Zac Efron, The Lucky One
At no. 2 this weekend, The Lucky One is expected to take in $25 million (up from an estimated $22 million a few hours ago) after collecting $8.8 million at 3,115 sites (about 1,000 more than Think Like a Man) on Friday according to estimates found at Deadline.com. Taylor Schilling, probably best known as the leading lady in the nearly universally panned film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: Part 1, plays Zac Efron’s love interest in this nearly universally panned adaptation of Nicholas Sparks‘ romantic novel. (This may sound bad for Schilling, but it’s not. The Lucky One was a smart, high-profile career move following the Atlas Shrugged critical and box-office disaster.)
The Lucky One has a mere 16% approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics — Think Like a Man is an instant classic by comparison. Yet, even after adjusting for inflation, if Deadline’s estimates are correct, The Lucky One will end up ahead of both Ryan Gosling / Rachel McAdams‘ The Notebook (2004, approximately $17 million in 2012 dollars) and Miley Cyrus / Liam Hemsworth’s The Last Song (2010, $25.3 million after five days; it opened on a Wed.).
Now, The Lucky One is noticeably behind Channing Tatum / Amanda Seyfried’s Dear John (2010), which opened with $30.4 million, and slightly behind Kevin Costner / Robin Wright’s Message in a Bottle (1999), which opened with approx. $26 million in 2012 dollars. Important point: both of the aforementioned romantic melodramas were released in time for the box-office-boosting Valentine’s Day. The Lucky One had no such advantage.
It’s also worth noting that Nicholas Sparks novels may be good — though not necessarily great — business for US / Canada movie distributors and exhibitors, but it’s considerably less so overseas. The Notebook, The Last Song, and Shane West / Mandy Moore’s A Walk to Remember (2002) all performed two to close-to-three times better in North America than overseas. Richard Gere / Diane Lane’s Nights in Rodanthe earned about the same — a so-so $41-$42 million — domestically and abroad, while Message in a Bottle, thanks to the presence of Kevin Costner and Paul Newman in a supporting role, was an exception to the rule, grossing about 20% more overseas than in the US / Canada.
Directed by Oscar nominee Scott Hicks (Shine) and adapted by Will Fetters (of another romantic melodrama, Robert Pattinson’s Remember Me), The Lucky One features Blythe Danner, Riley Thomas Stewart, Jay R. Ferguson, Robert Hayes, and Joe Chrest in supporting roles.
At no. 4, DisneyNature’s Chimpanzee may collect $10.5 million by Sunday evening after scoring $3.4 million at 1,563 locations on Friday. For comparison’s sake, both Oceans and African Cats grossed around $6 million over their debut weekends.
Rounding out the top five is Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly’s The Three Stooges, which should be down more than 50% from last weekend. Starring Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, and Chris Diamantopoulos, the comedy is expected to draw $8.4 million after earning an estimated $2.4 million on Friday.
Remember, those are early, rough Friday estimates. Official studio estimates will be released Saturday morning; weekend estimates come out on Sunday. Box-office actuals will be released on Monday.
Zac Efron / The Lucky One: Warner Bros.