What's harder than releasing a movie on Super Bowl weekend, when more than 100 million Americans are watching football on TV instead of buying movie tickets?
Try doing it in the middle of an ice storm -- a wide-spread natural calamity that shut down more than 400 theaters earlier in the week. But hey, as any quarterback worth his Super Bowl ring will tell you, sometimes you have to play through bad weather.
Sony, which is releasing the Leighton Meester film The Roommate into 2,534 theaters this weekend, thinks it has a pretty good game plan.
It certainly worked last year.
With the male audience pre-occupied for last year's Super Bowl, Sony released the Amanda Seyfried chick flick Dear John to a whopping $30.5 million --- a performance that finally toppled Avatar from the No. 1 spot at the box office.
With the "hyper-targeted" Roommate -- movie biz speak, meaning, in this case, that the studio is trying to fill the seats with young women -- Sony thinks it can repeat the phenomenon.
As for plot, by all accounts, what you see is what you get with this film, which is an update of the 1992 thriller Single White Female, with Gossip Girl star Meester playing Jennifer Jason Leigh's crazy girl, and Minka Kelly playing the oh-god-what-have-I-got-myself-into character played by Bridget Fonda.
There are no reviews for this low-budget (real low at $8 million) thriller, since the studio didn't screen it. But it's expected to lead the box office with about $18 million in weekend receipts.
"It'll be a standing feature at slumber parties for years to come," said an executive at a Sony-rival studio, who described the movie as "so bad, it's good."
The weekend will also feature the wide release of the James Cameron-produced 3D film Sanctum.
Now, being a bit of a claustrophobic, the under-water-cave-thriller genre has never appealed to me personally.
And certainly, based on the pre-release projections, this ain't no Avatar, with weekend estimates not even cracking the $10 million mark -- a threshold Avatar routinely passed every two hours during its epic run.
But the ambitions are far fewer with Sanctum, which capitalizes on the production infrastructure that was already used to make Avatar.
Throw in a no-name cast, and Universal and Relativity -- which are releasing Sanctum in 2,789 theaters -- have themselves a pretty cheap movie.
Here's how we think the upcoming weekend box office will shake out:
| The Roommate || We say: $18.0M|
| Sanctum ||We say: $11.0M|
| The King’s Speech || We say: $9.0M|
| No Strings Attached ||We say: $8.0M|
| The Green Hornet || We say: $7.0M|
| The Rite || We say: $5.5M|
| The Mechanic ||We say: $5.0M|
| True Grit ||We say: $4.5M|
|Black Swan || We say: $3.5M|
| The Dilemma ||We say: $3.0M|