Alien invasion, it's not for everybody.
It sure is working for Sony, which will release its PG-13-rated Battle: Los Angeles into over 3,300 theaters this weekend. The little-green-men thriller, which stars Aaron Eckhart, Avatar's Michelle Rodriguez and a bunch of actors you've never heard of, is expected to lead the box office with more than $30 million this weekend.
That'll be decent coin for Sony, which says it paid about $70 million to make the film about humanity's last stand in LaLa Land. Battle: L.A. -- a mixture of Black Hawk Down and Independence Day, according to my mix-master friends who've seen it -- is not beloved by critics, who have given it a 34 percent score in aggregate on Rotten Tomatoes.
On the other side of the coin, Disney is prepping to take an absolute bath on CG-animated family film Mars Needs Moms, which cost over $150 million to make but doesn't look like it'll crack the $15 million mark this weekend.
The movie was shot using one of Robert Zemeckis's funky motion-capture schemes, which mixes real-life actor motion with computers and isn't a filmmaking technique exactly known for producing the kind of warm, fuzzy images that typically render CG family films hits (see the filmmaker's mega-expensive A Christmas Carol from 2009).
According to "tracking" companies, which interview moviegoers to gauge their knowledge of upcoming films and their intent to see them, only 3% of people surveyed say Mars Needs Moms is the movie they want to see most (it's 16% for Battle: L.A.). The film is expected to take in only around $10 million this weekend, which won't help your Disney stock if you own any.
Meanwhile, arriving in theaters with the wolf a bit further away from its door, Warner's Red Riding Hood stars Amanda Seyfried as its source material's intrepid forest adventurer. Former Big Love and Dear John star Seyfried has the track record of an up and coming box-office star, but barirng a fairy tale ending this weekend, this movie won't be a breakout hit … although it won't be a miss either. The $42 million movie is expected to gross just under $20 million this weekend.
Holding strong, meanwhile, will likely be Johnny Depp CG film Rango, which seems to be catching buzz more with adults than with kids. The Paramount movie should gross more than $20 million in its second weekend.
Besides the individual performances, box office watchers will be tuned into to see if the overall weekend will be up year-over-year -- a situation that has only happened once this year at suddenly slumping domestic multiplexes. The number to beat this weekend is the $135.7 million made in the second weekend of March last year, when Alice in Wonderland was in its second week.
Tip: Put your money on the under -- Battle: L.A. can't save the movie business, either.
Here's how we think the box office will shape up this weekend:
|Battle: Los Angeles || We say: $30M|
|Rango ||We say: $22.0M|
| Red Riding Hood ||We say: $18.0M|
|Mars Needs Moms || We say: $13.0|
|The Adjustment Bureau ||We say: $12.0M|
|Hall Pass || We say: $6.0M|
|Beastly || We say: $4.5M|
| Gnomeo & Juliet ||We say: $3.5M|
| The King's Speech ||We say: $3.0M|
|Just Go With It || We say: $3.0M|