JoBlo.com's Box-Office Predictions! (January 20-22)

It's always fascinating to observe the box office competition, the bloody Hollywood gladiatorial clash. To cheer for champions and underdogs, to speculate on tactics, or to hail the demise of the dreadful. And, of course, to witness the weekly reminders that success (or failure) isn't always an indicator of quality.

All through the week, JoBlo.com delivers news, reviews, rumors and opinions on everything about the movies. But when the weekend arrives, eyeballs tend to fall on the business side of show business to see how those all-important numbers tally.

Vampires, assassins, historical heroes and Oscar winners at the theaters this weekend give you plenty of options.

After sitting out the prequel UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS, Kate Beckinsale is back in the skintight leather for more fangs and bullets in UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING, which should hit the bullseye at the top of the chart. Each of the three previous entries in the curiously irrepressible UNDERWORLD series have opened to more than $20 million, and the latest has the brand recognition and recent overall business bump to hit around that number.

George Lucas has been making the interview rounds to promote his long-in-the-works WWII project RED TAILS, but who knows if that'll help? Everyone knows STAR WARS, but the OT fans tend to cringe when words actually spill from the filmmaker's mouth now, and any further goodwill toward his latest production could disintegrate with every new defense of nuked fridges and digital beings. Lucas does have a salient point, though: the story of the Tuskegee Airmen deserves to be told (to those who missed the HBO movie) and the subject matter and the universe-creator's name could be enough to counteract the bad early reviews...

Steven Soderbergh's HAYWIRE allows Gina Carano to pound nine kinds of crap out of a collection of gifted actors. I don't know if Carano is a big enough MMA star to draw that crowd in any substantial number, and the movie might otherwise have to fight for eyeballs -- the distribution was bounced all over the schedule, and now it has to throw down with a well-known bloodsucker series. Still, it could end up being a TAKEN-style breakout for those seeking a non-supernatural adrenaline injection (with an arthouse sensibility), but the second week of Mark Wahlberg's CONTRABAND will probably give Gina a good fight.

EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE goes wide onto more than 2500 screens, but even with an Oscar-winning cast (Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock), bestseller origin and emotion-manipulating 9/11 aftermath story, the movie seems to have a shocking lack of awareness, interest or awards love. The actors alone should attract an audience and maybe $10M, but the heavy subject matter could have a hard time competing with the escapist alternatives.

Additionally, THE ARTIST expands on 660 screens, and while it will take advantage of awards inertia to crack the Top 10, the numbers probably won't push it too much further up the chart than other recent buzz movies like THE IRON LADY and TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY on their first weekend on a similar screen count. And although the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST reissue isn't a LION KING sized smash for Disney, it's pretty much the only high-profile option for families left on a marquee of adult-aimed entertainment, which should give it decent placement in its second weekend.  


My crack at the Top 5:

2. RED TAILS - $15M
4. HAYWIRE - $13M



Source: JoBlo.com



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