Audiences will ‘Just Go With It’ this weekend

087050H1.jpgSince 1995’s Billy Madison, Adam Sandler has been as consistent a box office draw as any star working today and the stats prove the point: 11 films that have earned over $100 million at the domestic box office, 10 films that opened at number one, five films that opened at number two and a lifetime domestic theatrical revenue total of over $2 billion.  His relevance to audiences is clearly demonstrated by last year’s Grown Ups which became Sandler’s second highest grossing film domestically and the 14th highest grossing film of 2010 with $162 million.  12 of his films have been the result of a very fruitful collaboration with Sony Pictures and Just Go With It with an expected $30 million debut will continue this success.  Beyond the traditional weekend, the film will also see a solid Monday gross with Valentine couples making a date with Adam Sandler and co-star Jennifer Aniston for some romantic comedy fun.

Three other wide release openers will round out the top four slots with a rare G-rated 3-D match up of Disney’s animated Gnomeo and Juliet and Paramount’s music documentary Justin Bieber: Never Say Never both likely to post solid debuts in the mid to high teens and even perhaps sneak into the low $20 million range. 

Gnomeo will benefit from a dearth of family fare in the marketplace that has propelled Disney’s Tangled and Warner Bros.’ Yogi Bear to better-than-expected revenue totals.  With a G-rating, music by Elton John, the director of Shrek 2 at the helm and a cute 3-D riff on the Shakespeare classic Romeo and Juliet, look for this gnome to stand tall in the weekend box office contest.

Bieber fever is in full swing as the music and life of the teen music sensation is profiled in Justin Bieber: Never Say Never which will have teen girls swooning in the aisles and older audiences gaining a new appreciation for the diminutive crooner who has seemingly come out of nowhere to become the next big thing.  Director Jon Chu is no stranger to the world of music having directed Step Up 2: The Streets and Step Up 3D and this documentary combines concert and behind-the-scenes footage in an attempt to provide insight into the meteoric rise of the charismatic performer.  Teen girls have proven to be a powerful force at the box office in the past and this weekend should be no exception as they come out to support their teen idol as they make him a movie star.

In a weekend filled with newcomers, The Eagle from Focus Features will land in just over 2,000 theatres and a projected gross in the $8 million to $10 million range.  The period costume adventure set in Roman-ruled Britain stars Dear John’s Channing Tatum and puts him in a sandals and swords period piece that will draw fans of epics such as Gladiator, 300 and Clash of the Titans. 

Completing the top 5 line-up will be last weekend’s number one film Sony/Screen Gems The Roommate which will bank somewhere between $6 million and $8 million for the Valentine’s weekend.  Yet another profit-maker for Screen Gems, the film earned back its production budget in its first 3 days of release and looks to gather a total domestic gross of over $20 million by Sunday night.

The bad news for the overall box office picture continues with the revenue downtrend expected to crash headlong into its 14th consecutive week.  The year ago super-strong extended President’s Day weekend (which falls a week later this year) was led by the romantic comedy Valentine’s Day with a $56.3 million 3-day haul and The Wolfman and Percy Jackson and the Olympians both debuting with over $31 million.