A three-way battle for box office supremacy is brewing between Pacific Rim, Grown Ups 2, and Despicable Me 2 — all of which could potentially earn grosses in the mid-$40 million range this weekend and continue the film industry’s winning streak. The biggest question mark stomping into theaters is undoubtedly Warner Bros.’ ultra-expensive robot adventure Pacific Rim, whose earning potential has proven notoriously difficult to predict. But predict, I must! So without further ado, here’s how I think the box office might look this weekend:
1. Pacific Rim – $52 million
Look, people. I know that tracking for this $190 million Guillermo del Toro-directed tentpole has been woefully weak — down in the $25 million to $35 million range. I know Warner Bros. has repeatedly said it only expects $30 million for it this weekend. I know that everyone on the Internet has already declared Pacific Rim a bomb. But I just don’t believe it. Fandango reports that over 60 percent of daily sales are for Pacific Rim and that the film is outselling World War Z, which opened with $66.4 million, at the same point in its pre-release cycle. Of course, Pacific Rim‘s core demographic of male geeks is exactly the type that would purchase online tickets en masse — but even so, those sorts of pre-sales do not suggest an embarrassing opening.
Pacific Rim has surged on social media this week, which makes sense, since Warner Bros. saved most of its marketing budget for the release phase, and awareness is rising quickly. Plus, the film has earned strong reviews overall, which should lead to solid word-of-mouth. Though there are no bona fide movie stars in Pacific Rim‘s cast (the film has been advertised mostly with robots and monsters), the appeal of Del Toro may connect with film buffs. With 3-D and IMAX prices factored in — plus the groundswell of excitement for an original story — I think Pacific Rim could earn $52 million out of 3,275 theaters this weekend. I’m very aware that might be too high, but really, who knows where this film ends up?
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