This weekend will see the arrival of "Sinister," "Here Comes the Boom" and Ben Affleck's critically acclaimed "Argo," but industry experts predicted moviegoers will still be "taken" with a certain 60-year-old, Oscar-nominated Irishman.
"Let's just get this out of the way: No one is gonna knock Liam 'Lockdown' Neeson and 'Taken 2' from the top spot at the box office this weekend," Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock told MTV News. "With a dynamo debut of $49 million, expect a second weekend gross on part with the first weekend of 'Expendables 2.'"
The projected staying power of "Taken 2" and the influx of new films should continue the box office's overall upswing.
Bock said "Taken 2" could gross as much as $26 million, with Affleck's third directorial outing, "Argo," locked in a close battle with Adam Sandler's animated "Hotel Transylvania" for the #2 spot. Sandler's buddy Kevin James, who voices Frankenstein in "Transylvania," should slide in to the #4 spot with his MMA-themed comedy "Here Comes the Boom."
"Warner Bros. is rolling out 'Argo' into 3,232 theaters -- the most ever for a film under Affleck's watch," Bock pointed out. "Two years ago, 'The Town' hit hard with $23 million in mid-September and saw that film punch up close to $100 million."
MovieFanatic.com Managing Editor Joel Amos is one of the many industry watchers who loved "Argo," which is set during the Iran hostage crisis of the 1970s. " 'Argo' is a fantastic movie and immediately goes to the front of the Oscar Best Picture nominee list," he predicted. "Audiences are hungry for good cinema and it doesn't come any better this weekend."
Bock predicted $18 million for "Argo" and about the same for "Hotel Transylvania," which will make it the first film of the fall season to pass the $100 million mark. "Here Comes the Boom" shouldn't be far behind with about $17 million.
"Even at James' worst as a headliner -- the bro-mantic comedy "The Dilemma" -- he's never had a film debut lower than $17 million," noted Bock. "So ponder that as Sony drops 'Here Comes the Boom' onto 3,014 multiplex mats this weekend." James' latest comedy is boasting much better reviews than "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" or "The Zookeeper," which made a combined $350 million worldwide.
It is October, which means it's not impossible for a scary movie to creep up and steal everyone else's thunder. Bock called "Sinister" the weekend's dark horse, though Lionsgate's R-rated chiller will only have a six-day jump on Paramount's "Paranormal Activity 4." "In 2,527 theaters, look for a $15 million debut," Bock said. "But don't be surprised if it gets a box office bump during the night."
"Seven Psychopaths" will also be new in theaters this weekend, but it will be available in less than half the theaters as "Argo." "Despite the fact that 'Seven Psychopaths' is actually 94 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes right now, don't expect anyone but cinephile fanboys and the college crowd to turn up for the R-rated crime comedy," cautioned Bock. He went on to point out that Irish director Martin McDonagh also helmed the critically acclaimed '"In Bruges," "a film that everyone said they loved, but no one actually saw, as it grossed just $7.8 million."
Where "Psychopaths" will find an audience with cinephiles, "Atlas Shrugged II" should do some sort of business with diehard fans of novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand. The sequel comes just a year after the original and should do about $3 million on 1,012 screens.