Thursday, December 3, 2015

Holiday 2015 Box Office Predictions (PART ONE)

The holiday season always brings a bevy of new films to movie theaters across the country, so, hey, why not, just for fun, we take a look at how these new features may fare at box office? Yes, we all know the new Star Wars adventure will rake up big bucks, but what about In The Heart Of The Sea or The Big Short or Daddy's Home? The financial fates of those films is less clear, so I'm here to offer my predictions on how those will do!

Just a heads up, this is part one of these box office predictions. There are ten wide releases coming out over the next three weeks (I'm counting the expansions into wide release that The Big Short and The Danish Girl will undergo on Christmas Day), so today I'll look at the five closest to release films and then tomorrow I'll look at the remaining five features. Sound good? Alright then, on with the show!

December 11th
In The Heart Of The Sea
Warner Bros. moving this one from its original March 2015 perch to a December 2015 date was deemed a curious tactic by many once it happened, especially since the marketing for the film was already well underway. In The Heart Of The Sea will likely drum up solid, though not extraordinary business once it opens up, with the best box office comparison for this one maybe being Everest. Both are "men-enduring-the-elements" films, though Everest had a far more famous location at the center of its marketing (Mt. Everest of course), it also burned off demand with a one week play in IMAX 3D before debuting to $13.2 million in its first weekend in wide release. A similar number will likely occur for In The Heart Of The Sea, which, while dealing with far lesser known true story elements, won't burn off demand with a one week stay in IMAX 3D locations, which should help it match the opening weekend of Everest.

Opening Weekend: $14 million
Total Gross: $65 million

December 18th
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
So, card's on the table, laying it all out there...I'm gonna wager Star Wars: The Force Awakens doesn't break the opening weekend record set by Jurassic World.

Could I be wrong on this? Hell yeah. If any franchise is gonna prove anyone wrong, it's Star Wars, king of subverting expectations (sometimes for good, sometimes for bad). But December releases typically act far different than summertime fare, with grosses being more spaced out thanks to people being off for extended periods of time for the holidays. This leads to movies sticking around a bit longer, with films like current biggest December opening weekend The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey turning an $84 million into a $303 million domestic haul. There's also the fact that inclement weather may damper its grosses, as Avatar (which opened on this exact date six years ago) experienced massive dips in major cities like Baltimore and Washington D.C. from Friday to Saturday of 75 and 86 percent, respectively, thanks to bad weather.

All that being said, this is still gonna easily become the first December release of all-time to make over $100 million in its opening weekend and it should also have no trouble at all soaring past $150 million. Disney has done a great job mining peoples nostalgia while promising plenty of new characters and adventures, and if reviews turn out to be positive, that could only add to the deafening hype surround the feature.

Opening Weekend: $183 million
Total Gross: $710 million
While opening against Star Wars: The Force Awakens might sound foolhardy, Sisters is actually pretty damn smart counterprogramming, as both films serve different audiences. Moviegoers looking for more action-packed fare will have Star Wars, while those looking for a move overtly humorous feature will have the R-rated Sisters. Interestingly, this film marks one of the most high profile films for both Tina Fey and Amy Poehler yet, the duo not having worked together in a film since Baby Mama and since then the two have mostly done family films (Poehler has done two of the Alvin And The Chipmunks sequels and Inside Out, Fey has been busy with MegaMind and Muppets Most Wanted), but their work together on the Golden Globes and on SNL has certainly cemented them as a beloved duo, and the prospect of seeing them work together in a new film will likely hold lots of appeal. Toss in a marketing campaign that's brought out some memorable gags, and I'm going gutsy with this one and predicting it'll be the sleeper hit of the Christmas season.
Opening Weekend: $25 million
Total Gross: $120 million

Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip
Yeah, the bloom is off the rose for this franchise. The first Alvin And The Chipmunks film had the novelty (if you could call it that) of seeing these well-known pop culture icons in the "real" world, while the sequel brought female counterparts to the table. The third entry already saw a major dip in its domestic gross (a sharp 40% drop from $219 million to $133 million), and after a four year break, this new chipmunk tale will doubtlessly see another domestic box office tumble. No compelling new plot details, gags, characters or even musical covers are presented in the trailers, and with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Good Dinosaur out in the marketplace, parents have other places to turn for family friendly entertainment.
Opening Weekend: $10 million
Total Gross: $60 million

December 23rd
The Big Short
Trying to get a head start on fellow Christmas Day dramas Joy and Concussion by opening two days before Christmas is The Big Short, which is unlikely to find mainstream box office success despite the presence of four big name stars (none of whom are without box office blemishes of course). It's premise dealing with Wall Street and the 2007 Financial Crisis is unlikely to appeal to conventional moviegoers looking for more upbeat and kinetic entertainment over the holidays. Luckily, this one wasn't too costly (this one has a $28 million budget), and its early reviews are extremely positive, meaning it may have legs at the box office.

Opening Weekend: $9.6 million ($11.8 million over its first five days)
Total Gross: $44 million

Come back tomorrow when I'll be looking at the other five box office releases that'll be unleashed onto the populace on Christmas Day!

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