Box Office: January’s Beauties, Beasts and Smugglers

ON

After a smashing debut to 2012, the second week of January launches the first four-day holiday weekend of the year as the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated by many with some school closings Monday as well as government offices giving everything a bump for the weekend.

The strongest new movie looks to be the return of Mark Wahlberg in Contraband (Universal), a remake of an Icelandic crime thriller that should appeal to Wahlberg’s male fanbase, who won’t have much interest in the other two new movies. Co-starring Kate Beckinsale (upcoming Underworld Awakening), Ben Foster and Giovanni Ribisi, it’s been promoted decently as an action-thriller that should appeal to teen and older male moviegoers even if it doesn’t seem like a slamdunk must-see. Wahlberg has proven his ability to draw in a wide mix of audiences, especially in urban areas, and his absence from screens for the last year should help convince his fans to go out and see it opening weekend, so it should be able to bring in somewhere between $18 and 20 million over the long weekend and $45 to 50 million total.

Interview with Mark Wahlberg

Interview with Giovanni Ribisi

While Contraband should do decent business, the movie that should capitalize the most on schools being out is the one family film, the second 3D rerelease from Walt Disney Studios after the enormous success of The Lion King 3D back in September. That opened with $30 million and added another $94 million to its already-impressive box office total. This time, they’re going with the 1991 animated musical Beauty and the Beast 3D (Disney), a rare animated movie to receive a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars in its time–it’s more common now–as well as winning two of its four Oscars for song and original score by Alan Menken. Even so, it only grossed about half as much as The Lion King in its original theatrical run, and we’re not sure it’s going to work as well as a 3D release. Women generally enjoy the film’s romance and songs, which should convince mothers to bring their daughters who may have been too young to see it in theaters. While Contraband should win Friday with ease, this should pick up enough business over the weekend to make it a tighter race, although we think this will end up just short with between $17 and 18 million over the four-day weekend and somewhere around $45 million total depending on how long they decide to keep it in theaters.

Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton face off in Joyful Noise (Warner Bros.), a musical comedy that should appeal to older African-American women as well as Dolly’s church-going country music crowd, which covers a lot of bases. In 2006, Latifah starred in Last Holiday, a film which opened with $15.5 million over the four-day MLK weekend in 2,500 theaters, but we think this one might fall just short of that, since it will be dividing its potential female audiences with Beauty and the Beast and it looks kind of dumb. We’re thinking it ends up with just under $15 million over the four-day weekend and roughly $35 million total.

Also, Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady (The Weinstein Co.), starring Meryl Streep in an awards-worthy performance as former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, will expand into roughly 700 theaters on Friday, which should allow it to bring in between $3.5 and 4 million over the four days.

We also expect last week’s #1 The Devil Inside to have a huge drop in its second weekend, potentially dropping down to fifth place.

This weekend last year, the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend saw the release of Seth Rogen’s action-comedy The Green Hornet (Sony), which opened with an impressive $40 million over the four-day weekend, completely overshadowing the Vince Vaughn-Kevin James comedy The Dilemma (Universal), directed by Ron Howard, which did a relatively disappointing $20 million over the same four days. The Top 10 at the box office grossed roughly $130.3 million over the four days, but since we think the three new movies will make less than $60 million between them, this weekend will probably fall just short.

This Week’s Predictions

The below are all four-day predictions for the long weekend including Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday.

1. Contraband (Universal) – $19.0 million N/A

2. Beauty and the Beast 3D (Walt Disney) – $17.2 million N/A

3. Joyful Noise (Warner Bros.) – $14.6 million N/A

4. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (Paramount) – $14.0 million -30%

5. The Devil Inside (Paramount) – $11.8 million -65%

6. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Warner Bros) – $9.6 million -30%

7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sony) – $7.8 million -32%

8. Alvin and the Chipmunks – Chipwrecked (20th Century Fox) – $7.4 million -22%

9. War Horse (DreamWorks Pictures) – $6.0 million -31%

10. We Bought a Zoo (20th Century Fox) – $6.0 million -28%

The Iron Lady (The Weinstein Company) – $3.5 million

And now, it’s the return ofÂ…

*****THE CHOSEN ONE*******

Every once in a while, we see a movie so good we have to give it a bit more attention and that is the case with the documentary Sing Your Song (S2BN Films), which opens in New York City at the IFC Center and in Los Angeles at the Lammle Playhouse 7.

