Since its debut last Wednesday, Transformers: Dark of the Moon has been utterly dominant at the box office, amassing a gigantic $204.4 million in its first eight days of release. This weekend, Horrible Bosses and Zookeeper will do their best to compete with Transformers, but the Michael Bay film is all but guaranteed another weekend atop the chart. That’s not to say that the newcomers won’t do well for themselves — they very well might — but in this battle between people, animals, and machines, I’ve got my money on the robots. Take a look at my box office predictions below.
1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon: $46 million
Last weekend (Friday to Sunday), Dark of the Moon earned a solid, though somewhat underwhelming, $97.6 million. Whenever you’re dealing with numbers that high, a hefty second weekend drop is in order. In 2009, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen dropped 61 percent in its second weekend, though we must keep in mind that that weekend’s grosses were substantially lowered by the 4th of July falling on a Saturday — the holiday is traditionally a poorly attended day at the movies. Because of this, and because audiences seem to genuinely be enjoying the movie (it received a solid “A” grade from Cinemascore), I’m expecting on a slightly smaller drop of 55 percent, which would give the action flick a robust $260 million by Sunday.
It’s been a great summer for R-rated comedies, with The Hangover Part II, Bridesmaids, and Bad Teacher all achieving box office success. Horrible Bosses, which stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis as embittered employees who decide to kill off their bosses (played by Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, and Kevin Spacey), looks to continue that trend. Bosses has strong reviews, an A-list cast, a great title, and a marketable premise — a pretty solid combination. Advertising has been strong, and audiences have exhibited a clear appetite for edgy humor at the box office lately. I see this opening similarly to 2010′s Dinner for Schmucks, which started off with $23.7 million on its way to a $73 million finish. With better reviews and its hugely recognizable cast, Bosses, which starts its run in 3,040 theaters, might improve on that figure and earn a not-at-all horrible $27 million.
3. Zookeeper: $21 million
Zookeeper may be earning some wretched reviews, but that shouldn’t stop the $80 million Kevin James film from opening fairly well at the box office. Whether you like them or not, family-friendly comedies that feature talking animals and buffoonish main characters sell well, and for every person rolling his eyes at a movie like Beverly Hills Chihuahua or Yogi Bear, there’s another person going out to the theater to see it. James found major success with 2009′s Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which opened with $31.8 million and grossed $146.3 million total, and last year’s Grown Ups ($162 million total) again proved that audiences enjoy the comedic actor.
Zookeeper, which will play in 3,482 theaters, is arriving soon after fellow animal movie Mr. Popper’s Penguins, which opened to an alright $18.4 million three weeks ago. With a simpler premise and animals that can actually talk, I think Zookeeper could improve on that film’s opening and earn $21 million this weekend.
4. Cars 2: $15 million
The tepidly reviewed Disney-Pixar sequel has decelerated much faster than most animated films at the box office. Last weekend, Cars 2 fell by a troubling 60 percent, partly due to weak word-of-mouth, and partly due to Transformers stealing away some of its 3-D screens. I don’t think the film will continue to skid off the road at that alarming rate, but another 40-45 percent drop (still quite large for an animated Pixar movie) down to $15 million would give Cars 2 about $150 million total at the end of the frame.
5. Larry Crowne: $8.3 million
It’s going to be a tight race for fifth place between Larry Crowne and Bad Teacher. On the one hand, the Cameron Diaz comedy has been performing substantially higher than the Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts collab since last weekend. On the other hand, Larry Crowne‘s target audience is far older than Bad Teacher‘s, and grown adults, who are actually busy with work during the week, don’t feel the need to rush out to the theater on opening weekend, which means that a small drop of about 35 percent is probably in store for Larry Crowne. I see the film earning about $8.3 million, with Bad Teacher finishing close behind.
Follow Grady on Twitter: @BoxOfficeJunkie