Friday, February 1, 2013

Forecast: 'Warm Bodies' To Add Some Life to Quiet Super Bowl Weekend

With unimpressive holdovers and modest newcomers, Super Bowl weekend is likely going to be one of the slowest at the box office this year. Due to its appeal among younger women—who are less likely to be gung-ho about the big game—zombie romance Warm Bodies should be able to claim first place at 3,009 locations. Meanwhile, Sylvester Stallone tries to leverage goodwill from The Expendables in to solo outing Bullet to the Head, though it's hard to imagine he fares much better than co-stars Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Warm Bodies is adapted from the 2011 book of the same name in which a zombie (Nicholas Hoult) begins to regain consciousness when he falls in love with a human girl (Teresa Palmer) in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Distributor Summit Entertainment has executed a targeted marketing effort that has done a solid job explaining this unique story in a way that should appeal to both zombie fans (think The Walking Dead) and supernatural romance fans (think Twilight). Overall, though, the movie is probably too niche to appeal outside of these core constituencies, and so it's unlikely it really breaks out.

Super Bowl weekend last year featured two $20 million debuts—Chronicle ($22 million) and The Woman in Black ($20.9 million)—both of which were aimed at the young audience that Warm Bodies is going for. Add in the fact that Warm Bodies faces less competition, and a weekend gross in the high-teens seems very reachable (Summit is more modestly predicting low-to-mid-teen millions).

At 2,404 locations, R-rated action movie Bullet to the Head is Sylvester Stallone's first solo, non-sequel outing since 2001's Driven, which disappointed with just $32.7 million. In reality, Stallone's box office track record is modest at best: excluding The Expendables and sequels, his best opening ever belongs to 1993's Cliffhanger ($16.2 million).

Bullet to the Head's marketing highlights Stallone's involvement and little else. It's hard to get a grasp for the story, and the action looks on par with straight-to-video fare. This suggests that Bullet to the Head will wind up like Stallone's Expendables 2 co-stars' recent projects: Arnold Schwarzenegger's The Last Stand opened to $6.3 million, while Jason Statham's Parker debuted to just over $7 million.

Action comedy Stand Up Guys—which stars Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin—is getting a very light nationwide release in to 659 theaters. The movie had an awards-qualifying run in December, but garnered middling reviews and little awards attention (it was at least nominated for Best Original Song at the Golden Globes). Lionsgate hasn't thrown a ton of support behind the movie since then, and an opening weekend over $2 million would be surprising.

Forecast (Feb. 1-3)
1. Warm Bodies - $17.7 million
2. Hansel and Gretel - $8.7 million (-56%)
3. Bullet to the Head -$7.9 million
4. Silver Linings - $6.6 million (-30%)
5. Mama - $6.3 million (-52%)
6. Zero Dark Thirty - $5.6 million (-42%)

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