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Box Office Prediction: ‘American Reunion’ Will Dethrone ‘Hunger Games’ For a Raunchy Easter Win

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Happy Easter, everybody. It’s the time of year for giving, for hollow, chocolate bunnies, and for Stifler to make some crude remark just before ingesting something disgusting. That’s right, it’s time for a reunion with the American Pie crew, and, like it or not, the movie is going to come out on top.

It doesn’t matter that Katniss and her Hunger Games are still shooting strong. Never mind that the 2nd biggest movie of all time is getting a 3D update. All that’s moot when it comes to the financial strength behind dick jokes and bare breasts. So grab a chair, and heat up that warm, apple cobbler, check out this week’s Reject Report, and never let go.

Not like Rose, though. She totally let go.

Breakdown

American Reunion

  • Despite the nine-year gap between American Wedding and American Reunion, the franchise has been kept alive on DVD shelves the world over. The four direct-to-DVD spinoffs of the highly successful franchise have kept the name in rotation, so it isn’t as if audiences are completely lost as to what American Reunion is. Nine years isn’t even long enough a whole new batch of teenagers to get into the fray, but Universal doesn’t want their money, anyway. The studio is looking at moviegoers who were in high school when the first film came out, the audience members who are getting ready for their own 13-year reunion, as if that ever happens.
  • They’ll get that audience, too. Fans are fans, and time alone won’t turn them off to this series. It’s difficult to imagine a person who has seen and enjoyed all three American Pie films – the theatrical releases, that is – and has no interest in seeing this new one. Unless they’re just tired of the jokes.
  • That is the biggest factor here, the idea that American Reunion looks to be just a rehashing of old jokes and little new. Combine that with the wasteland that was those four films after American Wedding – You thought we’d forgotten about them, didn’t you? – and the uproar for new American Pie adventures isn’t as strong now as it was a decade ago.
  • What’s left over will still give American Reunion a strong opening this weekend. It won’t be on par with the $45.1m American Pie 2 made its opening weekend or even the $33.3m American Wedding debuted with, but somewhere in the mid-to-high $20m range is most likely. We’re also looking at the first, theatrical, American Pie film not to be released in a Summer month. As strong as April is becoming, it isn’t on the level of the biggest months of the year, and big or small, that’s a factor.

Weekend projection: $27.7m (#1 on the chart)

Titanic 3D

  • While we’re sitting around waiting for Avatar 2, a film I’m sure people will be calling “the end of James Cameron’s career” – They’re never right about that, you know? – we have this 3D re-release of Titanic to keep us company. The film pulled in a massive $605.4m over the course of 41 weekends back in 1997 and 1998, the highest grossing film of all time up to that point. It’s a movie that changed lives, made A-list stars – Sorry, Billy Zane, sadly we’re not talking about you right now – and proved to the world that Cameron was a force in the industry. How can it not make another billion and change?
  • The state of 3D re-releases isn’t what many had hoped they would be. The Lion King‘s $30.1m opening weekend back in September was something of a fluke as evidenced by Beauty and the Beast‘s $17.7m opening weekend and The Phantom Menace‘s $22.4m debut. That was a Star Wars movie, and it opened in fourth place. Just because a huge movie gets a 3D re-release doesn’t make it a second lightning strike in a bottle. Far from it.
  • Titanic 3D opened on Wednesday and was able to scrap together $4.3m in that single day. Therefore, it’s easy to piece together that it will be able to rake in around $7m each day of this Easter weekend, maybe a little more on Sunday, because we all know drowning in freezing water goes perfect with Honey Baked Ham. Add that up, and you’ve got a $21m weekend, not abysmal but a fair better offering than George Lucas. Yeah, you heard that. James Cameron > George Lucas.

Weekend projection: $21.4m (#3 on the chart)

The Chart

  1. American Reunion – $27.7m NEW
  2. The Hunger Games – $24.2m (-58.5%)
  3. Titanic 3-D – $21.4m NEW on top of the $605.4m it made in 1997/1998
  4. Wrath of the Titans – $16.3m (-51%)
  5. Mirror Mirror -$10m (-44.2%)
  6. 21 Jump Street – $10.3m (-40%)
  7. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax – $4.2m (-44.4%)
  8. John Carter – $.9m (-54.6%)
  9. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – $.8m (-28.9%)
  10. Act of Valor – $.5m (-48.9%)

The Analysis

After the massive peak The Hunger Games gave us, the box office has settled down to a nice, low-to-mid $100m week in and week out. The $116.3m this weekend is eyeballing is nothing to roll your eyes at, nor is it the continued onslaught of ginormous mounds of cash Hollywood was hoping for, either. It’s back to the norm here in these last, remaining weeks before May hits. After that, it’s back to champagne wishes and caviar dreams. If you don’t know that reference, don’t tell me. I feel old enough already.

That $.8m and $.5m the #9 and #10 films are respectively bringing in is interesting, though. Generally even movies ranked that low still pull in upwards of $1m, and they often surpass that. The fact that a movie expected to make half a million dollars this weekend is still going to rank shows how quickly these box office returns are dropping, a sign that longevity isn’t in the cards for a majority of these films. That shows moviegoers are being more careful, seeing the movies they want to see opening weekend, and not heading out to the movies just to watch something, anything that looks decent and starts soon.

The growing VOD market is a big factor in that, as is the expanding catalog Netflix Instant and Hulu have to offer. While Hollywood continues its attempt at pushing the start of the Summer movie season forward, we could be getting to a point where movies are only out for a few weeks, get pulled after making its quick buck, and heading straight for that at-home market. It’s nothing we’ll see in the near future, but it’s definitely a business model that could happen in our lifetimes. More yours than mine. I’m old, remember?

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

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Jeremy's been writing about movies for a good, 15 years, starting with the film review column of his high school newspaper. He stands proud as the first person in his high school to have seen (and recommend) Pulp Fiction. Jeremy went on to get a B.A. in Cinema and Photography with a minor in journalism. His experience and knowledge of film is aided by the list of 6600 films he has seen in his life (so far). Jeremy's belief is that there are no bad films, just unrealized possibilities. Except Batman and Robin. That shit was awful.

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