Weekend Box Office Predictions 3/26

Posted March 26th, 2010 at 7:18 am

After three weeks in the clear Alice in Wonderland will be taken down this weekend by at least one, if not both new entries at the box office. How to Train Your Dragon arrives as the 3D animated entry with wide appeal and Hot Tub Time Machine as the latest in R rated comedies.

Dreamworks Animation, the studio responsible for Shrek and Kung Fu Panda most notably, presents How to Train Your Dragon. Reviews have been phenomenal. Right now it has a stunning 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. That puts it in the company of Pixar classics like Wall-E (96%) and Up (98%) and shows just how well received the film has been by critics.

The next in the line to benefit from 3D following Avatar and Alice, the film is getting praise for its visuals. It was created with 3D in mind from the start, and is not one of the ones converted in post-production. That has shown to make a huge difference in quality and audiences are beginning to recognize the difference in value. However, with the previous two films still taking up some screens, that will limit how much of a bonus that Dragon will see this weekend.

The movie also hits on the very day where theaters are raising ticket prices across the board, about 8% for 3D tickets. So that will provide a boost to the box office take as well. Look for How to Train Your Dragon to open to about $48 million.

R rated comedies tend to be difficult to market, the nature of the movies tend not to translate well to restricted commercials and trailers. Given this Hot Tub Time Machine went the route of showing a ton of early screenings across the country, especially targeting college towns. This has allowed for a build-up of positive buzz with word of mouth carrying the marketing effort. Still HTTM is being pushed heavily in commercials, which seems to be avoiding the typical “show a handful of jokes”, which wouldn’t work well in this case, and playing up on the general silly concept of the movie.

Reviews are actually very good for this type of comedy. It currently sits at 65% on Rotten Tomatoes, Ebert gave it 3/4 stars, and in my review from late last month I gave it 3.5/5 stars. There really isn’t anything comparable out on the market so it has clear sailing for the crowd seeking out laughs. Hot Tub Time Machine could make about $21 million this weekend and see it hold up well over the coming weeks. It won’t be this year’s The Hangover but it has the potential based on word of mouth to keep momentum.

Opening Predictions
How to Train Your Dragon:  $48 Million
Hot Tub Time Machine: $21 Million