Box Office Guru Preview: Wide Open Race For #1 Spot This Weekend

Five films compete for box office crown.

Five new films push their way into nationwide release on Friday hoping to challenge two-time champ The Rock making for what should be a free-for-all at the North American box office with many different studios having a realistic shot at claiming the number one spot. Among the top contenders are Sony's crime thriller We Own the Night, the Lionsgate comedy Why Did I Get Married?, and the George Clooney vehicle Michael Clayton which expands nationally after its scorching debut in limited release. Adding to the mix are the costume drama Elizabeth: The Golden Age and the baseball tale The Final Season. The box office race should be a tight one with as many as four films likely to reach the low double digit millions.

Oscar nominated actors Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix face off as brothers on different sides of the law in the new action thriller We Own the Night. The R-rated pic co-stars Robert Duvall and Eva Mendes and will target an adult audience with a slightly male skew. The former Marky Mark proved his box office pull last spring as the only major star in Shooter which bowed to $14.5M and a $5,176 average by targeting the same audience. Things will be more difficult this time because of the intense competition for mature audiences especially from Michael Clayton. But Night's biggest advantage over Michael is that it has two commercial stars instead of just one. The combo should lead to a slim edge at the cash registers.

Despite its awkward title, Night has been pushing itself as an action-packed thriller with faces people love to watch. Reviews have been mixed and with such a crowded field, it will be hard to stand out as a must-see option. Starpower should be the main factor here and showdowns between two solid actors are usually popular with ticket buyers. Opening in over 2,000 theaters, We Own the Night could debut to about $12M.


Phoenix and Wahlberg in We Own the Night

Taking on those boys with some machismo of his own, George Clooney heads into wide release with his legal drama Michael Clayton which Warner Bros. has drummed up plenty of awards buzz for. The R-rated pic bowed to a sizzling $47,994 average last weekend from its platform bow in the Clooney-friendly towns of New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. This weekend, the thriller will face the real test when it enters every major market across the 50 states. Thanks to his political outspokenness, the Academy Award winning actor has become a polarizing figure. He could easily win an election to become mayor of Hollywood, but in other parts of the country people would gladly pay theaters to not play his movies.

Clayton will test his drawing power since the film has no other box office anchors in it. Co-stars Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, and Sydney Pollack are well-respected, but they don't sell tickets. There is plenty of direct competition which is why the film got a head start a week early. Buzz from its red hot platform bow has spread helping to build interest. The crowd will consist of the same people that opened Syriana to $11.7M, The Black Dahlia to $10M, and Zodiac to $13.4M. Night will take away some males and Elizabeth will steal some females so a huge gross will be hard to find. But over the long-term the film could have legs. Expanding into 2,511 locations, Michael Clayton stands as the widest of the new offerings and may capture around $11M over the Friday-to-Sunday period.


Clooney as Clayton

Tyler Perry's latest relationship comedy Why Did I Get Married? finds trouble brewing when four married couples come together for an annual winter getaway. The writer/director's films have always tapped into his loyal fan base with African American women at the core. His 2005 smash Diary of a Mad Black Woman surprised the industry with its first-place debut with $21.9M and a $14,771 average and was followed a year later by Madea's Family Reunion which grew bigger with a $30M launch. Perry's last pic Daddy's Little Girls, also a February release, saw more modest numbers with a $11.2M opening as the filmmaker did not star in the pic.

Married does not have the promotional value of Black History Month or the help of Presidents Day which Girls had early this year. However, Perry's new film will not face any direct competitors for its target audience. Girls had to face the second weekend of Eddie Murphy's hit comedy Norbit which offered some audience overlap. Plus Married boasts more starpower with Perry back on screen and an added boost will come from Janet Jackson who is always a strong draw at the box office with the target audience every time she makes a rare appearance in a movie. The PG-13 film from Lionsgate is unlike anything else in the marketplace right now and with few buzzworthy films aimed at black moviegoers in recent months, it should successfully connect. Debuting in 2,011 theaters, Why Did I Get Married? might open with roughly $12M this weekend.


Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?

Comments

Mr. Kong

Sam jacobs

1. The Final season

2. Why did I get Married

3. We own the night

4. Elizabeth the Golden Age

5. Michael Clayton

Or something like that.

Oct 11 - 06:13 PM

LFMartins

Luis Martins

Michael Clayton - 18 million
We Own The Night - 9 million
Elizabeth - 7 million

Oct 11 - 06:56 PM

curtis

filmboy O'Bryant

Tyler perry new film wil take the top spot. his films always do well.

Oct 11 - 06:59 PM

Bloody Mathias

Mathias N/A

Micheal Clayton: $17 million
We Own the Night: $15 million
Elizabeth The Golden Age: $11 million
The Game Plan: $9.5 Million
Married: $8 Million
Heartbreak Kid: $7 million

Oct 11 - 07:29 PM

SlyDante

Kyle LeClair

Hey, what about Across The Universe? Doesn't that go into wide release this weekend as well?

Oct 11 - 09:16 PM

misterkyle1901

kyle T

Yes, yes it does. If only it was released in wide on the date it was advertised at, now it'll be lucky to make five mil. Hopefully it'll get to number three. Probabaly not. I'm not always this much of a downer, I swear.

Oct 11 - 11:37 PM

misterkyle1901

kyle T

Yes, yes it does. If only it was released in wide on the date it was advertised at, now it'll be lucky to make five mil. Hopefully it'll get to number three. Probabaly not. I'm not always this much of a downer, I swear.

Oct 11 - 11:37 PM

hewpot

Ballsack Enormous

universe will rape your mothers heart

Oct 12 - 12:05 AM

Darule17

Darryl Gagnon

1.We Own The Night

2.Why Did I Get Married

3.Elizabeth the Golden Age

4.The Final Season

5.Micheal Clayton

Oct 12 - 01:21 AM

dahluzz

joe shmo

what a crap-tacular weekend at the movies. i'm not seeing any of these, but maybe i'll see 3:10 to yuma again.

Oct 12 - 06:40 AM

aconline

Adam Collins

Agreed dahluzz. My wife is making me see Married. I think that it will top the box office. I just don't think that Final Season has anthing going for it. Elizabeth has zero going for it. Night is the only other one with any shot at #1. I would not be surprised if Married, Night, and Beth all earn about $8M and The Game Plan sits #1 again. My advice, go see 3:10. If you have seen it, see it again. I have seen it twice, hoping for the third this weekend, maybe.

Oct 12 - 01:20 PM

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