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 Lone Survivor'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 January 17-19, 2014.
This weekend, found footage horror film Devil's Due gets a release of 2,700 theaters, action reboot Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit sees a debut of 3,000 theaters, animated movie The Nut Job gets a release between 3,200 to 3,400 theaters and action comedy Ride Along opens in over 2,000 theaters.
#1 - Ride Along
Our choice for the top spot this week is the new action comedy Ride Along. The film has enjoyed a strong marketing campaign leading up to its release, selling audiences on the (potentially) strong chemistry between Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.
Hart seems poised to become a breakout star. The comedian was part of an ensemble that carried Think Like a Man to $91.5 million in 2012. His stand-up concert film Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain grossed $32.2 million at 892 locations last summer. That may not seem like a high number, but it ranks fourth all-time among theatrically released comedy concerts. It’s clear that Hart’s popularity is rising and now he looks ready to make the transition to leading man.
#2 - Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Coming in second should be Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Paramount’s reboot of the Jack Ryan franchise was originally scheduled for release on Christmas 2013, but was pushed back to mid-January. The release date shift could end up being beneficial, as the spy thriller now avoids being lost in the wave of holiday newcomers and is instead one of the premiere new films on the market.
Star Chris Pine gives this film a somewhat recognizable name thanks to his turns as Captain Kirk in the two most recent Star Trek movies (including last year’s Star Trek Into Darkness, which grossed $228.7 million). However, he’s not a guaranteed box office draw, as evident by This Means War making only $54.7 million in 2012. Still, the Jack Ryan brand has hits such as Clear and Present Danger ($122.1 million) and The Hunt for Red October (just over $122 million) to its credit and fans of Tom Clancy could be interested to check this one out. While the marketing hasn’t done quite enough to differentiate Shadow Recruit from similar titles like Skyfall and Bourne, it could still be an appealing option for moviegoers.
#3 - Lone Survivor
Look for last week’s champ, Lone Survivor (read our review) to fall to third in its second week of wide release. The war film exceeded expectations last week by making an astounding $37.8 million in its first three days, the second-highest January opening of all-time. Viewers have been drawn to the movie’s emotional true story about courage and brotherhood, which in turn has led to strong word-of-mouth and critical reception. Due to its big start, Lone Survivor will have strong legs at the box office, but the arrival of two new major releases could cause its numbers to slip a bit.
#4 - Frozen
Our pick for fourth place is Frozen (read our review). Disney’s latest animated hit has had a tremendous box office run so far, grossing $14.7 last weekend to raise its domestic total to $317.3 million. Finishing in second last week indicates that this film still has staying power with families, and even though The Nut Job opens this weekend, we expect Frozen will hold on to a spot in the top five since The Nut Job’s early projected numbers are very low.
#5 - The Wolf of Wall Street
Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (read our review) has been going back and forth with David O. Russell’s American Hustle (read our review) for the duration of its theatrical run. That probably won’t change this week, as both awards contenders are sure to get a boost thanks to their Golden Globe wins and impending Oscar nominations (which will be announced Thursday). We’re giving the edge to Jordan Belfort because Wolf managed to barely beat Hustle last week ($8.8 million vs. $8.3 million), but this race could conceivably go either way.
#10 - Saving Mr. Banks
We do not expect Devil’s Due to crack the top five. The found footage horror film is entering theaters with very little buzz and the underperforming Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones ($28.4 million through two weeks) is a sign that audiences are tired of this overplayed gimmick.
Typically, it’s not wise to underestimate an animated family film, but we also believe that The Nut Job will find it difficult to make the top five. Early tracking numbers are troublingly low and the juggernaut that is Frozen will continue to post solid numbers – especially if it scores an Oscar nod for Best Animated Feature, as many expect it to do.
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):
- Devil's Due - 2,700 theaters
- Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - 3,000 theaters
- The Nut Job - 3,200 to 3,400 theaters
- Ride Along - 2,000+ theaters
Opening in theaters this week (Limited):
NOTE: For the purposes of our game, we will be using the three-day totals from January 17 - 19 as opposed to the full four-day numbers during the holiday weekend.
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 (Lone Survivor's opening): Sal reports that the winner is The Prince That Was Promised, who scored 13 points.
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 - Lone Survivor (3)
- #2 - Frozen (3)
- #3 - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (0)
- #4 - The Wolf of Wall Street (3)
- #5 - American Hustle (3)
- #10 - Inside Llewyn Davis
- Final Score: 12 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)