Box Office Predictions: ‘Gravity’ Will Send ‘Runner Runner’ Crashing to Earth


Weekend Box-Office Predictions

GravityGravity is your heir apparent to the box office crown this weekend, tracking indicating another easy victory, IMAX and 3-D dollars providing Warner Bros. with a winner. With the $80 million production budget already released, it’s also a fairly simple exercise to project that Cuaron’s latest film will have no problem getting to the $200 million worldwide that would indicate a profit. Why is my call of $44.9 million over tracking? Because I believe this is the rare film that heavily appeals to the female demographic as well, regardless of your personal feelings for Sandra Bullock.

It’s often noted that this is Alfonso Cuaron‘s first film since 2006’s Children of Men, with the inference being how odd that is, but the numbers on the (admittedly great) Children of Men were pretty bleak:

Children of Men

  • Production Budget: $76 million (x2.5= $190 million)
  • Worldwide Box Office: $70 million
  • DVD Sales: $20 million
  • Projected Loss: $100 million (not factoring in television rights, but they wouldn’t have been much)

Looking over those figures, it’s easy to see why it took some doing for a studio to hand over a similar budget once again, but hopefully Gravity will help turn the tide into Cuaron’s favor.

Next up, Runner Runner, the R-rated thriller starring Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake and Gemma Arterton. JT’s comedy record is half decent, but if In Time taught us anything it’s that he might not know his way around an action script. Of course, Runner Runner isn’t really an “action” film, it’s more of a fast-paced drama, but financial comparisons against films like Limitless, Savages, and Smokin’ Aces make sense.

I’ve still gone above tracking with a $14.4 million prediction, because there’s a certain soft spot in the public’s consciousness for both Affleck and Timberlake, but I could see a lukewarm B+ CinemaScore. Yep, that’s about as mean as the general public gets, unless you out and out lie to them (Oh hi, Don Jon!)

Our final two calls are of the limited release variety, starting with Metallica Through the Never. The band has been making the press rounds for the film, and they already have some limited release precedent with Metallica: Some Kind of Monster. That film, in 2004, made just over $2 million, so clearly my call of $3.3 million for an expanded second weekend alone is bullish. I’m going with something I call the “October revival” theory, wherein the first weekend of October is stronger than the last one of September (it’s happened seven times in the last decade, especially noticeable in 2004 and 2012). The money has to go somewhere, and we’re only talking about 400,000 tickets sold here.

Trivia: Inflation since 2004 also gets you a 20 percent bump if you’re looking for reasons to fire off a bigger number.

My last prediction is for Parkland, a movie that won’t make the top ten, but is receiving a significant marketing push. I’m putting it twelfth, at $1.736 million, but those 217 theaters are going to be tough to call. In general, this is a dartboard special, put on the docket to confound … and because there aren’t any other more interesting titles to consider. I have an anecdotal feeling that assassination films, in general, don’t perform at the box office, but I haven’t done enough research to proclaim that theory with anything nearing confidence, and of course there must be be outliers (Lincoln? JFK?).

But enough about me, let’s talk about you and your predictions for this weekend. Get in there and mix it up, a grateful website awaits your mathematical wizardry.

Current Record: 16-41-3 against the wisdom of crowds.

Major Theater Chain (MTC) Tracking

  • Gravity: $39.4 million
  • Runner Runner: $12.4 million
  • Parkland: N/A
  • Metallica Through the Never: N/A

SIDE NOTE: Some of the theater numbers below are estimates. We’ll have the actual counts in Sunday’s wrap-up article.