It would have been great if The Big Year, which stars Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson was also a remake of a 1980′s movie just so it’d be a trifecta, right? I guess you could make the case that Steve Martin peaked as a film actor in the 80′s, so we could pretend every big release this weekend was recycling. Regardless, it will be The Thing – a prequel to a 1982 film – versus Footloose – a remake of the 1984 film – battling for the top spot come Sunday, unless Real Steal surges.

When it comes to weekend business with horror films, it’s usually lopsided. Horror films are what’s known as “Friday pictures,” in that the target audience wants to go opening night more than on – say – Sunday. And The Thing should do better than Footloose come Saturday morning. But with tepid word of mouth, a plot that is directly related to a film that has a cult following, and a core fanbase of the 1982 film (which itself could be termed a remake) that will not much care for the film, it’s got to get that audience of newcomers to flip for the film.

The film has one week until Paramount unleashes Paranormal Activity 3, which is already tracking better. The Thing has a weekend, and basically that boils down to a Friday, which means even if the film gets to $20 Million or more this weekend, it will face a steep drop next weekend and its ceiling looks like $40 domestic in total. With reshoots and a lot of effects  it better hope for good international numbers.

Footloose was much cheaper and has a good shot of not only winning the weekend but playing much longer than The Thing. I’m not convinced there’s a huge audience for this film, but if it plays to tweeners, you never know. I think the problem is that it is recycled. Though I spent time as a youth sifting through my parents music collection, perhaps by being something from the 1980′s, it will be hard for a new generation to embrace what their parents loved at one time (if their parents did love it).

We’re in the midst of October, $16 Million is enough to win a weekend, and this should be able to do that. The problem Paramount is going to face is that the picture is very much an American draw, and though I would be surprised to see the fillm do $60 million or so (which would make it a success), it will likely have little traction outside of the states.

The Big Year did not seem to have a strong marketing campaign, though it may be targeted more at an audience that watches The View, or a number of more adult contemporary type shows. Off season would be a good place for a film like this, but if Fox felt like they had something it seems like they would have put more effort into getting it out there. Maybe a year of bird watching isn’t the best plot, but this could conceivably play long if it works. But you’d need some interest and some work, and it doesn’t feel like Fox has laid that groundwork.

What’s interesting about that is that the film surely cost over $40 Million dollars, and unless there’s a great surge, there’s no way they’re going to recoup that money in the next year. It comes from the director of The Devil Wears Prada, and it’s possible the film was green-lit because  of that success even though no one really liked the idea. And then when it came out, it arrives DOA. Studios are wasteful like that.

It’s possible that Real Steel could stay on top for a second weekend if word of mouth is strong. Right now that doesn’t seem to be the case, so let’s do the numbers.

  1. Footloose – $17.5 Million
  2. Real Steel – $16.9 Million
  3. The Thing – $14 Million
  4. Dolphin Tale – $6.1 Million
  5. The Big Year – $6 Million

We could see The Ides of March sneak in there, too. It’s possible that both Footloose or The Thing could surge to an over $20 Million opening, and that would be great for both, but I’m wary of suggesting as much. I may also be going to high on Real Steel, which feels like a strong audience picture. Next week will be all about Paranormal Activity 3, and then the week after the Fall season is going to kick off a week early with Puss in Boots.

What are you going to see this weekend?