The Reject Report - Large

Four new movies are hitting theaters this weekend, all of them fixed with their own pros and cons. In one corner, we have Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer Aniston, and Tyler Perry. In the other corner, we have the Navy SEALs. It’s not a fair fight no matter how you look at it.

All four spark with different demographics, as well, making for an interesting melting pot of genres, varying star power, and even a little bit of brand loyalty. This weekend comes down to which of these films had the best resonance with its marketing, and one of these films clearly has the edge over the others. Yes, guns and live ammunition help.

The Breakdown:

Act of Valor

  • Serious, R-rated, war dramas open well. They always have. They always will. If told through an interesting and new way, they could end up becoming box office smashes. Act of Valor, told with actual Navy SEALs, definitely fits into that mold.
  • Safe House couldn’t have sated everyone’s thirst for hard-hitting action. The Grey certainly didn’t. Ghost Rider didn’t even try.
  • Your war films do tend to work better with A-list stars leading the platoon. That’s why Act of Valor won’t reach the opening numbers of films like Black Hawk Down and Jarhead. Star power isn’t everything, but, without it, a film won’t reach the height of its potential.
  • Relativity is opening Act of Valor on nearly 3000 screens. The last time the studio opened a film on 3000 screens or more, it was The Immortals, which opened with $32.2m last November.
  • Relativity has been marketing the film wisely, as well. The theatrical trailer leaves a charge with the audience, and ads over Ultimate Fighting Championship guaranteed a swarm of ticket sales. Pointing out the lack of Hollywood star power is a risky move, but it’s not going to hurt Act of Valor from coming in #1.
Weekend projection: $21.8m (#1 on the chart)

Gone

  • Gone is being used as a vehicle for Amanda Seyfried. She’s not at that level where she can headline films to financial success. Red Riding Hood had the Twilight fans behind it, and it didn’t even make back its cost. Seyfried is the main driving force behind this film, and she isn’t going to do it many favors.
  • The film is reminiscent of Abduction, the Taylor Lautner vehicle. That opened with $10.9m. Seyfried is not Taylor Lautner when it comes to stardom. Hate to say it.
  • Summit Entertainment is suffering with everything not called Twilight. The lack of promotional power behind Gone proves just how much they’re depending on it.
Weekend projection: $7.2m (#9 on the chart)

Good Deeds

  • Tyler Perry is a brand.
  • Tyler Perry is a successful brand.
  • Tyler Perry is a very successful brand.
  • Madea isn’t in this one.
Weekend projection: $18m (#3 on the chart)

Wanderlust

  • Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd aren’t knocking around competition by themselves. Their joined efforts will help Wanderlust more than anything. Rudd returning with Role Models director David Wain will win some people over, but not a lot.
  • The R-rated/Judd Apatow connection is a serious brand that can’t be ignored. His producing efforts have made some Walk Hards ($4.1m opening weekend) and Drillbit Taylors ($10.3m opening weekend). More often than not, though, he’s producing movies like Superbad ($33m opening weekend).
  • Universal doesn’t have faith in the film. It’s opening on fewer than 2000 screens. The last time Jennifer Aniston opened on less than 2000 screens, it was Love Happens, and it debuted with $8m. Not sure why Universal decided to open Wanderlust on so few screens when they opened Role Models on almost 3000. That film made $19.1m in its opening weekend. The studio apparently saw something in Wanderlust that made them think the Wain/Rudd combination wouldn’t repeat that success.
Weekend projection: $12.1m (#6 on the chart)

The Chart:

  1. Act of Valor – $21.8m NEW
  2. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – $19.9m (-22.8%)
  3. Good Deeds – $18m NEW
  4. Safe House – $17.7m (-35.4%)
  5. The Vow – $17.2m (-35.2%)
  6. Wanderlust – $12.1m NEW
  7. This Means War – $10.2m (-49%)
  8. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance – $7.6m (-69.9%)
  9. Gone – $7.2m NEW
  10. Chronicle – $6.2m (-31.1%)

Total box office for the Top 10: $137.9m

The Analysis:

Act of Valor just has the strongest edge in that its studio is whole-heartedly behind it. Relativity clearly believes in this project. At least they’re selling it like they do. The same can’t be said for any of the other three films. Relativity has a film without stars and without a notable director, yet they’re is releasing it on nearly 3000 screens. That’s a huge gamble, and it’s one that’s going to pay off tremendously.

As far as the total weekend goes, that $137.9m is up from President’s Day Weekend if you only count Friday-Sunday. Monday counts towards last weekend’s total, though, so we’re essentially on a decline here for the second weekend in a row. It will, however, see a $45.8m increase from the same weekend last year. At that time, Hall Pass and Gnomeo and Juliet were making lazy efforts and still coming out on top. At least Relativity isn’t lazy in the way they’re selling Act of Valor.

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

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