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Hong Kong: September 8 Predictions
Rank Name Prediction % Change
1  Contagion $430,000  
2  One Day $275,000  
3  Love in Space $200,000  
4  Overheard 2 $182,160 -54%
5  Midnight in Paris $110,000  

The 2nd weekend of fall will be a very busy weekend as 4 out of the 5 new openers are expected to land in the top 5 with each grossing more than $100,000. Leading the way will be Contagion. The viral thriller is vying to attract moviegoers that want an action-packed thriller and is sprinkled with shots of Hong Kong. It will be the only release that won't have much in the way of direct competition as the other 3 big openers this week are all movies dealing with love and relationships. Pre-sales for Thursday, however, have this way behind One Day, behind Love in Space and in some cases Overheard 2 and Midnight in Paris. Friday, however, is a different story as it has managed to turn around its plight and is well out in front of all other releases. Case in point, one theater has Friday outselling its Thursday admissions by a multiplier of 13! The interesting thing here is how people will react to seeing Hong Kong as another epicenter for an outbreak. The SARS scare was a dead time for theaters as many decided to stay home and some people do not want to relive those memories again through this movie. That coupled with the reemergence of H5N1 just in time for the fall season may lead some viewers to stay away. Contagion opening at #1 is by no means assured but no direct competition plus the scheduling of it in the biggest and the most theaters makes me believe this will take the weekend even with weak pre-selling. IMAX presales do not look good at all and so far it's been worse than Cowboy & Aliens' opening weekend IMAX takings. With summer weekdays over, it's slightly harder to predict opening weekends based on Thursday and Friday pre-sales but this seems like a movie made for the weekend. A lot of the movie is riding on starpower alone and ultimately, that with the Hong Kong setting will bring people in on Saturday and Sunday to snatch the weekend. $430,000 for the weekend would be just slightly better than Cowboys & Aliens' opening weekend but while that was frontloaded, this should build momentum throughout the weekend as the other openers won't be able to keep up with it. Weekends after will be fairly tough with a number of releases coming out on the September 15, 22 and 29 weekends and good holds are not expected due to some competition on the 22 with Colombiana and the 29 with Johnny English Reborn being released.

One Day will lead all romance openers this weekend as the movie is based on the best-selling novel by David Nicholls. Due to the book's popularity, One Day will see heavy pre-selling on Thursday but should gradually fade on Friday/Saturday/Sunday as most of the book's fans will rush out and catch it on opening day. Pre-selling for Thursday has this wildly ahead of all releases but Friday has seen it pulled back into the fray with the others. Surprisingly, this has not been getting showtimes at some theaters so its chances of winning #1 for the weekend are lowered due to this setback. Its hot preselling on Thursday has made me think that this will pull ahead of Larry Crowne's opening weekend by just a hair. It should mostly cater to the book's fanatics as most of the general public will not be watching a romance movie let alone a poorly reviewed one. While the poor reviews will set it back, it is the book's fanatics that will push it to a strong #2 opening of about $275,000. That would be a relatively good start for the novel considering it is up against 2 other romance films.

The duo responsible for the hit Hot Summer Days is back with their new rom-com Love in Space. Directors Wing Shya and Tony Chan return in this ensemble piece about a mother and her three grown up daughters as they each try to find love. Aaron Kwok, Eason Chan and Rene Liu will bring the starpower as the two directors hope that fans of the first one will come back a second time. It won't have as much starpower as the first one though considering that one shuffled through 5 different couples in love but less people means tighter storylines. Preselling has been slow but because this has been getting an ultra-wide release, I expect this to do about $200,000. It will need good walk-ins though to achieve the number because pre-selling has not been cutting it so far.

Overheard 2 will be the lone holdover of the top 5. After spending 3 weeks at #1, It will most likely drop out of the top 3 given the other 3's advantages. Theaters have been fairly forgiving even with the new releases as it has managed to secure the last primetime slot for Thursday and Friday. Preselling has looked unconvincing for both days but as they say before "it's not how you start but how you finish" and Overheard 2 has a great finishing kick with tremendous walk-in support. Even though it has been downsized fairly heavily, Overheard 2 should still come away with a nice 4th weekend total and not a bad drop either. -54% translates to about $180,000 for the weekend and $2,880,000 in 25 days. 3m will happen although I am not sure if it will be able to reach X-Men: First Class's total. It would need to have a good hold this weekend for it to even have a shot.

Midnight in Paris is Woody Allen's follow-up to "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" which turned a low-key performance after it finished its run here with $57,438 playing in limited release. Meanwhile, Midnight in Paris will make more than Dark Stranger's total opening weekend with its wide release of more than 10 theaters. This has been getting pretty good pre-selling and I think this will be the general public's choice this weekend over One Day. While One Day has the big advantage with a built-in fanbase, this will have to do things the hard way with strong WOM and reviews to push it to a solid opening. The two latest Woody Allen films haven't done much here with each grossing less than $100,000 but this could open on par with Vicky Cristina Barcelona which opened with $114,517 for a solid $7,157 PSA. It will have direct competition from the other 2 films and because those are being given wide releases, this will have its work cut out for it to break into the marketplace. The general Paris setting as well as having some recognizable stars like Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates and Rachel McAdams will surely rope in moviegoers. The extra promotion for Marion Cotillard with Contagion also doesn't hurt. $110,000 is a good opening for a Woody Allen film here.

Horrible Bosses will have to settle for outside the top 5 as new releases have forced theaters to cut showtimes for all holdovers. This will still be getting 1 or 2 showtimes a day at most theaters but the peak showtimes are being given to other films. The loss of some theaters will hurt but it should pick up with walk-ins especially since it doesn't have primetime showings at most places. $90,000 is a 53% drop from last weekend and it would move Bosses' total up to $703,000.

Treasure Hunt is Cecilia Cheung's first role since the split from Nicholas Tse. It will also be the first role for Tse and Cheung's oldest son Lucas whose role was the subject of much public scrutiny. Box office wise, this won't go anywhere near the top 5. While it has been given a wide release, it will be getting only a few showtimes per day as theater owners believe this won't do much amid the controversy surrounding Cecilia's breakup and other family-related affairs. As the marketplace is saturated with love-themed movies, director Wong Jing hopes this screwball comedy will work in his favour once again. Weak pre-selling is counteracting that and I think anything over $75,000 is extremely unlikely. A $55,000 start would be poor given the number of locations showing this movie.

Cowboys & Aliens is getting the heave-ho as theaters are cutting this after extremely poor sales and with new releases coming out. All Broadway, UA and AMC theaters are cutting this while a few other locations are giving this one showtime per day. I think this will drop in the 90% range and it will finish with about $750,000, a very disappointing total given the hype and IMAX release.

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