Weekend Box Office (June 8 - 10, 2012)
THIS WEEKEND A pair of 3D films with content that is worlds apart will hit North American multiplexes on Friday stopping a slump that has seen the box office fall behind year-ago levels over three consecutive frames. Fox unleashes its buzzworthy film Prometheus for adults while Paramount and DreamWorks go after kids with the animated sequel Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted. The top ten could break $150M for the first time in four frames as the new films spark a rebound in moviegoing.
Director Ridley Scott returns to sci-fi with the much-anticipated futuristic thriller Prometheus which looks to be a major player at the box office. The R-rated actioner about a group of humans who travel across space to a distant world in search of mankind's origins has generated tremendous excitement with sci-fi and action fans and arrives as a summer film that audiences are truly eager to see. Many will find this brand worth the extra money so 3D and IMAX screens will contribute a share higher of the gross than for most other recent offerings. Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, and Idris Elba star.
Male interest is sky high but the one area which may offer a slight problem will be the female appeal. As a scary and gory outer space flick, women may not respond limiting the film's appeal compared to many other non-sequel summer sci-fi pics like Inception which had a star like Leonardo DiCaprio who could draw in that gender. Plus the rating may be limiting for younger teens who might have interest. But Prometheus has had a great marketing push which has delivered raw fan excitement and reviews have been mostly positive too. Landing in 3,393 theaters, Prometheus might open with around $47M this weekend and could hold up well for a film of its genre in the weeks ahead.
Kids movies have been oddly absent with no really big titles since March. That puts Paramount in the perfect position to pounce on the box office with its latest 3D franchise toon Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted which reunites the all-star cast for another comic adventure. Openings for the first two installments were solid with $47.2M in 2005 and $63.1M in 2008. But the aging property will have a big test this weekend and try to prove that it is still relevant. Luckily the lack of competition will provide a major advantage since it is summer now and parents have had only scraps here and there to take their kids out to.
The 3D will add a new level of enjoyment, but also makes tickets more expensive which could be a turn-off to many. A year ago, another DreamWorks sequel came into the marketplace but audiences did not rush out in huge numbers. The 3D pic Kung Fu Panda 2 bowed to $47.7M over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the Memorial Day holiday frame dropping from the $60.2M of its predecessor. Madagascar 3 will open in over 4,000 locations and might collect about $45M this weekend.
Following a terrific start last weekend, Universal's fairy tale hit Snow White and the Huntsman looks to suffer a sizable decline since so much of the target audience showed up upfront and word-of-mouth does not seem strong enough to generate strong legs. Prometheus may offer some competition but White is skewing more female so it won't be too much of a direct threat. Madagascar will take many moms out of the picture, though. A 55% fall could result giving Charlize Theron two of the top three movies in the land. That would leave Snow White with roughly $25M in its second frame and a ten-day total of $102M.
Men in Black 3 and The Avengers will both face direct competition from Prometheus for action-loving men as well as from Madagascar for kids. But the pics are both PG-13 and brand-based so they can still do well with certain segments. Sony's latest alien comedy may fall 50% to about $14M with $135M to date while the Marvel juggernaut could slide by 45% to about $11M boosting the domestic haul to $572M.
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LAST YEAR J.J. Abrams swiped the number one spot with his period sci-fi drama Super 8 which bowed on top with $35.5M on its way to $127M domestically and $260M worldwide for Paramount. Recognizable brands followed filling up the top five with Fox's super hero tale X-Men: First Class making $24.1M in its second weekend and the comedy sequel The Hangover Part II collecting $17.7M for Warner Bros. in its third trip. Paramount's Kung Fu Panda 2 and Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides followed with $16.5M, and $10.9M, respectively.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: June 7, 2012 at 1:00PM ET
Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.