Hollywood is presenting a cornucopia of choices this weekend, as four new movies are heading into theaters. Each film is targeting a different audience segment: horror buffs (Final Destination 5), adult women (The Help), fans of raunchy comedies (30 Minutes or Less), and, well, Gleeks (Glee: The 3D Concert Movie). But despite all of these choices, last week’s champion, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, will most likely come out on top once again. Here are my predictions for the weekend:
1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes: $27 million
Audiences are going bananas for this well-reviewed action film, which opened to a better-than-expected $54.8 million last week. With an “A-” rating from CinemaScore graders and a strong 8.0 score on IMDb, Apes should benefit from positive word of mouth this weekend. It’s typical for a summer action movie to drop 55 to 60 percent its second weekend, but Apes should hold up a bit better than that. Instead, look for a drop of around 50 percent.
2. Final Destination 5: $23 million
Each of the Final Destination movies has debuted stronger than the entry before it, with openings of $10 million, $16 million, $19.2 million, and $27.4 million. But I think that trend will stop with Final Destination 5. For one thing, all of the prior Final Destination movies were released three years apart from one another, but this new R-rated movie arrives just two years after 2009′s The Final Destination. (So much for The Final Destination being the final Final Destination.) Second, The Final Destination was the horror series’ first 3-D offering, and it was released during the apex of the 3-D craze. Since then, 3-D has lost some of its sheen — at least domestically. Those who do see Final Destination 5 will probably do so in 3-D, but the third dimension no longer has that new-car smell that likely attracted some folks to The Final Destination in the first place.
3. The Help: $20 million
This PG-13 drama, based on Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel, opened on Wednesday to a solid $5.5 million. Most impressively, the $25 million picture scored a rare “A+” rating from CinemaScore audiences, which means word of mouth should be excellent. And Fandango is reporting that, as of this writing, The Help is accounting for 52 percent of its online ticket sales. The movie should skew toward adult women: According to CinemaScore, 83 percent of the film’s Wednesday audience was female and 78 percent was at least 25 years old. Female moviegoers have previously made hits out of such August releases as Eat Pray Love, Julie & Julia, and The Time Traveler’s Wife. With its generally favorable reviews, The Help could very well join those films and become a late-summer success.
4. 30 Minutes or Less: $16 million
The umpteenth R-rated comedy this summer, this film stars Danny McBride and Nick Swardson as two criminals who, in order to raise enough money to hire an assassin, kidnap a pizza delivery guy (Jesse Eisenberg) and force him to rob a bank — while wearing a bomb on his chest. Aziz Ansari costars as the pizza guy’s best buddy. This is a hard one to call, as I’m not sure whether young adults will be intrigued by the movie’s dark, kooky plot, or simply find it off-putting. The film re-teams Eisenberg with Zombieland director Ruben Fleisher, and that horror comedy opened to a surprising $24.7 million two years ago. But reviews for 30 Minutes or Less have been mediocre, and small-time crooks robbing a bank doesn’t feature quite the same epic pizazz as a few lone survivors shotgunning a mob of flesh-eating zombies.
5. The Smurfs: $13 million
The PG comedy fell only 42 percent last week. With no new moviegoing options for small kids, The Smurfs should hold up even a bit better this weekend. Bow down to your blue overlords.
6. Glee: The 3D Concert Movie: $9 million
Another wild card here, as it’s difficult to know whether the Gleeks are passionate enough to follow the New Directions to the big screen (and pay those exorbitant 3-D prices). This $8.5 million concert pic, which is playing at 2,040 3-D locations, shouldn’t come close to matching the debuts of Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour ($31.1 million) or Justin Bieber: Never Say Never ($29.5 million), and I’m thinking it won’t even surpass the opening of Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience ($12.5 million). I simply don’t believe the Gleeks possess the same preteen fervor that fueled those other movies, but I could be proven wrong.