This weekend Hollywood just doesn’t know its limits. Six new releases will jam into an already crowded marketplace on Friday trying to connect with spring moviegoers.
That makes for a whopping 20 new films over a four-week ultracompetitive period. This weekend’s ticket buyers will not have enough time or money to see them all, especially in a relatively weak playing period like mid-April. Friday the 13th may indeed be a terrifying day for the accountants behind some of these freshman flicks.
Call it "Catwoman" vs. "Hudson Hawk." Sony unleashes its latest star-driven thriller "Perfect Stranger" which finds Halle Berry playing an investigative reporter following an ad mogul (Bruce Willis) who may have killed her friend. The R-rated pic boasts the most star wattage of any new film this weekend and that will mean something at the cash registers. The actor combo is unique, appealing, and diverse enough to bring in two different audiences which is always good for business. Poor reviews probably won’t mean too much to the box office. Sony’s marketing push has been commendable and with Spartans, Ninja Turtles, and figure skaters ruling the charts over the last five weeks, many moviegoers will be ready to shift over to this type of film. "Perfect Stranger" invades 2,661 theaters and stands a chance of hitting number one with around $15M.
Paramount counters with its own thriller this Friday the 13th with "Disturbia." With a more teen-friendly PG-13 rating, the pic tells the tale of a young man under house arrest who suspects that his neighbor is a serial killer. Shia LaBeouf, Carrie-Anne Moss, and David Morse make up the cast so clearly the film is not being sold on its starpower. "Perfect Stranger" will provide some healthy competition as those looking for a scare, and are 17 or older, will find Berry and Willis worth paying money for. But young teens that have already skated with Will Ferrell may look here for their weekly escape to the movies. Entering about 2,500 theaters, "Disturbia" could scare up around $10M over the weekend.
Rookie distributor Chicago Releasing drives into theaters with its maiden film "Redline," an action drama about bored rich kids who drag race for fun. The PG-13 film is being aimed at teenage boys and young men with action-packed commercials and trailers full of hot cars and hotter babes. Eddie Griffin is the only major star in this vehicle so only those who really crave another "Fast and the Furious" flick will make it out. But in a weekend when most new films have been slapped with an R, this one could carve out a small audience of teens. Racing into about 2,000 theaters, "Redline" might finish with roughly $7M this weekend.
With all the films thrown into theaters this year, nobody has offered up a handy dandy Viking flick. That changes this weekend with the action-adventure "Pathfinder," an R-rated pic that looks at a young man’s battle against Norse invaders in North America centuries ago. Following the runaway success of "300," it’s no surprise that Fox is marketing "Pathfinder" as a historical war epic based on a graphic novel. But this new film has nothing on Leonidas and pals. The Viking subject matter is not interesting, the marketing push has been weak, and lead actor Karl Urban is no commercial draw. Attacking 1,720 theaters, "Pathfinder" might find only $5M on opening weekend.
Lionsgate goes after an adult audience with its new crime drama "Slow Burn" which stars Ray Liotta, LL Cool J, and Taye Diggs. The R-rated film about a district attorney whose colleague gets tied up in a murder case will go out in a moderate wide release with only a mild marketing push behind it. The starpower is not strong enough to attract a sizable crowd and there is little buzz among movie fans. Opening in 1,163 locations, "Slow Burn" could die a quick death at the multiplexes with a $4M bow.
In a world overstuffed with animated films, First Look Pictures turns the tables and aims at adults with the R-rated toon "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters." Based on the animated series on Cartoon Network, the pic is trying to follow in the footsteps of "Borat" by taking a TV property with a cult following and making a long-titled feature film that pushes the envelope. Even the term ‘Movie Film’ seems taken from the Kazakh journalist. "Aqua Teen" scored some extra publicity with its marketing debacle in Boston several weeks ago, however that will not give the film more mainstream appeal. Only the die hard "Aqua" fans are likely to come out here. Competition is stiff this weekend and with the fewest theaters of the six pack of new flicks, this one could get left behind. Landing in over 800 locations, "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" may collect approximately $4M over three days.
After back to back wins atop the box office charts, "Blades of Glory" will face a fierce challenge this weekend from the new releases. Few have the starpower that the Will Ferrell comedy packs and last weekend’s strong hold suggests that crowds are being pleased. A 35% fall would give "Blades" $14M for the weekend and $89M in 17 days.
"Meet the Robinsons" and "Are We Done Yet?" have no new competition for the family audience so respectable holds are likely here as well. A 35% drop would give the Disney toon about $11M for a 17-day tally of $70M while a 40% decline for the Ice Cube sequel would give Sony around $9M for the sophomore frame and $33M after 12 days.
LAST YEAR Easter weekend saw the arrival of "Scary Movie 4" which commanded a powerful opening grossing $40.2M in its debut. It was the second largest opening in the spoof comedy series and went on to capture $90.7M for The Weinstein Co. The animated blockbuster "Ice Age: The Meltdown" dropped to second place with a still-potent $20M in its third frame followed by the sports comedy "The Benchwarmers" with $9.9M. Disney saw a disappointing debut in fourth with the animated film "The Wild" which took in just $9.7M on its way to $37.4M. "Take the Lead" rounded out the top five with $6.8M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Easter weekend sees four new wide releases hopping into the marketplace aiming to give the spring box office a boost.
