This is the last of the moderate-sized movie weekends for quite a while.
None of the four movies that premiere this weekend, The Five-Year Engagement, Pirates! Band of Misfits, The Raven, or Safe, will be a blockbuster.
Five-Year, an R-rated comedy from Universal, starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, looks like it will win the weekend with around $20 million — Boxoffice.com puts the number at $22 million.
That’s an entirely respectable number for a movie that cost $30 million to make, but it’s nowhere near what next weekend’s No. 1 movie will pull in. Or the next weekend’s. Or the next, the next, the next … you get the idea.
Next weekend, The Avengers kicks off what looks to be an impressive summer. Expect Disney’s movie, which stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson, to open to $150 million or more.
The next weekend brings Dark Shadows. And the big movies keep rolling: The Dictator opens May 16, and Battleship opens two days later. The next weekend, May 25,MIB3 opens. Then Snow White and the Huntsman, then Madagascar 3 and Prometheus.
This weekend’s releases seem tame by comparison.
The Five-Year Engagement is all but certain to knock last week’s box office champion,Think Like a Man, out of the top spot. The movie, which opens at 2,936 locations, is tracking strongest among men older than 25 — and women younger than 25.
Among those men, 20 percent say they have “definite” plans to see the movie, according to the research firm NRG. 16 percent of those younger than 25 say they have “definite” interest in it. Among younger women, 35 percent express “definite” interest in Five-Year, while 33 percent of older ones do.
Five-Year is about a couple that remains engaged for five years. Segel and Nick Stoller, the writing team behind Forgetting Sarah Marshall, wrote the comedy. Stoller directed.
Although new tracking from NRG shows the R-rated The Raven, from Relativity, doing especially well — 70 percent of all those surveyed reported some awareness of the movie, 34 percent said they have “definite” interest in seeing it, and 6 percent said it’s their “first choice” — conventional wisdom has it tying withPirates, with about $12 million.
That may seem odd because the PG-rated Pirates‘ tracking is significantly worse thanThe Raven‘s: Only 61 percent of those surveyed said they were familiar with Pirates. Of those, 22 percent expressed “definite” interest in seeing it and 2 percent said it was their first choice.
But, The Raven opens in only 2,203 locations, while Pirates opens in 3,358. And Pirates is the first animated, PG-rated family film to open since Universal’s hit The Lorax in March. It’s also the lone PG-rated movie opening in wide release this weekend. The other three are R.
Even with a $12 million opening — and Boxoffice.com says it’ll be about $1 million less than that — Relativity has something good with the thriller, which stars John Cusack as the writer Edgar Allen Poe. The company acquired The Raven for about $4 million from Intrepid Pictures.
Sony ought to do just fine withPirates, as well. The movie cost about $55 million to make — nothing to scoff at, but certainly reasonable. While it’s unlikely to be a monster hit domestically, it’s expected to do very well internationally. Sony’s last movie with Aardman Animations, Arthur Christmas, pulled in about $46 million domestically and $101 million internationally.
So Pirates looks like a good bet.
Finally, there’s Safe, an R-rated action film that Lionsgate is distributing for IM Global.
The movie, which cost about $27 million to make, stars Jason Statham as a one-time elite agent who comes to the rescue of a kidnapped young girl — and outwit the Russian mob, corrupt police, and the Triads who took the child.
Its tracking is weak: 48 percent of the moviegoers surveyed by NRG reported any awareness of Safe. Only 34 percent said they had “definite” interest in seeing it, and only 4 percent said it was their first choice.
The movie is looking to take in somewhere in the $8 million neighborhood at 2,266 locations.
After this weekend, expect bigger numbers. Much bigger numbers.
– Joshua L. Weinstein