This is the weekend when Jeffrey Katzenberg, and all of the other studio execs who’ve jumped on the 3-D bandwagon, will see whether their big push to make movies in the in-your-face format will be worth it. They’ll also see whether recession-minded consumers will be willing to pay $3-5 extra for a ticket to a 3-D show.
Monsters vs. Aliens is universally expected to open at No. 1, with execs at DreamWorks Animation, rival studios and most box-office experts predicting a $60 million bow. Still, that’s a lot to expect from an animated movie in March. Only one 2-D animated film has opened with more than $60 million in March, and that was Ice Age 2, which debuted with $68 million in 2006. By opening Monsters in 7,000 screens (courtesy of multiple plays at the same theatre) including 2,218 3-D showings, 143 of which are in the even pricier giant-screen IMAX format, Katzenberg & Co. are hoping that those pricier tickets will goose box-office revenues.
Monsters is making the widest 3-D bow ever, but if you look at past 3-D films, none have opened with more than $33 million, and that record belongs to Spy Kids 3D, which was released in July 2003. Still Monsters has had massive marketing behind it, it’s been getting good reviews (68% freshness rating on rottentomatoes.com), and it only has a 93-minute runtime. If all of those factors work in the ‘toon’s favour, we could see a $60 million haul over the three-day frame. And if Monsters does well, it could convince more theatre owners to make the expensive 3-D upgrade Katzenberg and others have wanted for so long. No pressure.
As for the rest of the weekend’s top 5, Lionsgate’s new horror movie, The Haunting in Connecticut, is tracking well (better than The Last House on the Left two weeks ago), with experts expecting it to pull in $14 million–19 million, good enough for a distant, second-place finish.
Paramount’s other movie, I Love You, Man, still has a lot of buzz around it and has gotten great word-of-mouth since it opened, but some are predicting it will suffer the same 40% second-weekend drop that Jason Segel’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Paul Rudd’s Role Models experienced last year. Nonetheless, our experts are estimating it will have a $10.5 million-12 million weekend.
Knowing is expected to have a 50% drop in business, lowering its weekend total to $11 million-12 million. Duplicity‘s audience of adult women could keep that film afloat at sixth place with a $9 million weekend, a 30-40% drop from last weekend, but Monsters will take a lot of mums out of the crowd.
The weekend’s only other wide new release is 20th Century Fox’s latest nameless action movie, 12 Rounds, fronted by wrestler John Cena. The movie was even produced by the WWE, which has had relatively poor results with its past movies. Add in a general lack of awareness and the film will probably only pull in $6 million–8 million, possibly falling just short of the top 5.