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 The Longest Ride'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 April 17 - 19, 2015.
This weekend, comedy sequel Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 opens in 3,600 theaters, horror flick Unfriended debuts in more then 2,600 locations, and nature documentary Monkey Kingdom is released in 2,000 theaters. In limited release, both True Story and Child 44 hit 500 theaters each.
#1 - Furious 7
Look for last week's champ, Furious 7 (read our review), to finish on top for the third consecutive week. Ever since shattering the April opening weekend record two weeks ago, the action sequel has been dominating the box office. It's already the highest-grossing installment in the long-running franchise, and is on pace to clear $1 billion before its theatrical run is over. Even with a 59.5 percent decrease in its second weekend, Furious 7 was still well ahead of the competition with $59.5 million last week. Between the critical and audience reaction to the film, it seems unlikely this is when its reign will end.
#2 - Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Coming in second should be Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. The film is a sequel to 2009's Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which grossed $146.3 million domestically (including $31.8 million in its opening weekend). Star Kevin James isn't exactly a box office lock (Here Comes the Boom), but when he's within the confines of a franchise, he tends to do well financially (Grown Ups 2). That bodes well for Blart, as the movie is projected to take in $25 million during its first three days, even though no one is exactly clamoring for another adventure with the mall cop.
The original film managed to top the box office, but we don't see that happening for the sequel. First, it's going against a behemoth in Furious 7, which is still drawing in crowds at a large rate. Second, the six year gap between installments may have quelled any "demand" even fervent fans may have had for a sequel - which would have a negative impact on ticket sales. Still, with comedy fans looking for something and the family-friendly PG rating adding to its appeal, Paul Blart 2 should find a sizable audience.
#3 - Unfriended
Our pick for third is horror movie Unfriended, which is about a group of teenagers on a Skype call that is "haunted" by the account of their deceased classmate. Some may scoff at that premise (and the "found footage" aspect showcased in the trailers), but the film has so far been generating a positive critical response, with some pundits saying it is suspenseful and unnerving. Horror junkies have been hungry for something fresh, and maybe this will do the trick.
Tracking has the film projected at a $21 million opening, which is more than a respectable total for a movie such as this. Unfriended may not have mass crossover appeal like similar titles may have - which will prevent it from becoming a true crossover hit. However, with the strong word-of-mouth it's been generating and the positive reactions to marketing via social media, it looks like Universal will be able to do good business with their investment. If everything breaks right, it may even reach the top spot - though the difference in projections gives us pause for that right now.
#4 - Home
Our pick for fourth is Home (read our review). The latest film from DreamWorks animation has taken advantage of the limited competition for its target audience, and added $18.5 million to its domestic total en route to a second place finish last week. With a couple of new wide releases hitting theaters on Friday, this holdover will start to see a decrease in numbers, but it's performing well enough to hang around the top five for at least another week.
#5 - The Longest Ride
Rounding out the top five should be The Longest Ride. The new Nicholas Sparks adaptation won't be as successful as some of the other films based on the author's romance novels (as the $13 million debut would indicate), but there's still a niche audience for this that will seek it out. Its time in the top five may have been brief, but one can't underestimate the counter-programming appeal this will have amidst various genre pictures.
Last Week's Recap
We correctly predicted the top five for the week.
Next Week: Furious 7, The Age of Adaline, and more!