It’s the week of release, so it’s only fair that you’ve seen a lot of 21 Jump Street coverage here. Would you like to read my interviews with screenwriter Michael Bacall, stars Rob Riggle, and Brie Larson or the directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord? You can. Or not, up to you. But it’s the only new movie this week, and with John Carter‘s weak performance last weekend, it’s a got a clear shot to be the number one picture this weekend.

As I write about box office, it’s worth noting what Jeremy Smith (aka Mr. Beaks) of Ain’t it Cool News said about John Carter‘s opening weekend. Regardless of how well 21 Jump Street does this weekend, when it comes to the numbers, Carter‘s the biggest story going right now. And I should note we talked briefly as he asked what I thought the highest possibly tally for Carter‘s domestic could be. I did some number crunching and said that $90 would seem to be the ceiling, based on it’s opening weekend numbers. I came to that conclusion by looking at other films that opened to around the same numbers, and what could be some of the X factors (Battle Los Angeles opened to more, but wasn’t as kid-friendly, though this has The Lorax in its way for the younger kids).

There are two things that are worth noting. John Carter‘s international reception has been great, though its domestic reception will surely stymie any future endeavors without some sort of “reboot” stamping, or whatever they do to make people realize that this is better/different/etc. And now with more films being released across the globe around the same time, we’re getting to the point where international numbers will mean more than domestic.

For many, when they think of a film like Gulliver’s Travels they think “bomb,” but the film made money internationally, and there are a number of films that may not makes as strong an impression here as they do around the world. It’s quite possible that Carter will make a half a billion internationally while not crossing the hundred million dollar mark at home.

The other big thing to note is that audiences are susceptible to branding, something that the studios have encouraged, and have been building to this point where sequels now dominate the list of the highest grossing films of the year. This leads to more sequels and reboots, etc. instead of films like Inception or John Carter. Though Jeremy was railing against the group-think that damns a flawed film to the trash-pile simply because the creator has enjoyed success and that may cause a film like John Carter to be greeted with the cold shoulder, that audiences know what they’re getting before they get it is what makes this marketplace seem so dire.

Gone are the days of audiences following movie stars from film to film, now it’s about following a title, which often repeats what made the first film work. Criticism is an act of advocacy, and the system is now rigged so that first line of defense against crap films has been ceded, and the only time audiences reject these sort of big budget films is if it isn’t a brand they know.

And I know that I’m writing about numbers, but numbers have never had anything to do with good. Sometimes they do show that audiences responded to a film, but opening weekends are mostly about marketing and branding. The numbers dictate what gets made and what doesn’t, but budgets and how a film does or could do have nothing to do with what a film is, and people don’t think about how much a film costs while they’re watching it unless that film is bad. And so now we have a film that cost somewhere over $250 Million dollars that’s become an underdog. Which makes up seem like down.

Anyway, 21 Jump Street has been tracking well and word of mouth is excellent. So let’s make with the numbering.

  1. 21 Jump Street – $30.7 Million
  2. The Lorax -$22 Million
  3. John Carter – $14.7 Million
  4. Project X – $6.5 Million
  5. Act of Valor – $4 Million

21 Jump Street could get as high as $40 Million, though I think the bottom is $25 Million. And that’s that.

What are you going to see this weekend?