Weekend Preview (10.2.09)

If you’ve been following me closely I’m 3-for-3 in Weekend Domestic Box Office projections since I started them the first weekend in September. Although I didn’t post last week since I was out of town, I did offer my No. 1 spot prediction of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs taking two weeks in a row and of course I nailed it.

My predictions after the No. 1 spot were a little weak two weeks ago. For all intents and purposes, Jennifer’s Body flopped and The Informant! took second instead. Inglourious Basterds didn’t stay Top 5 but I Can Do Bad All By Myself did.

Zombieland – Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3D – The Invention of Lying – Whip It

Things will get a little harder with this first weekend in October, but I think I’ve got it figured out. A lot of films get wide or expanded releases this weekend and there are many genres plus some solid returners, but the key this week might be number of theaters.

Returning from last week are Top 5 finishers Surrogates and Fame along with “Meatballs,” “Informant” and “I Can Do Bad.”

However, early reviews look promising for most of the wide releases this week and there’s the wildcard of the Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3D re-release and a large expasion of Michael Moore documentary Capitalism: A Love Story.

My endorsement: Although it’s hard to not endorse seeing Toy Story in 3D, you do have the option of seeing a lovely 2D version right from your couch. With that in mind, I’m picking the only movie here from my Fall Preview Top 10: Zombieland. I think the appealing cast of Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone (on of my favorite young actresses) is enough to hold up what could be considered a tired zombie comedy genre. I think the entertainment value of this film will at the least be very high.

Red Flag: Honestly, there’s nothing here that I think will be that bad. Early reviews are saying good things about Whip It and The Invention of Lying and it’s got to be written law somewhere that you can’t red flag Toy Story. Then again, I have doubts about the 3D revival of Toy Story/Toy Story 2. When a film isn’t created with being 3D in mind, it just doesn’t end up being that much better in 3D. Considering it’s a double feature too, that’s a long time to sit and watch 3D when the movie’s just as good coming from your flat screen.

B.O. Prediction: Although I think the forecast will still call for plenty of “Meatballs,“ I don’t think the film will be able to keep No. 1 pace, especially with competition from Toy Story plus it’s already in its third week. That said, the time is ripe for the teenagers/young adults to win. If the big reviews come out positive tomorrow, I feel pretty confident that Zombieland will sneak into No. 1. It would be unwise to underestimate the box office pull of zombies and comedy and Zombieland marks the first mainstream comedy out in awhile. Unlike Jennifer’s Body, this movie is selling itself as humor first and the reviews will likely treat it fairly as a result. It also helps that it’s getting the biggest release of all the films up there.

“Meatballs” I think should only slide to No. 2 or 3, depending on how the “Toy Story 3D” experiment does. The added price of 3D ticket sales could give it a boost, but it’s more likely to finish third.

As for the final spots, it’s hard to say, especially with Whip It and “Lying” only hitting about 1,700 theaters (big releases are over 3,000). I think Surrogates will lose a lot of blood, but it will stick there and to take a stab, I will give “Lying” a chance. Early reviews have been sterling and it’s the only real date comedy in the bunch. I still have my doubts about the financial power of Ricky Gervais in the United States, but his impressive surrounding cast including Tina Fey, Jennifer Garner and Rob Lowe, should work him in there and if really successful, could leapfrog him over Surrogates.


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