A True Horse Race at the Box Office This Weekend!

078841H1.jpgA real horse race at the box office this weekend as three new wide releases join the crop of films currently in the marketplace.  Consistent audience interest in many of the current offerings has made this a very competitive marketplace.  Of course last weekend’s chart-topper, Sony’s “The Social Network” has been performing well mid-week with grosses in the $2 million range as heavy interest in the film continues and thus assures a solid second weekend performance for the possible Oscar contender.  Continued positive word-of-mouth about the film itself and the many noteworthy performances by the ensemble cast will keep this one in the top ten mix for many weeks to come.  The film will be closing in on the $45 million mark by the end of the weekend.

As for the newcomers, both Warner Bros.’ romantic comedy “Life as We Know It” and Disney’s PG-rated inspirational horse racing saga “Secretariat” are poised for solid openings with two very disparate audiences that could put these two in a virtual photo finish by the end of the weekend.  Women are the obvious target for “Life” given the Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel pairing and the themes of romance, relationships and child rearing, while “Secretariat” under the Disney label is boasting a both a solid cast and a faith-based storyline and is therefore sure to draw families interested in a wholesome and inspiring story appropriate for all ages.

Box Office spotlight on horse racing movies: “Seabiscuit” from Universal opened with $20.8 million over the weekend of July 25, 2003, came in fifth in the weekend derby and went on to earn an impressive $120.2 million.  The film starred Tobey Maguire and Jeff Bridges.

In 2005 “Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story” debuted on October 21 in second place with a weekend gross of $9.2 million and a final domestic total of $32.7 million.  The film starred Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning.

Also opening is Universal’s serial killer horror entry “My Soul to Take” directed by the iconic Wes Craven who will deliver the scares in 3D and give audiences a “jump out of your seat” experience.  Horror films have had a tough go at the box office lately, but hopefully the 3D element and the Wes Craven factor will give this one the edge.

All of this competition will make things interesting for not only Warner Bros.’ “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole,” but also for the studio’s acclaimed “The Town” which is the top performing of the fall season thus far with close to $70 million in domestic revenue.  The 3D and IMAX enhanced “Guardians” saw a mere 32% drop last weekend and has benefited from being virtually the only animated family film in the multi-plex and thus the owls have generated $30 million plus in total revenue to date.  Both films will likely wind up in the box office top five with continued interest from audiences.

Marking what would have been John Lennon‘s 70th birthday on Saturday, October 9, Weinstein Co.’s “Nowhere Boy” will celebrate the occasion with the release of this dramatization of Lennon’s early life and career.  Current re-releases of the entire Lennon solo catalogue and revitalized interest in the influential musician and activist, should give “Nowhere Boy” a solid specialized debut this weekend in four theatres (2 NY/2 LA).

Year-to-date revenues are at around $8.2 billion heading into the weekend and are running 3.71% ahead of last year while attendance is still lagging by nearly 2%.