Box Office Outlook: Need for Speed
Need for Speed poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published March 13, 2014
I wouldnít be surprised if it lands a $9 million first day gross and ends up nearing a $30 million weekend.
Aaron Paul makes his grand transition from supporting bad-ass player on televisionís Breaking Bad to leading man bad-ass player in Need for Speed and all signs are pointing to a successful follow through. The movie looks like Fast and the Furious without the ensemble cast and without the summer release, and it should have no problem earning at least half the amount of the $40 million debut of Furious. When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I predicted a $10 million weekend, but as time passed by and the commercials made their rounds, I doubled that forecast. First I thought it looked horrible and I didnít see broad mainstream success in its future, but the more I saw footage of it and the more I analyzed it, it has money-shots that are going to sell and Paul happens to have strong appeal amongst young people because of Breaking Bad and itís going to attract diversely. Heís no Vin Diesel in terms of muscle and dynamite-sounding marketing names but thatís probably going to be one of few factors that keep this movie from reaching the original heights of that franchise.

Aaron Paul may be white, just like Vin Diesel, but I see the movie having strong appeal amongst blacks and Hispanics just as much as it should have with whites and Asians which is going to open this movie. I can picture different theaters on opening night between white and Asian populations versus black and Hispanic populations, and I can imagine all ethnicities being interested in this street-racing thriller. Itís a popcorn action movie that looks like it has a paper-thin plot but its audience just wants to have thrills. Itís also based on a video game and I see the setup of a young rebel being released from prison and racing cars being a bad-ass-sounding night out at the movies for people who just want to escape. The target audience isnít going to be there for the quality of its story; itís all going to be the racing scenes.

People who are too afraid to race cars on the streets because of potential injury or death are going to be excited for this idea, and the casting of Paul is excellent because of his rough-sounding voice and leading man potential. Breaking Bad was a phenomenal success and didnít end that long ago and the timing is perfect. The movie is also PG-13 as opposed to R, which means high school kids wonít have a problem getting in. This is the kind of movie theyíre going to be itching to see once high school gets out on its opening day. That demographic is one of the most lucrative audiences on the board because they desperately want entertainment thatís going to get them as far away from the idea of school and logic as humanly possible. I remember seeing the first Furious movie in the very early afternoon on the first day and being blown away at the high quantity of high school students who had seemed to ditch afternoon classes to see the flick. It looked like lots of students went off for lunch break and then just didnít come back after their lunch hour. Need for Speed probably wonít turn in such robust attendance in comparison but the comparison is there.

I see an opening day tally of $7.5 million from 3,115 theaters being the floor and reaching $10 million isnít out of the question. It has production value thatís going to be seen as cool and the stunts are going to be an attraction even if it doesnít reach the epic material from Fast and the Furious. Had it featured an ensemble cast and more daring footage, the movie would be well on its way to $10+ Friday. The audience isnít going to care how formulaic or conventional the concept is as long as the movieís fun. Itís been marketed very solidly and I have a really hard time seeing this movie open to under $20 million. Especially if itís throwaway garbage from the thinking-crowdís perspective, I can see a debut of $25 - 30 million. The critics are probably not going to be impressed but casual action-movie crowds are extremely different. This audience doesnít want to analyze an experience and just wants bad-ass looking scenes to take them away from reality. I wouldnít be surprised if it lands a $9 million first day gross and ends up nearing a $30 million weekend. The movie will probably be frontloaded after the first weekend unless it happens to be a great ride for all, which means the chances of reaching $100 million arenít great but it should have no problem clearing $75 million.
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'Need for Speed' Articles
  • Lee's Need for Speed review D+
    March 16, 2014    Fans of {Aaron Paul} are going to be sorely disappointed at just how dumb, lame, and worthless this happens to be. -- Lee Tistaert
  • Craig's Need for Speed review D+
    March 15, 2014    The movie lives up to the fast-car/slow-brain mantra but some of this stuff is so over the top that all you can do is laugh at it. -- Craig Younkin
  • Early Crowd Report Analysis
    March 14, 2014    Friday night shows are empty so far which feels like a bad sign but it could end up being a walk-up-and-buy movie in which its audience doesnít purchase in advance. -- Lee Tistaert