Box Office Prediction: 'Ender's Game' vs. 'Free Birds'

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 Bad Grandpa'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 November 1st - November 3rd, 2013.

This weekend, the sci-fi adaptation Ender's Game opens in 3,350 theaters, animated holiday film Free Birds debuts in 3,500 theaters, and the comedy Last Vegas sees a release of 2,800 theaters. About Time opens in a limited release of 175 theaters, Dallas Buyers Club is released in 6 theaters, and Diana gets an unspecified limited release.


#1 - Free Birds

Our choice for the top spot this week is the new animated film Free Birds. The movie fills a void in the marketplace, as it is the first new family release since September’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. While early tracking numbers are somewhat low, you can never underestimate a family film at the box office. The subject matter (time-traveling turkeys try to prevent their kind from being the traditional Thanksgiving meal) could also give this a boost since it hits theaters only a few weeks from the holiday.

#2 - Ender's Game

The sci-fi adaptation Ender’s Game is our pick for second place. Even though it features high profile actors such as Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley, there’s some concern as to how recognizable the source material is to modern audiences. Fans of the book series (originally published in the 1980s) should be excited, but it’s doubtful that the brand strikes a chord with mainstream moviegoers.

Also hurting Ender's Game's chances is the fact that it lacks a bankable star to build a marketing campaign around. Neither Ford nor Kingsley are big draws anymore and the younger actors haven't proven themselves yet. Asa Butterfield (Hugo: $73.8 million) and Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit: $171.2 million) have appeared in mainstream hits, but are not recognizable enough to bring people to the theater. That said, the trailers have promised viewers exciting genre thrills, so curious moviegoers could check this out.


#3 - Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

Look for last week’s champ, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (read our review), to fall to third in its second week. The franchise spinoff grossed over $32 million last weekend, showing that audiences love a laugh. It may get some competition in the form of Last Vegas this weekend, but the Jackass name is big enough for us to think Bad Grandpa will continue to perform strongly.

#4 - Gravity

Coming in fourth should be Gravity (read our review). Alfonso Cuarón’s space thriller was unseated as box office king last week when it finished second with a $20.1 million gross. The numbers are starting to show that audiences are moving on, but Oscar buzz and great word-of-mouth could be enough to keep this film in the top five for another week.

#5 - Last Vegas

Our choice to round out the top five is Last Vegas. The comedy, which features Hollywood icons Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, and Kevin Kline, has teased a “Hangover for old guys” adventure in the TV spots. A more conventional comedy than Bad Grandpa, there’s definitely a good chance Last Vegas finds an audience, particularly with the older crowd. Still, the adult marketplace is crowded this weekend (holdovers like Gravity and Captain Phillips are still performing well) and the PG-13 rating may turn comedy fans off – since some moviegoers could be expecting a raunchier movie given the premise. It’s unlikely it does big business, but it should do fine on its own.

Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, Robert de Niro and Michael Douglas in Last Vegas

#10 - 12 Years a Slave

Our number ten tiebreaker this week is Steven McQueen’s Oscar contender 12 Years a Slave. The drama, which had been in a limited release the past two weekends, is expanding to more markets on Friday. After making $2.1 million at 123 locations last week, the film is poised to have another solid performance at the box office. Competition may prevent it from cracking the top five, but audiences are turning out to see it.

That's it for this week's breakdown.


Screen Rant Underground Podcast

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):

  • Ender's Game - 3,350 theaters
  • Free Birds - 3,500 theaters
  • Last Vegas - 2,800 theaters

Opening in theaters this week (Limited):

  • About Time - 175 theaters
  • Dallas Buyers Club - 6 theaters
  • Diana - 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 (Bad Grandpa opening): Sal reports that Carlos is the winner with a perfect score of 15.

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 - Gravity (1)
  • #2 - The Counselor (0)
  • #3 - Captain Phillips (3)
  • #4 - Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (0)
  • #5 - Carrie (1)
  • #10 - Prisoners
  • Final Score: 5 points and a perfect tiebreaker


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)

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