Box-Office Preview: Three Newcomers Take On “Witch Mountain”


With three high-profile new releases (Knowing; I Love You, Man; and Julia Roberts’ quasi-comeback vehicle Duplicity) bowing this weekend, plus what will likely be strong holdover business from Race to Witch Mountain, it should be a close race to see which one emerges at the top (of the box office that is.)

There, the real battle will probably be between Knowing and I Love You, Man.

For the past few weeks, Knowing had been leading in industry tracking, and looked like it could end up at No. 1, but out of our group of box-office experts (Nikki Finke, /Film, Entertainment Weekly and Rope of Silicon), only Nikki put Knowing at No. 1 based on her industry sources. However, we heard the same prediction from two of our own industry sources earlier this week.

But it is possible that I Love You, Man could pull ahead, since Knowing actually flattened in industry tracking over the course of the week while I Love You, Man was picking up steam. Also, even though Summit’s film is opening in more theatres than any other newcomer (3,000+) and audiences shouldn’t be scared away by its apocalyptic premise, it does have a lousy 21% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, it should be a close race between both films.

In terms of three-day grosses, the consensus among our experts seems to be that Paramount/Dreamworks’ I Love You, Man, will make $20 million-$21 million, which should be good enough for a first or second place finish. Knowing‘s estimates, meanwhile, are all over the place. EW put it in fourth place with $12 million, thinking it will be another Nic Cage flop while Nikki Finke predicts it will finish with $25 million and take the top spot. We’re going with the casual predictions we’ve heard and what Slashfilm estimated: a three-day total in the $20 million neighbourhood.

Universal’s Duplicity, meanwhile, should end up in second or third place, depending on how well the film attracts the sophisticated, adult audience at which it’s aimed. Our experts’ estimates put its three-day total at roughly $15-17 million.

As for Race to Witch Mountain, it should continue to do strong business since it’s the only new family movie out there. (Enjoy it while you can, Disney! You’re liable to take a major hit from Monsters vs. Aliens next weekend.) Estimates range from $14 million$17 million, putting the film in third or fourth place for the weekend, unless you’re Entertainment Weekly‘s Joshua Rich, who thinks Race will come in second.

Slashfilm, EW and Rope of Silicon are all in agreement about the fifth spot, though: that one belongs to Watchmen, which could grab $7.5 million$9.6 million, finally bringing its total domestic gross to $100 million.

But we wouldn’t be surprised if there was a morbidly inspired resurgence from Taken or the still indomitable Paul Blart: Mall Cop or even another strong showing from Madea Goes to Jail.

Like the March Madness games many of you will probably be skipping the theatres to watch this weekend, this box-office battle could go down to the wire.