In what should be the strongest weekend at the box office since July, action-thriller "Taken 2" hits theaters looking to build on the tremendous success of the original, which should be easily enough for it to land as the number one movie in the U.S. Also hitting theaters will be Tim Burton's animated "Frankenweenie," though competition from "Hotel Transylvania" will make it difficult as it appeals to family audiences. Comedy "Pitch Perfect" will expand to wide audiences as well this weekend, hoping to build off of a strong limited release a week ago to make a dent near the top of the box office.
Backed by a controversial PG-13 rating, the original "Taken" had a very rare box office run in the winter of 2009, one that ended up making it among the most lucrative films of the entire year. Despite being launched in the dead of winter with a production budget of only $25 million, "Taken" clicked with action audiences and landed in the top 10 for nine consecutive weekends from January to March, helping it rack up $145 million in the U.S. and more than $200 million worldwide.
With start Liam Neeson back for the sequel, expectations are understandably high. Even with some of the worst critical lashings of the year, "Taken 2" has a clear built-in audience familiar with the original and should have no problem finding its wide audience with another PG-13 rating. Though there is some competition from "Looper" and "End of Watch," neither has strong enough audience support to sway viewers from "Taken 2," setting up a very big opening weekend as it hits more than 3,000 total venues. Expect a weekend near $40 million for the Fox release, which should easily be enough to top the charts.
Aiming for a different audience will be "Frankenweenie," a PG animated film from the mind of director Tim Burton. Though Burton's "Dark Shadows" mainly flopped in theaters this summer, "Frankenweenie" is backed by strong critical support and has a concept that families could easily embrace this weekend. Burton hasn't directed an animated film since 2005's "Corpse Bride," a release that did so-so in theaters, but "Frankenweenie" should have much wider overall appeal.
The biggest problem, though, is the competition it will get from "Hotel Transylvania." After hauling in a nice opening of $42 million a week ago, "Hotel Transylvania" is still in line to make more than $20 million this weekend, which will probably slice into the opening potential of "Frankenweenie." Expect "Frankenweenie" to post a decent $25 to $30 million but to also do well in the following weeks if it can catch on with families.
The other movie that should be a factor at the box office this weekend will be "Pitch Perfect," a PG-13 comedy set to expand to roughly 2,700 theaters. At just 335 theaters a week ago, "Pitch Perfect" still managed to bring in more than $5 million and land in the top 10, suggesting that there will be an audience ready to embrace it as it gets its expansion to more cities. Starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, "Pitch Perfect" should benefit from a complete lack of non-animated comedies, which could help it make roughly $15 million this weekend for distributor Universal.
Now that we're through the slowest part of the box office year, there is an eclectic set of releases slated to hit theaters from here until the end of 2012. Next weekend, actor/director Ben Affleck's Oscar-hopeful "Argo" will be among the biggest releases reaching theaters, though it will have strong competition for adult audiences.
Horror-thriller "Sinister" should also make its mark at the box office and so might R-rated action-comedy "Seven Psychopaths," writer/director Martin McDonagh's follow-up to his critically revered "In Bruges." Also getting launched will be Kevin James' latest comedy "Here Comes the Boom," which should have a similar level of family appeal as his releases "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" and "The Zookeeper."
RTT Box Office Predictions for 10/5/12 - 10/7/12 (in millions):
1) Taken 2 (Fox): $42
2) Frankenweenie (Disney): $29
3) Hotel Transylvania (Sony/Columbia): $22
4) Pitch Perfect (Universal): $16
5) Looper (TriStar): $11
6) End of Watch (Open Road Films): $4.2
7) Trouble with the Curve (Warner Bros.): $3.9
8) House at the End of the Street (Relativity): $3.6
9) Pitch Perfect (Universal): $2.6
10) Finding Nemo 3D (Disney): $2.2
by RTT Staff Writer
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