After the huge success of Taken three years ago, Liam Neeson became something of a beginning of the year go-to star, sort of. He’s had Unknown open to good numbers last year in February and I’m guessing distributor Open Road Films expects similar results from this year’s The Grey. Also new are Summit Entertainment’s Man on a Ledge and Lionsgate’s One for the Money.
The Grey opens today in 3185 theaters and is the movie to beat. Now if this didn’t have Liam Neeson I’d probably give it $8 million or so but thanks to the 59 year old actor, everything changes. For the past three years, with the exception of The Next Three Days (small role anyway), all Liam Neeson’s live-action wide releases have opened above $20 million and while most expect $14-18 million from The Grey, I’m going a bit higher with $22 million. I know it’s R-rated (Taken and Unknown were both PG-13) but reviews are great (75% on Rotten Tomatoes) and Liam Neeson has become quite a box office draw in the past few years.
In 2nd place we should see former leader Underworld Awakening with $12 million, bringing its total to $44.5 million after 10 days, neck-a-neck with Underworld: Evolution‘s $44.6 million after 10 days.
Newcomer One for the Money will be 3rd. This is an action-comedy starring Katherine Heigl and Jason O’Mara (Terra Nova) based on a best-selling novel by Janet Evanovich. Fans of the book might help this film but that won’t be enough for it to go higher than $11 million. For Katherine Heigl this could be her worst opening flick in 6 years. For reference, her wide openings average $15.4 million according to Box Office Mojo. Also, doesn’t this look a bit too much like The Bounty Hunter?
In 4th place Red Tails could reach $10 million but looking at its weekdays, a lower number makes more sense. That will mean $33 million in 10 days and rather slim chances for the flick to reach $50 million at the end of its run in North America. Very disappointing after such a promising opening.
We finally come around to 5th place and the last new release of the weekend, Man on a Ledge. Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell and Ed Harris star in this familiar looking thriller. Now Sam Worthington has had success with flicks like Terminator: Salvation, Avatar and Clash of the Titans, but that doesn’t make him a box office draw, not yet anyway. Man on a Ledge just doesn’t look interesting so I’m only gonna give it $8 million.
As you all might know, on Tuesday the Academy Awards nominations were announced and that was certainly good publicity for the flicks getting a best picture nod. Today we’ve got The Descendants (5 nominations), Hugo (11) and The Artist (10) all expanding but the only one with any chance to reach the top 10 is George Clooney’s The Descendants in 1997 theaters.
Next weekend is in February already and we’ve got Universal’s Big Miracle, Fox’s Chronicles and Harry Potter’s The Woman in Black opening.