It’s a three-horse race for the number one spot at the box office this weekend.
Two new wide releases, videogame/horror title Silent Hill: Revelation 3D and heady drama Cloud Atlas, are both hoping for robust debuts, yet Argo, the three week old Ben Affleck drama, may have the best chance at winning the slow October frame. Here’s how the weekend might play out:
1. Argo – $13.5 million
The Ben Affleck-directed Oscar contender fell only 15 percent in its second weekend — a sure sign that the film, which earned an “A+” CinemaScore grade, is benefiting from terrific word-of-mouth. Though Paranormal Activity 4 opened ahead of Argo last weekend, the film took over the top spot on Wednesday, and it may stay there this weekend. Another 15-20 percent drop would give Argo about $13.5 million for the weekend and $62 million total.
2. Silent Hill: Revelation 3D – $12 million
Yes that’s a real movie title (though it feels so shamelessly Hollywood-ized, right?), and yes, it could even be the number one movie at the box office this weekend. The original Silent Hill, a video game adaptation, opened to $20.2 million in 2006 and ultimately earned $47 million total. After six years, most audiences likely don’t remember the original Silent Hill, and the $20 million Open Road sequel is expected to debut with substantially less. Yet the enduring presence of the Resident Evil franchise has certainly proved that videogame/horror fans can display surprising loyalty at the box office. Silent Hill: Revelation 3D‘s proximity to Halloween (and Paranormal Activity 4‘s quickly plummeting box office prospects) should give it a slight boost, as will 3D ticket prices. Out in 2,933 theaters, the film could earn about $12 million.
3. Cloud Atlas – $11 million
Warner Bros. will distribute the $100 million epic novel adaptation (financed by a myriad of international investors — Warner Bros. acquired domestic distribution rights), which was directed by the Wachowski siblings and Tom Twyker. The complex parallel storylines within the film have made marketing it a challenge, and reviews could be too mixed — though the positive ones are quite positive — to mobilize older theater goers. Furthermore, Tom Hanks and Halle Berry are no longer real box office draws (and I’d argue that Halle Berry has never really been one). Still, curious movie buffs and hardcore fans of the novel will want to check out the ambitious piece of film making, and Cloud Atlas, which is starting on a surprisingly small 2,008 screens, may take in a rather weak $11 million.
4. Hotel Transylvania – $10 million
Without any new competition, the monster hit should drop by a slim 25 percent on its last weekend before Halloween, which would give it over $130 million domestically — making it the highest grossing film Sony Pictures Animation has ever produced.
5. Paranormal Activity 4 – $9 million
The found footage sequel already had a relatively disappointing $29 million opening weekend, and from here, it will fall hard. A 65-70 percent drop will give PA4 about $9 million over the weekend and $43 million total — not bad at all considering it cost Paramount only $5 million.
Two other films are entering the marketplace in wide release. Paramount’s Fun Size, the rather edgy $14 million Nickelodeon film starring Victoria Justice, is expected to earn about $8 million from 3,014 theaters over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Fox’s $20 million surfing drama Chasing Mavericks, meanwhile, will likely gross about $4 million from 2,008 venues.
Stay tuned to EW all weekend long for full box office coverage, and follow me on Twitter for analysis and up-to-the-minute box office updates!