Week Three of Predicting Top Draws at the Box Office proves I Need More Practice: Analysis for Weekend of Jan 20th

This is only my third week predicting box office results and what I’ve learned so far is that I’m not very good at being accurate. I love the exercise – looking for comparable films of size and shape, finding out how many theaters the film is opening to, trying to determine what will remain a force from previous weeks…

The actual process seems quite cut and dry on the surface: find out how many theaters and multiply that by an estimated number of dollars earned per theater. But if your estimates are off of the reality of who pays to see what, the number of theaters doesn’t help much. 

Sure, you can look at Fandango and see how many tickets have been pre-sold or check Rotten Tomatoes to see who is dying to see what, but if your wrong about the math, you’re wrong about the math. 

I think I may be over thinking it all just a bit too much and therefore hamstringing my picks long before they’re out of the gate. 

Take, for example, my selections and predictions for this past weekend, the weekend starting Friday January 20th:

My predictions:

  1. Red tails =43.5m (2512 theaters x 17500 per screen w/main comp is Captain America.) Some serious anticipation for this first major effort post Star Wars.
  2. Haywire = 24m (2439 x 9970 per w/ main comp as Salt) people left wanting more after Contraband
  3. Underworld awakening = 19.5 m (3078 theatres x  6284 per screen w main comp as Sucker Punch)

The Actuals:

1 N Underworld Awakening SGem $25,306,725 3,078 $8,222 $25,306,725 $70 1
2 N Red Tails Fox $18,782,154 2,512 $7,477 $18,782,154 $58 1
3 1 Contraband Uni. $12,039,605 -50.6% 2,870 +7 $4,195 $45,937,525 $25 2
4 36 Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close WB $10,045,332 +10,935.3% 2,630 +2,624 $3,820 $10,737,239 5
5 2 Beauty and the Beast (3D) BV $8,779,676 -50.5% 2,625 $3,345 $33,588,056 2
6 N Haywire Rela. $8,425,370 2,439 $3,454 $8,425,370 $23 1

The analysis:

Clearly the demographic for Underworld was much broader than I anticipated. The previous weeks’ openings could have played into that. Aside from Contraband (which is still going strong even into this coming weekend) and The Devil Inside, most of the films were targeted to a wider, older, family oriented, population (War Horse, Joyful Noise, Beauty and the Beast, etc) and so there was a greater vacuum of content for a crowd looking for – shall we say – livelier entertainment – who had already seen Contraband.  

My estimates for Red Tails were based on the comp, yes (this film I felt was difficult to find a comparable release) but also on twitter traffic from some of the African American cast involved and the degree to which it was shared. Nothing to the level of a top trending topic but sentiment was good.  

Haywire did very well among critics in early review and it was my opinion that it would steal some of Contrabands thunder. Such was not the case. 

I did not pick Exteremely Loud and Incredibly close to do well if only because of the lack of buzz surrounding it. My assumption is that the older demographic who I assumed would have gone in for Red Tails must have gone to see Tom Hanks instead.  Now, if Tom Hanks had been in Red Tails instead of Bryan Cranston, I think the states would have turned out much differently.

Stay tuned for next weeks predictions before Midnight Thursday night…



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