ theaters
  • The Monuments Men – 2,800+ theaters
  • Vampire Academy – 2,500 theaters

Opening in theaters this week (Limited):

  • N/A

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 (That Awkward Moments opening): Sal reports that Chris Etrata is the winner with 11 points.

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 – Ride Along (3)
  • #2 – That Awkward Moment (1)
  • #3 – Lone Survivor (0)
  • #4 – The Nut Job (3)
  • #5 – Frozen (0)
  • #10 – August: Osage County
  • Final Score: 7 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)