The last time I went to the San Diego Comic-con, I remember walking out with Chud-alum Dave Davis. He turned to me and said “So, do you like comic books?” I said “not really.” He replied “Then this must really suck for you.” I haven’t been back since.



WAITING FOR THE MAGIC TO HAPPEN

Though there are two new releases this week, and we should be inundated with Comic-con reports and reviews (Scott Pilgrim screened Thursday night), everything – box office-wise – is all about how Inception plays this weekend. Mathematically, it looks like this:

- 60% Drop or more: $25 Million or less. This seems highly unlikely for two reasons, one is that people like the movie, the other is that the weekday numbers suggests there’s still an audience outside of opening weekend. This number means that the film would likely stop around $150-$170 Million.

- 50% Drop: $31 Million. This might be closer to the truth. For a summer blockbuster a 50% drop or around that is fairly standard with so much business drawn toward opening weekend, but then this isn’t a sequel, and there isn’t as much instant word of mouth as is often suggested. This means it could limp to $200 Million, but would likely fall short.

- 40% Drop: $38 Million. This number is closer to a phenomenon number. It suggests that people are going back, and that business is steady. It will also mean the film will leave the weekend around $140. The big ticket titles are done, so as long as the film coasts, it could do over $200 Million easily at this point, though perhaps closer to $220 Million than anything more.

- 30% Drop or less: $44 Million or more. Anything less than this, and we don’t know exactly what we’re going to see from the title. A 30% drop – which is what I’d expect – suggests that the film is outside of the standard marketing paradigm.

How deep the rabbit hole goes is unknown because it does have titles to contend with, unlike Avatar in its mostly January/February run. That Avatar could outperform a title like Daybreakers is without question. By the time of The Expendables/Eat, Pray, Love/Scott Pilgrim, which covers the bases of most interests, Inception should be on the road to wrapping up and that’s only three weekends away. Fortunately for them this weekend is reasonably weak, and though Salt interest has grown, it’s still looking at a $40 Million ceiling. The last weekend of July is also looking pathetic, so it’s possible that Inception could hold the top spot for three weekends and be over $200 by the time we get to Step Up 3-D and The Other Guys. It all depends on what we’re looking at, which ties neatly into the film itself. I know people who’ve already seen it twice, but I know nerds. Will this catch on like that, or will people wait for video? I don’t know, but then also will the spoilers give incentives to those who want to experience it for themselves? I know this: I will watch with great interest.

TO ALL THE PREDICTIONS IN THE PLACE WITH STYLE AND GRACE

Salt is a new film, and it may succeed more as an action film than a Angelina Jolie movie. Ramona and Beezus continues Fox’s off summer. And Inception should take the weekend.

1. Inception - $42.5 Million
2. Salt - $37 Million
3. Despicable Me - $20 Million
4. Ramona and Beezus - 9.7 Million
5. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice - $8.5 Million

Don’t be surprised if I’m going high on Inception or Salt or – for that matter – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. But I’m like that, and that’s the way it is.