Last weekend, we saw two new picture do much more business than expected on a Super Bowl weekend. This weekend we’re looking at four pictures that could all do over $20 Million. Safe House, The Vow, The Phantom Menace 3-D, and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island all have name players, and target audience appeal.  Who wins? Take a look…

The reissue of The Phantom Menace brings out a sense of nostalgia for the simpler times of 1999. The economy was good, the internet was growing, there had been no terrorist attack on New York, and we didn’t know how bad the Prequel trilogy could get. I remember watching the film – which had been parsed a little before it hit theaters so things like Jar-Jar Binks or Midichlorians were not surprising – and finding it mostly pleasant. I guess my main feeling was that though it wasn’t a great story, it felt like Star Wars, and it didn’t mess anything up too bad. It was the later films that I couldn’t stand, partly because important things (like characters falling in love, or choosing to be on the side of evil) were done so poorly. Others had much more violent reactions to the film either positive or negative, positions still debated today. That said, the world has cooled on these films, their cultural touchstone status has more to do with obligation and our new blockbuster culture. When people quote the original trilogy, it’s usually out of affection, when people quote the prequel trilogy, it’s usually as a goof. The internet has pockets of hard core fans of the six film series, but they are now in the position Star Trek fans were in when that franchise became geek-only culture.

George Lucas has made it clear, he’s selling this reissue to the children, so it’ll be interesting to see how the people who experienced this first react. As such, if there is a surprise this weekend, it’ll be this.

Safe House is Denzel Washington doing a thriller. These films tend to open to $20 Million or so. It co-stars Ryan Reynolds. He’s negligible. Word isn’t good but that doesn’t matter, a base audience is a base audience and there’s nothing else out that is going to appeal from these new films. Which means the film should do the numbers of an Unstoppable or a Book of Eli -somewhere between $20 – $30 Million. This should be on the lower side of that spectrum, but still respectable.

I doubt anyone who wants to see Safe House is going to see The Vow, except the most dedicated of film fans. Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams star in the only romance picture out before Valentine’s Day. That should be enough to get it to the number one spot. I don’t think audiences have warmed to Tatum as much as studios would like at this point, but it seems they’re going to have to at the rate he makes movies. Arguably, McAdams was close to generating a fanbase a couple years back, but then she didn’t do anything for three years. it was a curious decision that may have hurt her branding, but may have kept her sane. It’s possible people will turn up for this in the hopes of getting that The Notebook feeling and timing is everything. Timing should help the picture get over $25 Million

Journey 2 might get some boost from Dwayne Johnson. The first film surprisingly made over $100 at the box office. Brendan Fraser deigned not to appear in this one, though it’s likely Johnson signed on for this before Fast Five, which was his first huge hit in a good long while. Or, that is to say, they probably got him for cheap. This is something of an obligatory sequel, and reviews have skewed negative, but the spots sell the film well enough that it should at least open.

The crazy thing is that means that four films should or could do around $20 Million this weekend, with two new pictures last weekend also doing $20. If they all hit the top six should do over $100 Million, which – for what’s supposed to be cinema’s quiet season – is striking.

So let’s make some magic:

  1. The Vow – $27.3 Million
  2. Safe House – $22.7 Million
  3. Star Wars 4 (or Star Wars 1) – $22.5 Million
  4. Journey 2 – $13.9 Million
  5. Chronicle – $11 Million

The Vow could go higher, it’s been doing well in tracking and advanced ticket sales. Then again, so could Journey or Star Wars – it all depends on the younger kids who are harder to track.

What’s your favorite Star Wars memory?