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Nicholas Sparks' 'The Lucky One' Could Top 'Hunger Games'

Nicholas Sparks' 'The Lucky One' Could Top 'Hunger Games'
4/19/2012 2:28 PM ET

After four straight weeks of dominating the box office, "The Hunger Games" could finally give up the number one slot on the charts this weekend, as romantic drama "The Lucky One" should have enough appeal to finish as the top box office draw. Also hitting theaters this weekend is comedy "Think Like a Man," though at just 1,800 total sites it will have a hard time even landing in the top five. Another title getting a fairly limited release is Disney's nature documentary "Chimpanzee," which will hit 1,500 theaters this weekend as it hopes to find a home with family audiences.

Even though novelist Nicholas Sparks hasn't seen one of his books turn into a runaway blockbuster, he's provided the material for a bevy of bona fide hits over the years, setting the stage for "The Lucky One" to hit with its intended demographic. Recent Sparks adaptations like "Dear John" and "The Last Song" have played well with their target audience, helping secure a release of more than 3,000 theaters this weekend for "The Lucky One." In a similarly sized release, "Dear John" hauled in $30 million in its opening weekend back in March of 2010, though most Sparks releases have opened in the $13 to $16 million range.

Starring Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling, "The Lucky One" should have a large enough built-in audience to at least get it off the ground this weekend, particularly with few other options for date audiences. Efron doesn't have the same level of popularity as Channing Tatum, the star of "Dear John," but "The Lucky One" still looks to be poised for a steady opening in the neighborhood of $20 million, which should easily be enough to topple "The Hunger Games" as it enters its fifth weekend in theaters.

While some date audiences pour in to see PG-13 "The Lucky One," others might end up turning to "Think Like a Man," though a limited, 1,800-theater release suggests that it will be a tough sell to wide audiences. With a predominately African-American cast, PG-13 "Think Like a Man" is getting a release size similar to Tyler Perry's comedies, though "Think Like a Man" won't have Perry's proven track record backing it up. Not helped by minimal online buzz heading into the weekend, look for "Think Like a Man" to struggle and finish the weekend with only $7 or $8 million in opening revenue.

Another title that probably won't find too many mainstream audiences will be "Chimpanzee," a G-rated documentary from Disney. Disney has released a nature documentary each of the last three years, though their commercial impact has been fairly limited; the last two nature documentaries, "Oceans" and "African Cats," opened at around 1,200 theaters and both made roughly $6 million in opening revenue. Backed by some critical support, "Chimpanzee" should at least have enough clout to put up a similar opening total, though even a top-five opening is probably out of the question.

Even with a few new titles hitting theaters, "The Hunger Games" should retain a high percentage of its potential audience as it continues to push toward $400 million domestically. Partly due to a lack of competition, "The Hunger Games" has seen small declines over the past two weekends, though even a 35% drop from last weekend will likely be enough for it to fall to number two on the box office charts.

While "The Hunger Games" remains a substantial hit all across the globe, "Titanic 3D" also continues to pull in big audiences, particularly outside of the U.S. Last weekend, "Titanic 3D" was far and away the top earner in foreign revenue, pushing it to a 3D re-release record $168 million in foreign revenue. With the extra revenue from the 3D re-release, "Titanic" has now surpassed $2 billion in worldwide revenue, giving director James Cameron the only two $2 billion grossing films of all-time.

Next weekend, John Cusack's thriller "The Raven" is among the most prominent new titles hitting theaters followed by Jason Statham's latest R-rated thriller "Safe" and family film "The Pirates! Band of Misfits." Following in the footsteps of "Bridesmaids," R-rated comedy "The Five-Year Engagement" is also getting launched, with Jason Segel and Emily Blunt co-starring.

RTT Box Office Predictions for 4/20/12 - 4/22/12 (In Millions):

1. The Lucky One (Warner Brothers): $19

2. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate): $14.7

3. The Cabin in the Woods (Lionsgate): $8.6

4. The Three Stooges (Fox): $8.5

5. Think Like a Man (Sony/Screen Gems): $8

6. Titanic 3D (Paramount): $6.3

7. Chimpanzee (Disney): $5.8

8. American Reunion (Universal): $5.1

9. Mirror Mirror (Relativity): $3.7

10. 21 Jump Street (Sony/Columbia): $3.8

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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