A box office position that the "Star Wars" franchise is no stranger to is the top of the charts, and that's exactly where "Episode I - The Phantom Menace" should end up this weekend as it gets its 3D re-release. Also hitting theaters will be "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," the follow-up to the commercially successful 2008 family film "Journey to the Center of the Earth." Aiming mainly at different demographics will be R-rated thriller "Safe House," starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, and the Rachel McAdams-starring romantic drama "The Vow," though neither one looks to be set up for a big opening.
Despite grumbling from "Star Wars" fans about George Lucas' frequent tinkering with his beloved franchise, audiences will still show up whenever there is a new special edition DVD set or theatrical re-release. When "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" was re-released in 1997, it ended up torching the top of the charts for three straight weekends from late January to early February. "A New Hope" went on to rack up $138 million domestically during its re-release, which would adjust to more than $200 million with today's ticket prices.
Though "Episode I - The Phantom Menace" isn't nearly as loved as "Episode IV," "V" or "VI," it still has the advantage of appealing to multiple generations, making it an easy sell even if Jar-Jar Binks hasn't been edited out. At an estimated 2,600 theaters, "The Phantom Menace" probably won't approach the $31 million that "A New Hope" hauled in back in 1997, though 3D tickets prices and wide appeal should be enough to guide it to the top of the charts with somewhere around $20 to $25 million.
While "The Phantom Menace" looks to pick up a wide variety of different demographics, families might turn to "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island." With The Rock stepping in for Brendan Fraser, "Journey 2" is the only real option for families outside of "The Phantom Menace," which should help it put together a decent opening weekend. "Journey 2" doesn't seem to have the same appeal as the original, but it also is receiving an aggressive distribution of 3,400 total theaters and should be able to finish the weekend in the neighborhood of $17 to $20 million.
Thriller "Safe House" will also be looking to scoop up some mainstream audiences, though negative critical buzz and some leftover competition from "The Grey" could make for a difficult opening weekend. Hitting roughly 3,000 total venues, "Safe House" does at least have some star power in Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, though early February remains a difficult time to drum up a blockbuster. "Safe House" should open near the top of the box office with somewhere around $15 to $18 million, which probably won't be enough to beat out "Journey 2" or "The Phantom Menace."
The final wide release of the weekend, "The Vow," looks to be in an even tougher position as it gets launched at an estimated 2,800 theaters this weekend. With stars Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum leading the cast, "The Vow" should have some appeal to date audiences, though that wasn't enough to save Katherine Heigl's recent release "One for the Money." "The Vow" should be able to easily clear $10 million, but a chart-topping weekend seems out of the question and action-comedy "This Means War" will give it plenty of competition for date audiences starting next week.
As we head further into the typically slow part of the box office schedule, next weekend we'll see a trio of films that are all far from box office locks. Nicolas Cage will give the "Ghost Rider" franchise another go with "Spirit of Vengeance," which should be the widest release of the weekend, and romantic action-comedy "This Means War" will hope to ride the popularity of Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine to a solid opening. Buena Vista will also be releasing the dubbed version of master animator Hayao Miyazaki's "The Secret World of Arrietty," which is already a big international hit.
RTT Box Office Predictions for 2/10/12 - 2/12/12 (In Millions):
1. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3D (Fox): $24
2. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Warner Brothers): $18.50
3. Safe House (Universal): $17.50
4. Chronicle (Fox): $13
5. The Vow (Sony/Screen Gems): $12.50
6. The Woman in Black (CBS Films): $10
7. The Grey (Open Road Films): $5.3
8. Big Miracle (Universal): $4.8
9. Underworld: Awakening (Screen Gems): $2.8
10. One for the Money (Lionsgate): $2.6
by RTT Staff Writer
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