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 Divergent‘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 March 28 – 30, 2014.

This weekend, Biblical disaster epic Noah opens in 3,400 theaters and action film Sabotage debuts in 2,400 – 2,500 theaters. Bad Words and Cesar Chavez are both playing in 600 locations while The Raid 2 gets an unspecified limited release.

#1 – Noah

Our choice for the top spot this week is Noah. Director Darren Aronofsky is coming off of his biggest commercial hit in 2010’s Black Swan ($106.9 million). While this Biblical epic is going after a different target audience, the filmmaker has shown in the past he’s capable of drawing in a large audience. Noah is also projected to have a strong first three days, with early estimates calculated at $41 million.

While the film has been the subject of much controversy during its pre-release period, casual moviegoers could find interest in the film’s recognizable cast. Stars Russell Crowe and Emma Watson have been heavily featured in marketing and they both have a number of box office hits to their name. The movie’s disaster plot coupled with its PG-13 rating will make it an accessible option at the multiplex, regardless of one’s familiarity with the original tale.

#2 – Divergent

Look for last week’s champ, Divergent (read our review), to fall to second. During its first three days, the young adult adaptation grossed $54.6 million, which is well below the opening weekend intake of the original Twilight film ($69.3 million).  Divergent will have strong legs for the next few weeks, but major tentpoles such as this typically see a sharp decrease during their second weekend. Since it failed to make Hunger Games money, that fall will make it difficult to repeat.

#3 – Muppets Most Wanted

Coming in third should be Muppets Most Wanted (read our review). The sequel to the successful 2011 film failed to capitalize on the Muppets’ newfound popularity, as it only made just over $17 million during its opening weekend. That number itself is solid enough, but it indicates that the demand for another adventure with Kermit and the gang isn’t that high and Most Wanted probably won’t stick around for long.

#4 – Sabotage

Our pick for fourth is Sabotage. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, the film is the latest directorial outing from David Ayer. The filmmaker made a name for himself in 2012 with the moderate hit End of Watch (over $41 million) and the film’s trailers have also highlighted his involvement with Training Day ($76.6 million). He hasn’t helmed an outright hit yet, but he’s developing a following as time goes on.

Unfortunately, Sabotage probably won’t be the film that launches Ayer into the mainstream. Schwarzenegger is an action icon, but he has had trouble finding the box office gold in this stage of his career. His last two outings, Escape Plan and The Last Standboth bombed domestically and Sabotage isn’t projected to do much better.

#5 – Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Rounding out the top five should be Mr. Peabody and Sherman (read our review). The latest from DreamWorks animation has performed strongly, making $81.1 domestically through three weeks of release. With new releases coming out on Friday and Muppets Most Wanted serving as a visible holdover for families, there’s a chance this one falls under the radar and sees a decrease. However, it wouldn’t be a shock if it continued to post big numbers.

#10 – Non-Stop

Our tiebreaker for this week is Non-Stop (read our review). Liam Neeson’s latest action movie finished in eighth place last week.

Notes

We do not expect Jason Bateman’s comedy, Bad Words, to finish in the top five. While the film has been receiving positive reviews, a grand total of 600 theaters constitutes its nationwide expansion, which puts it at a distinct disadvantage for this week. It may sneak into the top 10, so it could work as a tiebreaker. Just don’t expect it to do big business.

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):

  • Noah – 3,400 theaters
  • Sabotage – 2,400 to 2,500 theaters

Opening in theaters this week (Limited):

  • Bad Words – 600 theaters
  • Cesar Chavez – 600 theaters
  • The Raid 2 – unspecified

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 (Divergent‘s opening): Sal reports there was a two-way tie between Chris B and ThePrinceThatWasPromised. Both had a score of 12. However, ThePrinceThatWasPromised is the official winner by virtue of having the tiebreaker.

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 – Divergent (3)
  • #2 – Muppets Most Wanted (3)
  • #3 – 300: Rise of an Empire (0)
  • #4 – Mr. Peabody and Sherman (1)
  • #5 – Need for Speed (1)
  • #10 – The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Final Score: 8 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)