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 American Sniper'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 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 January 23 - 25, 2015.
This weekend, erotic thriller The Boy Next Door debuts in over 2,500 theaters, crime comedy Mortdecai opens in 2,600 theaters, and animated film Strange Magic plays in 2,700 theaters. In limited release, Black Sea opens on four screens, while Cake and Mommy get unspecified releases.
#1 - American Sniper
Look for last week's champ, American Sniper (read our review), to repeat in the top spot during its second weekend of wide release. As we said in our predictions last week, Clint Eastwood's war drama was expected to do very well at the box office when it hit everywhere, but the film exceeded everyone's expectations and became a bona fide blockbuster sensation. For the four-day holiday weekend, it pulled in $107 million, which is not only record-shattering, but also makes Sniper the highest-grossing Best Picture nominee of 2014 despite only being wide for a week.
With little competition for the remainder of the month, Sniper should maintain strong legs and continue to post healthy numbers as we come down the stretch run of awards season. The handful of Oscar nods the movie received will encourage film buffs to check it out, and the hotly debated political controversy over its subject matter will entice others to see what the fuss is all about. Any way you look at it, Sniper is poised to dominate the box office for the next few weeks.
#2 - The Boy Next Door
Coming in a very distant second should be The Boy Next Door, the new erotic thriller starring Jennifer Lopez. While famous as a pop star and a judge on American Idol, J-Lo is not what you would call a box office lock. Her last real hit was Monster in Law, which grossed $82.9 million in 2005. In the interim, she's starred in poorly-received films like What to Expect When You're Expecting ($41.1 million) and The Back-up Plan ($37.4 million), which means her presence isn't a strong an asset as one might think.
Still, coming out in the (relatively) quiet month of January should be an advantage. Early tracking indicates an opening weekend in the range of $14 million, which is the highest out of this week's new arrivals. Even if Boy Next Door can't become a crossover hit, this particular genre has a niche audience that will come out and support it, leading to respectable numbers on its own.
#3 - Paddington
Our pick for third is Paddington (read our review), which finished in this spot last weekend with $18.9 million. If you take a look at the extended four-day totals, the family film managed to reach second, so it's clear it has become an audience favorite. With few other options for this demographic currently playing, Paddington should be able to continue to parlay its strong reviews into healthy box office numbers for a couple more weeks at least.
#4 - The Wedding Ringer
Our pick for fourth is The Wedding Ringer (read our review), which came in second last weekend by making $20.6 million. That's nothing to sneeze at for a January comedy film, but when compared to star Kevin Hart's track record, it's a considerable decline. While we enjoyed it, the overall critical response wasn't as forgiving, and that consensus may very well be a nail in the coffin for this film. As some of the holdovers are doing great business and audiences welcome a slew of new releases, this movie could get lost in the shuffle.
#5 - Mortdecai
Rounding out the top five should be Mortdecai, a comedy crime caper directed by David Koepp and starring Johnny Depp. Not too long ago, having Depp in your film guaranteed a strong opening, but that is no longer the case. It's true that Into the Woods (in which Depp plays the Wolf) has proven commercially viable at $116.4 million, but he is just a supporting player in that musical. The last time he was front and center for a film, we got Transcendence, which opened to a paltry $10.8 million and became one of the most noteworthy flops of 2014.
Looking at Mortdecai, it should be more or less the same. Tracking currently projects it for a $9.5 million debut, which is far from one might expect from a star-studded production such as this. Perhaps audiences aren't as enchanted by Depp's "eccentric weirdo" schtick anymore, but the actor certainly seems to have lost some of that luster that made him a global sensation years ago.
Though it is getting a wide release, we don't expect Strange Magic to make the top five this week. Marketing for the movie has been scarce, and early tracking isn't in its favor, as it is projected to bring in just $6 million this weekend. Normally, you don't bet against movies in this genre, but when awareness is as low as it is here, you make an exception.
Last Week's Recap
Based on the three-day totals (keeping with the old box office battle tradition), we were spot on with our predictions save for one major misfire. We had thought that the clout of filmmaker Michael Mann and star Chris Hemsworth would allow Blackhat to overcome its critical shortcomings and make some kind of money, but the cyber thriller barely made the top ten, making $3.9 million in its first three days. In its place was Selma, which, given the holiday weekend, performed strong with $8.7 million.
Next Week: Black or White, Project Almanac, and more!