Assuming The Hunger Games tops the box office on Thursday, the sci-fi thriller will have been No. 1 for 28 straight days — the longest daily streak since 1999′s The Sixth Sense held on to first place for 35 days. But Katniss’ reign at the box office will likely come to an end this weekend, as two new date movies — the relationship comedy Think Like a Man and the romance The Lucky One — will fight over the crown.
Also opening is Disney’s fourth-annual Earth Day nature documentary. This year’s offering is Chimpanzee, which should open to around $7 million — slightly better than last year’s African Cats, which started out with $6 million. Here are my predictions for the weekend:
1. Think Like a Man: $19 million
I’m predicting an upset: Think Like a Man should beat The Lucky One this weekend, even though the former is playing at 1,140 fewer locations than the latter. Fandango reported today that Think Like a Man is accounting for 42 percent of the website’s ticket sales — far more than any other current release. The PG-13 comedy, which cost around $13 million and is based on Steve Harvey’s best-selling advice book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, features an ensemble cast, including Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, and Chris Brown.
Reviews have been mixed, but there hasn’t been a movie specifically targeting an African American audience since February’s Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds, so expect a healthy turnout. Also, Think Like a Man was produced by William Packer, whose last four films — Takers, Obsessed, This Christmas, and Stomp the Yard — opened to an average of $22.2 million. So a debut of more than $20 million isn’t out of the question.
2. The Lucky One: $16.5 million
Starring Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, and Zac Efron’s biceps, The Lucky One is based on Nicholas Sparks’ 2008 romance novel of the same name. Sparks is of course the novelist behind such box office successes as The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, Dear John, The Last Song, and A Walk to Remember. Efron hasn’t demonstrated as much star power of late as Channing Tatum, whose Dear John premiered to $30.5 million in 2010. And Efron’s last leading live-action role was 2010′s Charlie St. Cloud, which floundered to a $12.4 million opening. Also, reviews for The Lucky One have been discouraging.
But Sparks is a trusted date-movie brand, and at 3,155 theaters, the $25 million film is receiving the widest release yet for a based-on-Sparks production. A debut of $20 million may be out of reach, but a decent bow in the mid-teens is not.
3. The Hunger Games: $13 million
The sci-fi thriller, which has so far grossed $341 million, dropped only 36 percent last week — its fourth week in release. A decline closer to 40 percent should be expected this weekend, since The Lucky One will probably steal away some of The Hunger Games‘ young female fan base.
4. The Three Stooges: $10 million
The PG-rated Farrelly brothers comedy opened to a better-than-expected $17 million, and with the only new family film being the nature doc Chimpanzee, a decline of about 40 percent would be reasonable.
5. The Cabin in the Woods: $7.5 million
This is a tricky one. The R-rated horror flick, directed by Drew Goddard and co-written by Joss Whedon, earned a harsh “C” rating from CinemaScore audiences. That would normally indicate poor staying power, especially since the horror genre isn’t known for its box office legs to begin with. On the other hand, The Cabin in the Woods scored strong reviews and is sporting an 8.2 rating at IMDb.
This is a picture that appeals to film geeks (I dug the movie). But will word of mouth among Whedonites and horror aficionados mitigate the scorn of other moviegoers? To an extent, yes, resulting in a decline of around 50 percent — a mediocre showing, but not awful.