Box office preview: Aliens to crush werewolves as 'Battle: Los Angeles' clashes with 'Red Riding Hood'
They’re gonna need a bigger multiplex. The recent onslaught of new releases continues as Hollywood unveils three movies this weekend, on top of the four films that debuted last week. Two of the new entries, Battle: Los Angeles and Mars Needs Moms, feature nefarious extraterrestrials, while the third, Red Riding Hood, will provide teenage girls their regular dose of sizzling guys who may or may not be werewolves. The three films also target distinct demographics: men of all ages for Battle: Los Angeles, teenage girls and young women for Red Riding Hood, and kids for Mars Needs Moms. The only audience segment being neglected here is, well, adult moviegoers looking for pictures that actually earned favorable reviews. But those individuals should check out Rango (seriously), or The Adjustment Bureau, or the still-in-theaters and Oscar-winning The King’s Speech. Here are my predictions for the weekend’s top five:
1. Battle: Los Angeles: $31 million
It was a sunny 76 degrees in L.A. today, so naturally the city has to be destroyed. While reviews for Sony’s $70 million alien-invasion film have been abysmal, the movie’s marketing has been slick — particularly those trailers set to that wonderfully eerie song by Icelandic musician Jóhann Jóhannsson. The PG-13 film’s ensemble isn’t particularly star-studded (Aaron Eckhart is the most recognizable cast member), but that shouldn’t keep a significant amount of (predominantly male) moviegoers from getting their disaster-action-film fix. Battle: Los Angeles won’t quite match the opening of, say, 2009’s District 9 ($37.4 million), but it should have no trouble declaring victory this weekend.
2. Rango: $22 million
The PG animated film, starring Johnny Depp as a pet chameleon that’s stranded in the Nevada desert, debuted to $38.1 million last weekend. Animated films, particularly ones as favorably reviewed as Rango, tend to hold up well. But Rango also received a troubling “C+” rating from CinemaScore graders, perhaps due to parents discovering that the Western is a bit darker (and its language a bit saltier) than anticipated. But if Rango loses favor with the parents who have young children, hopefully it’ll also gain support from those adults who’ll appreciate an animated film that’s willing to reference everything from Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns to Apocalypse Now‘s “Ride of the Valkyries” helicopter attack to the basic storyline of Chinatown. Look for a drop that’s a bit more than 40 percent.
3. Red Riding Hood: $20 million
Catherine Hardwicke’s first feature since directing 2008’s Twilight should attract a sizable chunk of that movie’s fanbase. This Hot Topic revision of the classic fairy tale has received even harsher reviews than Battle: Los Angeles, but once again, that won’t matter for the PG-13 film’s core audience of young women. Red Riding Hood stars up-and-coming actress Amanda Seyfried, two good-looking guys in Shiloh Fernandez and Max (son of Jeremy) Irons, and, like, a werewolf too. How can this thing not gross $20 million?
4. The Adjustment Bureau: $12 million
As one of the few films in theaters that’s intended for an older (and more discerning) audience, this Matt Damon thriller shouldn’t be affected too much by this week’s new competition. A decline of 40-45 percent seems reasonable.
5. Mars Needs Moms: $11.5 million
This is going to hurt. Disney’s 3-D animated adventure cost a reported $150 million to produce, and it could open to less than $10 million this weekend. I’m predicting a slightly better result than that; after all, those 3-D surcharges should help some, and the film’s playing on 211 IMAX screens. But reviews for the Robert Zemeckis-produced movie have been mediocre, its title is unwieldy, and the far livelier Rango came out just a week ago.