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HK: February 23 Predictions
Rank Movie Title Prediction % Change
1  Hugo $650,000  
2  Underworld: Awakening $530,000  
3  Safe House $230,000  
4  Love $160,000  
5  Mr. & Mrs. Gambler $150,000 -53%

The most interesting battle this month takes place the last weekend of February as Hugo battles Underworld: Awakening. While Hugo has been delayed by scheduling issues, Underworld has its own set of problems that it will have to face. Hugo's timing just before the Oscars could give its box office a surprising lift but its delays with release dates don't do it any favours. It was originally set for release last weekend but Paramount decided to push it back one week in order to take advantage of any Oscar bump. It enters a fairly empty marketplace with Star Wars, Journey 2 fading and great reviews combined with the Oscar effect may just push it into top spot. It will need some help as its runtime is long for a children's movie and will be its downfall should it lose to Underworld by mere ten thousands. As 3D is very popular in Hong Kong, the great reviews about the 3D effect will have a positive impact on its admissions and gross. Martin Scorsese is not a big draw but he does have a small fanbase. Entering with a very wide release, Hugo could take in about $650,000, making it Martin Scorsese's best opening in Hong Kong.

Underworld: Awakening is the fourth film of the franchise but early reactions about the film are not about the quality of the fourth film but by what category rating it got. It received a category III rating (equivalent to a NC-17 rating in US) and is the 2nd film in the franchise to be slapped with the adult rating. The rating limits its box office potential and will counteract its short running time and 3D prices. The only other film to receive a III rating for the Underworld saga was Rise of the Lycans (the 2nd one) which opened to $248,899 for the 7-day week. While this rating sets Awakening back a few, the great news is that the Underworld franchise has gained in every subsequent opening weekend. Combine that with the 3D rating and short running time and all signs are pointing to a strong increase from Evolution. Vampires are not as popular in Hong Kong like with other Asian territories as even the Twilight series has been hanging around in the 2m range, well behind other Asian markets so a breakout is unexpected at this time. Evolution opened to $432,000 for the 7-day and Awakening is most likely going to pass that in its opening weekend. It also gets the IMAX treatment so it will bolster profits and puts it into contention with Hugo for the weekend. $530,000 seems about right given the 3D prices, very wide release, running time and expansion of the franchise along with its III rating.

Safe House is this weekend's other Hollywood wide release. The Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds action thriller will play to action fans but the gluttony of action films will hamper its opening weekend prospects. Already this month, we've seen 4 action films in Haywire, Chronicle, Contraband and last weekend's winner This Means War. Adding another to the list severely dries up any potential increases. Denzel Washington's last 2 films took in more than $300,000 respectively on their opening weekends but that will be very hard to match with 4 wide releases out and theaters committed to the top 2 movies. A weekend of just $230,000 might have to do.

Love got an early head start on Valentine's Day to shore up its opening weekend and get people to tell their friends about this movie but it looks like it has done the opposite. Opening wide-very wide this weekend, the Putonghua movie suffered a large blow last Tuesday when it didn't even rank in the top 5 in admissions. Showings were about 60-70% full which was OK but for a gimmicky holiday like Valentine's, it doesn't exactly scream confidence and good projections for its opening weekend. A start of $160,000 would be terrible and its total might be somewhere in the $180,000 range.

The weekend's lone holdover in the top 5, Mr. & Mrs. Gambler had a surprising opening and its gain over This Means War during opening weekend bodes well for its 2nd weekend. Admissions looked very strong on Saturday and Sunday so it gets the nod over This Means War for 5th spot. While This Means War will suffer against new action competition, Mr. & Mrs. Gambler might slip away relatively unscathed. It does face Love in its 2nd weekend but after Love's poor start on Valentine's Day, Mr. & Mrs. Gambler could enjoy a better than expected hold. Another $150,000 will see its cume grow to over $550,000.

This Means War will be right behind Mr. & Mrs. Gambler but bad reviews, another action thriller and strong openers will see its ranking plummet from 1st to 6th. Its admissions petered out on its opening Sunday, falling 15% from Saturday. The decline indicates that it'll see a strong decrease over 60% this weekend. With Safe House opening and Hugo/Underworld: Awakening fighting for top spot, This Means War is now yesterday's news. A -67% dive is $140,000 for its 2nd weekend and it will get close to $700,000 for its 11-day total.

The Artist makes its silent debut in Hong Kong this weekend. It opened ahead of its release date on Valentine's Day to capture some hapless romantics in to catch the movie. It had a unspectacular start and did not place in the top 5 for Valentine's. This played well in the business district but rural areas avoided this for the most part. Opening semi-wide, The Artist could open with $80,000 for a total of $85,000.

Ryan Reynold's second feature film this week comes from 2010 as the arthouse hit Buried makes a surprise entrance into Hong Kong. Although this is getting a lot of feedback online, I cannot see people lining up to see this. Several problems arise from releasing this movie. The movie is not only almost 2 years old but Ryan Reynolds isn't known for great acting so its not going to attract the mainstream audience or for that matter the arthouse audience. Mainstream audiences will spend their time on other movies like Underworld 4 or Hugo while arthouse fans will be busy with recent Oscar releases including Moneyball, My Week with Marilyn, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and The Artist. I am not sure how many theaters this will book but a weekend below $25,000 is likely. If it is only released in the two arthouse theaters then I see something like $10,000.

Still not done, the boxing drama Warrior finally makes its way to Hong Kong on Friday. After a delay of 4 months, it finally heads to limited release. Gross will be scarce as moviegoers will be infatuated with other releases. A weekend of only $6,000 will have to make do given the late release and Friday opening.

The Help, Midnight in Paris and The Tree of Life are all getting re-released this weekend ahead of the Oscars. The Help and Midnight in Paris looks to be benefiting the most so I see a weekend of $9,000 for both while The Tree of Life could come away with $7,500.

For more information about this week or any other, visit this thread.

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