It tells the story of Harry Belafonte, best known for singing traditional folk songs like his hit “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song),” but as we see in the movie, there’s a lot more to the activist, who has been involved in every major movement going back to World War II, but especially when it comes to the Civil Rights movement and introducing equality and integration in a racially divided country. The film covers his early days as a television pioneer with his show “An Evening with Belafonte,” which broke so many racial boundaries, and later on, he is one of the primary Americans to travel to Africa and bring that culture to America, whether it’s musicians such as Miriam Makeba or supporting jailed South African activist. He even starts an educational exchange program with young men from Zaire including the father of one President Barack Obama.

Filmmaker Susanne Rostock brilliantly uses archival footage to tell Belafonte’s story, interspersed with introspective testimonials by Belafonte and some of his many friends and collaborators over the years – and that’s quite an impressive roster in itself. The results are an incredibly powerful film that will inform anyone who doesn’t realize the huge contribution Belafonte has made to making the world a better place.

After a festival run going back to its premiere at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, Sing Your Song has made it onto the Oscar doc shortlist, and if there’s any justice in the world, it will receive the Oscar nomination and possibly even win.

Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin (Oscilloscope Laboratories) stars Tilda Swinton as a mother who has spent years trying to connect with her difficult son Kevin, but after tormenting her for years, the teen Kevin (played by Ezra Miller) does something unspeakable. After shocking and impressing audiences on the festival circuit as well as making many year-end Top 10 lists, it opens in New York on Friday, January 13

Interview with Ezra Miller

Review

Hitman director Xavier Gens returns with The Divide (Anchor Bay Films), a post-apocalyptic thriller about a group of nine tenants of a New York high-rise apartment who escape a nuclear holocaust by hiding in the building’s basement, which drives them all to crazy behavior. Starring Lauren German, Michael Biehn, Milo Ventimiglia, Courtney B. Vance, Ashton Holmes and Rosanna Arquette, it opens in New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Boston and other select cities on Friday.

Mini-Review (Coming Soon!)

Tribeca Films is giving two of their films currently playing Video on Demand a limited theatrical release, with Edward Burns’ romantic comedy Newlyweds in which he costars with Caitlin Fitzgerald as the title characters, a married couple who have been married for roughly a year who start reevaluating their relationship when their respective sisters start interfering. It opens in Chicago on Friday. Vincent D’Onofrio makes his directorial debut Don’t Go In the Woods, a musical slasher film about a band who goes to the woods to write some new songs and are systematically slaughtered by a mysterious assailant they encounter there It opens at New York’s Cinema Village on Friday.

Interview with Edward Burns and Caitlin Fitzgerald

Interview with Vincent D’Onofrio

“Twilight” star Peter Facinelli wrote and stars in Michael Corrente’s Loosies (IFC Films), playing a New York pickpocket named Bobby who has a one-night stand with a woman (Jaimie Alexander) who then tells him she’s pregnant, forcing him to reevaluate his lifestyle.

Next week, after starring in this week’s Contraband, Kate Beckinsale returns to playing the vampire assassin Selene in Underworld Awakening (Sony/Screen Gems). Director Steven Soderbergh also returns with the spy action-thriller Haywire (Relativity Media), starring Mixed Martial Arts superstar Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas. Also, a mostly African-American cast brings to light the story of the Tuskegee Airmen in the war movie Red Tails (20th Century Fox).

You can read stuff like this and regular box office, awards and festival coverage on the new Weekend Warrior Blog and to keep up with the latest articles and posts, you can follow us on Twitter.

Copyright 2012 Edward Douglas