The Reject Report - Large

Not to be confused with Reject Report, The White, which is what happens after we do battle with the Balrog. Reject Report, The White is never NEVER wrong. But in our current form we have to take into account things like star power and demographics and mass appeal, the kinds of aspects that go into making a film financially successful.

This week sees three new movies wanting that success and one Oscar contender expanding to wide release. Liam Neeson fights wolves, Sam Worthington faces a ledge, and Katherine Heigl takes on…money, I guess. I’m not really sure. Only one of these movies can be the victor while the other two scrounge for scraps to make up $10-15m. Not even worth the effort really. It’s the Reject Report, and you shall not pass.

Okay, now you can pass. Go ahead.

BIG HITTERS

Did you know Liam Neeson was a bad ass? Of course you did. It’s the reason he’s been able to take such films as Unknown and Taken and turned them into huge successes. His newest, The Grey, opens in the same weekend spot as Taken, which debuted to $24.7m in 2009. Unknown opened last February with $21.8m. With The Grey he’s reteaming with The A-Team director, Joe Carnahan, but don’t expect Summer-level numbers here. The A-Team, by the way, dropped in its opening weekend with $25.6m, not exactly Summer-level numbers in June of 2010, either. With its man vs. nature premise, though, The Grey could easily fit in with those low-to-mid $20m figures. Look for The Grey to debut somewhere around $23m, and look for Liam Neeson kicking hell out of anyone who doesn’t go see it. That’s what he does, right?

Here’s a little primer for how bad-ass Liam Neeson really is. It’s basically Taken with all the annoying, talky parts chopped out. Enjoy:

Sure, Man on a Ledge has Sam Worthington, star of Avatar. That’s always a selling factor for your film, though Worthington isn’t having quite the career launch Leonardo DiCaprio had after Titanic. But Man on a Ledge, a relatively accessible movie for the casual, adult moviegoer, is opening against The Grey, which has a very strong edge with its own leading man. There will definitely be an audience, though, that is looking to watch a heist movie over a wolves-killing-rugged-men movie. The numbers won’t be in its favor, but you can expect Man on a Ledge to come in somewhere around $9-10m. Let’s just say blue aliens would have done wonders for it.

Katherine Heigl in a completely ambiguously titled rom-com. Life As We Know it opened with $14.5m in 2010. Eh, we’ll go a little South of that. $12m for One for the Money and the Heig-meister. You watch. That name is gonna stick.

FAMILIARITIES

The Descendants was one of the films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards this week. It doesn’t take a genius to realize Fox Searchlight had the films expansion to nearly 2000 screens this weekend planned for months. It’ll do them a huge favor, too, as the film has been pulling in a per theater average between $4000-5000 the last, few weeks. It can maintain a reasonable per theater average this weekend and walk off with around $6-7m to add to the $52m it’s already made. Look for that number to be closer to $7m than $6m with Clooney’s Best Actor nomination working its own magic.

Other films nominated for Best Picture that are still out in wide or semi-wide release are Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, War Horse, The Artist, and Hugo. The last two are expanding this weekend to just under 1000 screens each, but neither has much of a shot at breaking into the top 10. Expect similar expansions over the next couple of weeks. Moneyball, Midnight in Paris, The Help, and The Tree of Life are all available for home viewing, but they could all easily sneak back into a couple of hundred screens between now and Oscar night.

LITTLE OPENERS

Opening in limited release are Albert Nobbs opening in select cities, Alls Well That Ends Well opening in select cities, Declaration of War opening in select cities, and How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster? opening in select cities.

Here’s how the weekend is shaping up:

  1. The Grey – $23.2m NEW
  2. One For the Money – $12m NEW
  3. Underworld Awakening – $11.1m (-55.8%)
  4. Man On a Ledge – $9.6m NEW
  5. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – $8.4m (-15.2%)
  6. Red Tails – $8.4m (-54.6%)
  7. The Descendants – $6.8m Expanded to 1997 screens
  8. Contraband -$6.2m (-48%)
  9. Beauty and the Beast in 3D – $4.6m (-46.9%)
  10. Haywire – $4.6m (-44.4%)

Here we have the makings of a $94.9m weekend, a dip down from last weekend and the first weekend of 2012 to come in under $100m for the top 10. Naturally there’s some leeway here with The Grey potentially coming in lower or shocking everyone with a record-level January opening.

Heigl’s star power could be a surprise factor for One For the Money making all the money. The numbers here are fairly conservative given the potential of each of these films and anything goes. One thing is for certain, though. Man on a Ledge would be better for everyone if it had giant, blue aliens running around.

We’ll be back early next week to go over the weekend numbers.

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