Taken 3 is the big wide release story of the weekend, but it’s extremely difficult to project. The second one came out in October and opened pretty well, but it was terrible, and the trailers here look brutal as well. It’s also against the NFL playoffs. For this reason, I’m going about 20 percent lower – call it a continuation of sequel fatigue, that 29 percent on RottenTomatoes, or the trailers. Whatever your case against, mine lands at a $38.5 million opening.
Inherent Vice is far more interesting, and they are enforcing scarcity here with 400-500 theaters. There aren’t a massive amount of dedicated PTA fans, but the ones there are support him in limited theaters. Plus, this looks much more accessible than The Master, even though in real life it’s not all that easy a watch. Regardless, I like it to make $5.0 million this weekend, before gaining a few more theaters next weekend.
Also expanding this weekend, and likely to finish much higher than Inherent Vice, is Selma as it expands nationwide into something around 2,350 theaters. Calculating things out to a $7,000 per theater average brings me to a prediction of a $16.4 million second place finish. With Oprah Winfrey supporting this one it could be big and this weekend, which is just what this movie needs to get on the Oscar map as it certainly hasn’t had the necessary impact just yet, outside of all the controversy.
Finally, your guess is as good as mine as to the production budget for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, so shrouded in mystery is Hollywood accounting that it all could have gone to paying for drugs and we’d never know. It was back to a normal drop rate last weekend of 47 percent, the hangover after the holidays, so it should progress in the expected manner from here on out. After three first place weekends it will dip well behind in second place at $13.3 million.
SIDE NOTE: Some of the theater numbers below are estimates. We’ll have the actual counts in Sunday’s wrap-up article.