Box Office Preview: Vin Diesel's Too Fast for Hannah Montana


UPDATE: Hannah Montana beat everyone’s expectations with her $17.4 million Friday. Read our updated weekend forecast here.

EARLIER: With three big new releases (Hannah Montana: The Movie, Observe and Report and Dragonball: Evolution) opening this weekend and strong holdover business from Fast & Furious and Monsters vs. Aliens, the overall box office take for the next three days should almost certainly set a new Easter weekend record. But it’s unlikely that any one movie will break the record for biggest Easter opening, which belongs to 2006’s Scary Movie 4 and its $40.2 million gross.

Nonetheless, most box-office experts think Fast & Furious will cross the finish line first again this weekend. With its huge $71 million opening, even if it drops off 55-58% as most people are predicting, it should finish in the low $30 million range, bringing the movie’s 10-day total to $120 million, almost double the domestic gross of the last film in Universal’s street-racing franchise, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Time for Universal to book Vin Diesel and Paul Walker for that rumoured fifth film.

Even though Miley Cyrus is a full-blown brand, Hannah Montana: The Movie isn’t expected to be as big of a hit as her 3-D concert film last year. That one came out on the heels of a sold-out tour, was promoted as a “one week only” event (even though its theatrical run was later extended), came out in a limited number of theatres and had those pricey 3-D tickets working in its favour. So, it’s unlikely that Hannah Montana: The Movie will make $31.1 million this weekend, but Miley’s core audience of teenage girls should produce a $25 million$28 million gross over the three-day frame.

Our experts (Entertainment Weekly, Slashfilm and Box Office Guru) predict Monsters vs. Aliens will grab the No. 3 spot with $20 million-$21 million. Hannah Montana should lure some older girls away from DreamWorks Animation’s 3-D spectacular, but with the holiday weekend and many people having Good Friday off, more families might go to the multiplex this weekend than they have in the past. That $20 million figure should put MvA‘s total domestic gross at roughly $140 million, keeping it as the third-highest-grossing film of 2009, a very good sign for 3-D movies and the studios making them.

Despite Paul Blart: Mall Cop‘s $143 million domestic success, Warner Bros. mall-cop comedy Observe and Report is much darker and raunchier—and has the “R” rating to prove it. So, most people are predicting a weekend total in the high teens, consistent with how most Apatow-esque movies, like I Love You, Man, have been opening, and good enough for fourth place.

We’ll see whether the other big movie opening this weekend, Fox’s Dragonball: Evolution, manages to rack up enough receipts to make it into the top 5. It’s already made more than $20 million overseas, but it’s opening here on a crowded weekend and doesn’t seem to have much buzz behind it. The PG-rated sci-fi actioner is hoping to appeal to the narrow demographic of boys who are too old for/not interested in Monsters vs. Aliens but are too young for Fast & Furious. Once again, with most people having Good Friday off, Dragonball should do well opening day, just because of high theatre traffic, but our prognosticators are predicting a $6 million11 million finish.

Nevertheless, with so many big draws, the overall weekend box office take could be enormous. Slashfilm is predicting that the top 10 movies will collectively make $126.4 million, which would be the highest-grossing Easter weekend Top 10 ever, easily beating the Panic Room-led Easter weekend Top 10 of 2002, which racked up $108.8 million.

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