Image Credit: Wilson WebbFor the third weekend in a row, Little Fockers, True Grit, and TRON: Legacy should top the box office — but in what order? I thought True Grit would pull out in front last weekend, but it ended up trailing Fockers by $1.3 million. Here I am, however, predicting the Coen brothers’ Western as the winner yet again. Maybe I’m just stubborn like Hailee Steinfeld’s Mattie Ross, but True Grit has led the pack on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and I think its time for box-office glory has finally come. Also making an appearance this weekend is the new Nicolas Cage supernatural thriller Season of the Witch, which will hopefully provide some new material for future “Nicolas Cage loses his sh–” videos. And Country Strong, the country-music drama starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, and a happier-looking Garrett Hedlund, expands nationwide. My predictions:
1. True Grit: $16 million
My reasons for putting True Grit at No. 1 this week are pretty much the same reasons from last week: It’s a hit with critics (95 percent approval at Rotten Tomatoes), a hit with moviegoers (it has climbed to No. 184 on IMDb’s Top 250 Movies list), and it has received award nominations from practically every organization except the Tourist-y Golden Globes. Furthermore, it dropped a smaller amount than Little Fockers did last week (2 percent compared to 16 percent), and it’s been topping the charts every day since Monday. Look for True Grit to fall a modest 35 percent and win the weekend in what should be a nail-biter.
2. Little Fockers: $15 million
Grandma, Grandpa, and Uncle Mark have all left town by now, so Little Fockers will no longer be the movie of choice for families that were home during the holidays. And with a 5.4 rating on IMDb, as well as a B- from CinemaScore moviegoers, its word-of-mouth can’t possibly be as positive as it is for True Grit. Still, it’s one of Hollywood’s most recognizable comedy franchises, and the other comedies out there aren’t offering much competition. (Looking at you, Gulliver’s Travels and How Do You Know). Expect a decline of just over 40 percent.
3. TRON: Legacy: $11 million
This weekend will be the first real test of TRON: Legacy‘s staying power. Disney’s computer-set action film fell 57 percent its second weekend, but that was Christmas weekend — a historically slow frame at the box office. And last weekend, it slipped only 2 percent, but practically every film held up well last weekend. My sense is that TRON will follow the same it’s-no-longer-the-holidays trajectory as Little Fockers. In other words, a deresolution of around 40 percent.
4. Season of the Witch: $10 million
The box-office draw of Nicholas Cage, who’s lately been making more movies than Maru the Cat, has been all over the map the past few years. He opened Knowing to $24.6 million and National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets to a whopping $44.8 million, but The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Bangkok Dangerous disappointed with $17.6 million and $7.8 million, respectively. In the $40 million Season of the Witch, Cage plays a 14th-century knight charged with transporting a woman who may or may not be a witch. (Requisite Monty Python clip). The trailer promises all sorts of spooky thrills, and there’s definitely an audience out there for that. But the few reviews that have popped up so far haven’t been merciful, and the film’s long-delayed release (it was originally due in theaters last March) doesn’t inspire much confidence. Cage’s The Wicker Man debuted to $9.6 million in 2006, and Witch should perform similarly.
5. Country Strong: $7.5 million
This music drama has done decently, but not spectacularly, in limited release the past two weeks, where it has been playing in L.A. and Nashville. Now it’s expanding to 1,424 theaters, and Sony would obviously love to attract the same audience that propelled Crazy Heart to hit status last winter. But with little awards buzz and mediocre reviews, Country Strong may struggle to reach moviegoers who aren’t already country music fans.