As we move into the first four-day holiday weekend of the New Year, two new movies and one Oscar hopeful going into wide release will try to suck away audiences from James Cameron's mega-hit, Avatar. Sadly for them, they will all probably come up short.
The film that has the best shot at dethroning Avatar is the Hughes Brothers' post-Apocalyptic thriller, The Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington as a lone warrior who has assigned himself with the task of protecting the last known copy of the King James Bible in the world. While the critics have not been kind to Eli, I expect the film to be a modest hit for Warner Brothers. While it won't hit the top spot at the box-office, it should earn a respectable $35 million over the four-day weekend, which will be enough for a second place finish.
Of course, it goes without saying the top spot will once again belong to Avatar, which is on its way to becoming the highest grossing film of all-time. Even after racking up nearly $450 million domestically, the film is showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon and should push its total close to $500 million this weekend. Considering how well Avatar has been holding since its release, the four-day holiday weekend should help it to stay flat from last weekend and not only break the fifth weekend record, but also become the first film since 1999's The Sixth Sense to hold the top spot at the box-office for five consecutive weekends. It should earn between $43-45 million over four days.
Going into wide release this weekend is Peter Jackson's adaptation of Alice Sebold's bestseller The Lovely Bones, starring Saoirse Ronan as a young girl who, after being murdered by her neighbor, watches over her family from Heaven and guides her father, played by Mark Wahlberg, towards solving her murder. The picture, which was considered an Oscar frontrunner throughout much of the year, has already seen its Oscar hopes evaporate following mediocre reviews and across-the-board shut outs in the precursors. Its last hope is to at least become a box-office success, but even that might be a little too much to ask for. Still, it should earn somewhere between $17-20 million this weekend towards a final gross of around $50 million.
Also opening this weekend is the family comedy, The Spy Next Door, starring Jackie Chan as an international superspy who decides to quit the force and settle down with his hot next-door neighbor/girlfriend and enjoy family life. At first glance, this appears to be the sort of stupid movie that nobody in their right mind would actually pay good money to see in theaters, but for some reason these types of movies seem to do well over this particular weekend, as evidenced by the inexplicable success of family fare such as Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Snow Dogs, and Kangaroo Jack. Therefore, it's hard to tell whether The Spy Next Door will fly or fall flat on its face. I'm hoping for the latter, but I'm guessing that it will do okay this weekend. My prediction is that it will earn around $17 million this weekend towards a final gross of around $60 million.
Coming in fifth place will likely be Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes. The film, which currently stands at around $170 million, played well over the holidays but took a major hit last weekend, dropping nearly 55%. The fall this weekend should not be as drastic, and the four-day holiday weekend should help to push it towards the $200 million benchmark, although it is starting to look as if it will come up a little bit short. I predict around $12-13 million this weekend. However, it's not going to be easy for Sherlock to finish in the top 5, as Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel will be right on its heels. Last weekend saw a photo finish between the two films and I don't expect this weekend to be any different. Expect Alvin to earn a couple hundred thousand dollars less than Sherlock this weekend, pushing its total above $190 million.
Rounding out the top 10 this weekend will be Nancy Meyer's romantic comedy It's Complicated, the horror picture Daybreakers, 2009's sleeper hit The Blind Side, and Oscar hopeful Up in the Air.
Weekend predictions (January 15-18, 2010)
- Avatar - $45.7 million
- The Book of Eli - $35.9 million (NEW)
- The Lovely Bones- $18.7 million
- The Spy Next Door - $17.8 million (NEW)
- Sherlock Holmes - $12.7 million
- Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel - $12.5 million
- It's Complicated - $8.9 million
- Daybreakers - $8.7 million
- The Blind Side - $7.4 million
- Up in the Air - $6.5 million