There are four films this weekend: The Five Year Engagement, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, The Raven and Safe. By next weekend, most will be dead. Such are the offerings before the summer season, films that are either meant to be counter-programming, or studio dumps that are being release partly out of contractual obligation. Let’s talk the numbers shall we?

It’s interesting to note that last summer Fast Five hit this weekend – which means the film is a year old, and should be celebrated accordingly – and did great (or as the trades would say “Boffo”) business. There is no time of the year now that a picture can’t open. But studios need to have weaker months to put out titles they’re not entire sure about. There are some films that are going to do business no matter where in the year you put them, but most movies are made or broken by how things come together by their release date. Last week we saw Think Like a Man do exceedingly well, but part of that was that it was well sold and there hadn’t been a film aimed at black audiences in months. Would it have done as well in the heat of summer season when people expect blockbusters, or up against a film like The Hunger Games? It seems unlikely. But it is a huge hit. Timing is a lot.

The Five Year Engagement could be successful counter-programming and play for a while. Though here the release date seems to be working against the film. I don’t know if Universal knew how to sell it as anything other than “more of the same.” Everything about it says that it’s a Judd Apatow production, and that may be enough, but it’s not the first big Jason Segal film – in fact we’ve seen a lot of him lately – and there’s another two Emily Blunt films coming soon. Word is mixed and there’s no real heat on the thing. It could play long if there’s good word of mouth, but this is no Bridesmaids.

The Pirates! also could do a bit better than expected – or play longer than its opening weekend might suggest – simply because it’s the only film for nearly a month geared to the under-ten set. Yet it feels like this will do better internationally because its an Aardman animation production. Wallace and Gromit never had the impact in America that it had in England, though it’s obviously got a cult following.

The Raven and Safe are just dumps. The former already opened internationally, while the latter is a Jason Statham film. Had Safe come out in a less busy season – where action wasn’t about to be dominated by hundred million dollar productions – it might have had more of a chance, but the target audience for both (young white males) are already lining up to see The Avengers. And this weekend is all about that film. The biggest movies of the year are all lined up and ready to go, and though the summer is going to start big, there’s a lot of question mark films coming out that could go either way in terms of quality and success. It’s going to be a fun ride.

So let’s do this weekend’s numbers, shall we?

  1. Think Like a Man - $17.3 Million
  2. The Five Year Engagement – $15 Million
  3. The Lucky One – $13.5 Million
  4. The Pirates! Band of Misfits – $13 Million
  5. The Raven – $9.5 Million

Pirates is the big question mark as kids films don’t track, and I don’t watch Nickelodeon, so I have no idea if the film has found its audience.

What are you going to watch this weekend?