‘Spring Breakers’: Could It Become First Surprise Hit of 2013?

Movie Talk
From left: James Franco, Rachel Korine, Ashley Benson and Vanessa Hudgens
From left: James Franco, Rachel Korine, Ashley Benson and Vanessa Hudgens

It's an indie film about a group of wild, partying, bored-out-of-their-skulls college girls robbing a fast food joint to fund their spring break bender… and then some. And it passed its first box-office test over the weekend with flying colors.

Fresh off some major South by Southwest buzz, "Spring Breakers" raked in $270,000 from just three theaters in New York and Los Angeles in its very limited opening.

Directed by Harmony Korine ("Gummo") and starring former Disney darlings Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez -- along with an unforgettable performance from James Franco, Ashley Benson ("Pretty Little Liars") and the director's wife, Rachel Korine -- "Spring Breakers" goes from debauched to downright deadly as the out-of-towner girls find themselves getting bailed out of jail by Franco's flamboyant thug with shiny grills and a taste for money and guns.

'Spring Breakers'
'Spring Breakers'

This weekend ushers in the film's biggest test yet as it opens wide in more than 1,000 theaters. "Despite mixed reviews, it has managed to be the 'must-see' film of the moment," Hollywood.com box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian told Yahoo! Movies. "We will have to see if that translates into mainstream interest that will propel it to solid returns in wide release."

Dergarabedian called "Spring Breakers" a "strange hybrid," mixing an indie director with major stars. "The buzz generated by this strong limited opening may turn out to be the best thing that happened to the film," he said.

When it comes to the actual numbers, Doug Stone of Box Office Analyst told Yahoo! Movies he is projecting "Spring Breakers" will make anywhere from $10 million to $15 million, assuming it opens in 2,000 theaters. "If the film goes with maybe 1,200 to 1,500 runs, probably more like $7 to $10 million,” he estimated.

What could have been the latest box office casualty will now “debut in wide release with an extra boost of positive publicity,” said Dergarabedian.

But one thing standing in “Spring Breakers” way from being a runaway sleeper hit, both analysts told Yahoo! Movies: Its R rating. R-rated films with gunplay haven’t generally brought in box office bucks this year so far. “However, ‘Spring Breakers’ boasts a young and hot (mostly female) cast that may transcend the genre; drawing men for obvious reasons, but also female moviegoers who have driven the box office success of the very few hits we have actually had this year,” said Dergarbedian.

Counting this past weekend’s earnings, the film has already made more than $3 million and looks on track to at least triple that by Sunday. Perhaps not quite in sleeper-hit territory but positioned to make a more-than-solid return on its small $2 million budget.

Watch 'Spring Breakers' Clip -- Chauffeur:

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