Hitting more than 3,500 total venues around the country, PG-13 action-adventure "Jack the Giant Slayer" easily has the most commercial potential this weekend as we get started on the typically lucrative month of March. Other titles getting launched this weekend include R-rated comedy "21 and Over," horror-thriller "The Last Exorcism Part 2" and limited release "Phantom," an action-thriller that is slated to reach just 2,000 venues. Even with new competition for audiences from "21 and Over," "Identity Thief" should also put up one more sizable weekend to make it the first 2013 release to cross the $100 million domestic plateau.
The last time that director Bryan Singer had a massive budget and major commercial expectations was with his 2006 release "Superman Returns," a film that cost $270 million just to produce and failed to spawn the franchise that Warner Brothers had hoped. Though his "Valkyrie" was a moderate hit a few years later, Singer is back with "Jack the Giant Slayer," which cost an estimated $195 million to make and takes aim at a wide international audience.
While March was formerly another difficult month to launch a prominent film, the tide has completely changed recently with a slew of lucrative releases, including last year's "The Hunger Games" and "The Lorax" and other recent hits like "Alice in Wonderland" and "Rango." After a very slow month of February, there should also be plenty of moviegoers ready to head back to the multiplex, which should only help get "Jack the Giant Slayer" get off the ground this weekend. With some decent critical buzz, a fairly well-known storyline and no genre competition, "Jack the Giant Slayer" could earn somewhere near $30 million this weekend - easily enough to open atop the charts.
Also looking to find a wide audience is "21 and Over," an R-rated comedy hoping to pick up where "Identity Thief" left off. But while "Identity Thief" is finally fading heading into its fourth weekend in theaters, there is still enough of an audience to make it difficult on "21 and Over" as it hits an estimated 2,500 total venues in the U.S. "21 and Over" also has a complete lack of popular names in its cast, though the high-concept material should still be a fairly easy sell to younger adult audiences starting this weekend. Look for "21 and Over" to put up a decent $13 to $15 million this weekend, placing it near the top of the box office.
Also likely to make an impact this weekend is "The Last Exorcism Part 2." Though "The Last Exorcism" seemed like a stand-alone film, given its title, the movie was simply too lucrative to ignore, grossing $67 million around the globe despite a minuscule production budget of less than $2 million. Ever since William Friedkin's "The Exorcist" became nothing short of a cultural phenomenon when it hit theaters in the early 1970s, audiences have continued to turn up for exorcism-themed horror films - a trend unlikely to change any time in the near future. Though it's improbable that "Part 2" will approach the $20 million opening its predecessor saw a few years ago, a solid debut in the $12-$14 million range seems likely for the CBS Films distribution.
Not in as good of a position this weekend is "Phantom," a somewhat limited action-thriller starring Ed Harris as a Cold War Russian submarine captain. "Phantom" has been given the bare bones marketing treatment and is getting only a 2,000-theater release from RCR Distribution, which seems to be a clear sign that commercial expectations are extremely limited. Expect "Phantom" to struggle amid a bevy of other options this weekend and to finish outside of the top 10 with less than $5 million.
Next weekend, the box office should get rejuvenated with the wide release of "Oz The Great and Powerful," director Sam Raimi's big-budget spin-off from landmark film "The Wizard of Oz." Considering the popularity of stage spin-offs like "Wicked," "Oz The Great and Powerful" should be in position to put up some big numbers both domestically and abroad starting on March 8th. Colin Farrell's thriller "Dead Man Down" also hits theaters next weekend, though it will have a hard time competing for mainstream audiences.
RTT Box Office Predictions for 3/1/13 - 3/3/13 (in millions):
1) Jack the Giant Slayer (Warner Brothers): $29
2) 21 and Over (Relativity): $13
3) The Last Exorcism Part 2 (CBS Films): $12
4) Identity Thief (Universal): $8.6
5) Snitch (Summit): $6.7
6) Escape from Planet Earth (Weinstein): $6.2
7) Safe Haven (Relativity): $5.3
8) A Good Day to Die Hard (Fox): $4.9
9) Silver Linings Playbook (Weinstein): $4.8
10) Dark Skies (Weinstein): $4.2
by RTT Staff Writer
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