The Roommate
Credit: Jaimie Trueblood

Image Credit: Jaimie TruebloodWith practically every Y-chromosome in America focusing its attention on Super Bowl Sunday, don’t expect a very high score from the box office this weekend. The films that normally fare best against the big game are those that attract female moviegoers, particularly young, single women. Last year, the romantic drama Dear John debuted to a potent $30.5 million, drawing an opening-weekend audience that was 84 percent female. This year’s female-skewing offering, the new college thriller The Roommate, will likely make only half that, but the result should still be enough to lead the frame. The weekend’s other new release, the 3-D cave-diving thriller Sanctum, will have to settle for second place as its target audience virtually vanishes on Sunday. My predictions:

1. The Roommate: $15 million

Sony’s PG-13 thriller, about a college freshman (Friday Night Lights‘ Minka Kelly) who winds up living with a deranged roommate (Gossip Girl‘s Leighton Meester), should work well as counter-programming for those seeking a non-football diversion this weekend. The fact that the $8 million picture hasn’t screened for critics is discouraging but not unexpected, as The Roommate should be able to pull in its audience on the basis of its psycho-roomie premise alone. Recent horror thrillers that debuted on Super Bowl weekend include The Uninvited, The Eye, The Messengers, and When a Stranger Calls, which opened to $10.3 million, $12.4 million, $14.7 million, and $21.6 million, respectively. The Roommate seems poised to land somewhere in the middle of that pack.

2. Sanctum: $12 million

This Universal thriller, executive produced by James Cameron and filmed using the same cameras he employed for Avatar, has two main selling points: Cameron and 3-D. The mostly Aussie cast won’t fill any seats, and the film’s R rating could deter families. The most appropriate comparison points would be 2005’s The Cave, which debuted to $6.2 million, and 2006’s chilling The Descent, which started out with $8.9 million. Sanctum will benefit from 3-D surcharges (about 74 percent of its 2,789 theaters are projecting in the third dimension), and Cameron’s name should reel in a portion of the Comic-Con crowd. But the modest $30 million film will ultimately have to be content with cracking $10 million its first weekend.

3. No Strings Attached: $9 million

The R-rated romantic comedy held up well its second weekend, slipping only 32 percent. I don’t see any reason not to predict a similar drop this weekend, taking Paramount’s $25 million movie, starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, past the $50 million mark.

4. The King’s Speech: $8 million

Last weekend, this Oscar front-runner (with its commanding 12 nominations) expanded to 2,557 theaters and grossed a royal $11.1 million. The British historical drama adds a few more theaters this weekend (27 to be precise), and should witness a slight drop of just under 30 percent as the R-rated film continues its march toward $100 million. By the end of this weekend, The King’s Speech will have likely accumulated around $84 million domestically.

5. The Rite: $6 million

The Anthony Hopkins exorcism thriller may have topped the charts last weekend (with $14.8 million), but it will undoubtedly plummet this weekend, as most horror films tend to do. The Roommate will steal much of The Rite‘s PG-13 audience, and its unsavory reviews won’t help it win many new fans.