Four new movies crowd this end of summer weekend. As TV and radio are bombarded with back to school ads, Final Destination 5, The Help, 30 Minutes or Less, and Glee the 3D Concert Movie hit the big screen. It’s a weekend that becomes a theater palette-cleanser, as the hangers-on’s that have still been playing on a couple of screens finally leave. This is bad news for films like Friends With Benefits, or The Change Up – even Cowboys and Aliens. If the goal was to have less competition from A-list titles, it’s hard to stem the tide of new products, and next week there’s also four wide releases. Check out our predictions…

With the 3-D bump, it’s likely that Final Destination 5 will lead the weekend. The fourth film was in 3-D and opened to $27 Million, and was the highest grosser of the franchise with $66 Million domestic, and nearly $120 Million overseas. That film wasn’t that great, but word on this one is good. Regardless if it’s better than the last one, horror films and franchises tend to be front loaded, and the industry term for it is a Friday picture. That’s because the first day is almost always the best as long as the picture doesn’t open on a Wednesday, but with midnight shows that’s not always the case. Regardless, New Line and Warner Brothers know how this works. They spend less than $30 Million on production, get Tony Todd to give the series a little continuity and then a bunch of no-names to kill off in spectacular ways and then get out of dodge. The film runs 82 minutes – barely feature length – and it’s engineered to play quick and fast. It’s doubtful it will do as well as the last one (which had more room to breathe), but it’s going to do well enough to take the weekend.

The Help is a film for book clubs. The novel it was based on was a success, and the film is going to play. It will be a slow burn, though, and it seems everyone involved knew that because they didn’t release it on a Friday. This often happens with event/holiday films or ethnic film (which goes back to an old practice of trying to keep the opening night audience slightly thinned as a result of a period where such titles provoked violence), but with this film the audience isn’t the sort that’s going to go opening night, even if they’ll go to see it, so the goal is to do enough business to play steady. The industry isn’t really geared toward that these days – something that began when home video became more and more predominant – but we’ve seen pictures play long. Even if this doesn’t take the weekend, the likelihood of it outgrossing virtually everything this month outside of Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a good bet.

30 Minutes or Less is coming at a time where there’s just been too many comedies. Though word has been mixed to positive – we liked it – i tnever got the juice needed. It should do just okay, probably top out around $40-$50 Million, but won’t have the heat of Ruben Fleischer’s  Zombieland, which did $75 Million domestic. Box office-wise, it’s a sophmore slump, but the schedule is more to blame for the film’s failure than the film itself.

Glee the 3D Concert Movie is going to be more meaningful for people who hate Glee than those who love it. Though there was already a spin-off TV show that bombed, this is looking to underperform as well. Basically, Glee hit market saturation, and it’s waning now. We’ve seen way too many cultural events like this, and what it signals is that either the people behind it think its appeal is quick so they’ve been trying to eke out as much money as possible, or they’re unintentionally or intentionally trying to kill it by oversaturation. Glee was never that cool to begin with, so it’s not like it’s losing cool points, but when a show makes that much of an impression right away, and much of the cast go do their big movies, etc. It tends to mean that the show is on the way down. that doesn’t mean the ratings are going to plummet immediately, but if the film doesn’t do well (tracking isn’t suggesting it won’t), then it’s about holding on the audience, and the cast. But with everyone going off and doing movies, everyone’s going to want more money, and the show doesn’t seem to have the appeal of Friends. We shall see.

And so for the weekend predictions:

  1. Final Destination 5 – $25.7 Million
  2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes – $25 Million
  3. The Help – $18 Million
  4. 30 Minutes or Less – $16.5 Million
  5. The Smurfs – $13 Million

Expect Glee in the bottom five, looking to do less than $10 Million.

What do you want to see this weekend?