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 Hot Tub Time Machine 2'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 February 27 - March 1, 2015.
This weekend, crime drama Focus opens in more than 3,200 theaters and horror flick The Lazarus Effect debuts in 2,500 locations. In limited release, we have '71 and Everly playing on an unspecified number of screens, A La Mala opening in 350 locations, and Maps to the Stars debuting in 50 theaters.
#1 - Focus
Our pick for first place this week is new arrival Focus, which is a crime drama starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie. This particular genre has a solid track record at the box office, especially when there are A-list talents involved (as is the case here). Previous crime films like Ocean's Eleven, The Wolf of Wall Street, and American Hustle have shown that moviegoers are interested in these types of stories, which will play into Focus' favor. Early reviews aren't available yet (sometimes a bad sign), but the highly-visible marketing campaign has done a nice job selling viewers on the premise, which also helps.
Smith was once the king of the box office, but he's hit a snag in his career recently, most infamously with the colossal bomb of After Earth. Even though he's not as popular as he once was, casual audiences still like watching him on the big screen, and the fact that Smith and Robbie both have key roles in next year's Suicide Squad will entice more people to check this one out. Projected for a $22 million opening weekend, Focus has a nice path to the top.
#2 - Kingsman: The Secret Service
For the third consecutive week, our pick for second is Kingsman: The Secret Service (read our review). Matthew Vaughn's love letter to old school spy adventures came in this spot last week, grossing $18.3 million. That's only a 49.3 percent drop from its debut, meaning that this Mark Millar adaptation has mainstream audiences in its corner. The positive word-of-mouth it has garnered will only be a benefit moving forward, and between sequel talk and star Taron Egerton rumored to play young Han Solo, there are several factors that will continue to draw people in.
#3 - Fifty Shades of Grey
Look for the two-time defending champ, Fifty Shades of Grey (read our review), to get spanked (sorry, couldn't resist) into third this week. The steamy erotic drama was able to deliver on its hype when it opened to huge numbers over Valentine's Day weekend, but the horrible critical and audience reaction doomed any chances it had of staying at the top longterm. In its second weekend, Fifty Shades took a 73.9 percent dive, which is a clear illustration that the film doesn't have strong enough legs to contend with better-reviewed options. Fans of the book will come out to support it, but moviegoers are no longer curious.
#4 - The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
Our pick for fourth is The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (read our review), which continues to be a successful holdover for the family crowd. Last week, the film added an additional $16.5 million to its already stellar domestic total and is showing no signs of slowing down. It should be another lucrative weekend in Bikini Bottom.
#5 - The Lazarus Effect
Rounding out the top five should be The Lazarus Effect. The new horror film, like so many other movies recently, comes to theaters with a limited advertising campaign, meaning that awareness for the film could be low. Regardless, it could very well end up being like The DUFF or McFarland, USA - both of which exceeded expectations - in that Lazarus plays into a passionate demographic. Horror fans have had slim pickings lately, so this could emerge as an appealing option for them.
However, Lazarus isn't going to be the next horror movie sensation. Projections are currently pointing to a $9 million opening, which is good enough for fifth some weekends, but hardly the type of money a film needs to become a blockbuster. This will probably be another fresh film that comes and goes in a short span of time.
Last Week's Recap
While we got the first three films spot-on, things got a little dicier at the bottom of the charts. We did not see the epic fail of Hot Tub Time Machine 2's opening weekend coming, as the comedy sequel placed seventh (instead of our predicted sixth). And despite having limited awareness, both The DUFF and McFarland, USA were able to claim spots in the top five when we thought they'd be too small to manage that. Still, 3/5 isn't bad.
Next Week: Chappie, Unfinished Business, and more!