Action audiences get The Weinstein Company’s two-for-the-price-of-one special "Grindhouse" while horror fans go for a scare with the religious-themed fright flick "The Reaping" starring Hilary Swank which opens on Thursday. Wednesday saw two competing family films bow – the Ice Cube sequel "Are We Done Yet?" and the pooch pic "Firehouse Dog." With Good Friday being a holiday for many, three-day numbers should reach healthy levels.
Moviegoers with three hours to kill and a love of death and destruction will line up for "Grindhouse," a double feature with separate films directed by indie heroes Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. The R-rated pic includes the former’s road actioner "Death Proof" starring Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson and Rose McGowan while the latter’s zombie flick "Planet Terror" stars McGowan and Freddy Rodriguez. Clearly the primary business will come from the young male fan base that Tarantino and Rodriguez hold dearly. Since there is so much overlap here, the grosses may not grow beyond what they’ve seen with previous hits.
"Grindhouse" has had some flashy marketing which is successfully generating interest. Plus there is starpower behind the cameras. Add in the two-for-one novelty item and the press tour that the cast and directors are on and it’s clear to see that a strong opening weekend will result. Debuts for similar ultraviolent R-rated films from the helmers include $22.1M for 2003’s "Kill Bill Vol. 1," $25.1M for the folowing year’s "Kill Bill Vol. 2," and $29.1M for 2005’s "Sin City." But cutting into "Grindhouse"’s potential will be its length which will force each screen to offer one less showtime per day compared to conventional two-hour films. Reviews have been very positive so the pic may reach a little beyond its core crowd of fan boys. Entering 2,624 theaters on Friday, "Grindhouse" could deliver an opening weekend gross of around $25M.
Following in the footsteps of Jim Carrey and Sandra Bullock from earlier this year, Hilary Swank gives it a go in the world of horror with the new religious-themed chiller "The Reaping." The R-rated film finds the two-time Oscar winner playing a scientist called in to investigate mysterious occurances in a small Louisiana town where locals believe Biblical devastation is on its way. Horror flicks with religious storylines usually connect with audiences and with "The Reaping" timed for an Easter weekend launch, a sizable four-day start is likely. The thriller should skew a bit more female given the protagonist while age-wise, the appeal seems broader than just older teens and young adults.
With the Thursday debut, Warner Bros. is looking to take advantage of the Good Friday holiday which will make Thursday night at the multiplexes seem like a Friday night. A Wednesday bow, which is common for this particular weekend, would have been more risky as bad word-of-mouth from opening day ticket buyers who return to work or school on Thursday would dampen weekend sales. Reviews have not been too pleasant, but the studio deserves credit for actually holding press screenings which nowadays is rare for a horror film. With "Premonition" and "The Hills Have Eyes 2" both fading away into the low single-digit millions this weekend, "The Reaping" is ready to cater to those in the market for a good scare. Warner Bros. attacks 2,501 theaters on Thursday and increases the run to 2,603 on Friday and could register an opening weekend of roughly $14M and $17M over four days.
Rapper-turned-actor Ice Cube conquered the kiddie movie box office two years ago with the surprise hit "Are We There Yet?" which grossed $82.3M becoming the star’s biggest career hit. For the sequel "Are We Done Yet?," Sony has replaced the road comedy element with a story about a family facing all kinds of obstacles fixing up their new house. There debuted to a solid $18.6M in January 2005 against almost no competition for family audiences. "Done" feels like the same dish served up again and has not really excited its target audience. Plus there is much more competition for it to deal with in the marketplace, notably Disney’s "Meet the Robinsons" which offers fresh new entertainment. Cube probably won’t see the same success the second time around but at least the grosses won’t tumble 82% the way they did when he took control of the "XXX" sequel. Now playing in 2,877 theaters, "Are We Done Yet?" could collect about $13M over three days and $16M over five days.
Families not in the mood for some fun with Ice Cube get to try out the boy-and-his-dog drama "Firehouse Dog" from Fox. The PG-rated pic about a celebrity hound that gets lost and later rescued by a firefighting team lacks the starpower and marketing muscle needed to deliver a strong opening. Between "Are We Done Yet?," "Meet the Robinsons," and even "TMNT," kids have enough choices this Easter weekend and will probably wait for "Firehouse Dog" on DVD. Bowing in 2,566 sites, the family film could open with about $7M over three days and $9M over five days.
Among holdovers, the Will Ferrell comedy "Blades of Glory" looks to lose its spot at the top of the box office, but should still deliver a solid sophomore spin. The comedian’s summer hits "Talladega Nights" and "Anchorman" both dropped by more than 50% in their second weekends. "Blades" has the Good Friday holiday to help soften the blow a bit. A 45% decline would give Paramount about $18M for the frame and a solid $61M after ten days.
Disney’s "Meet the Robinsons" also got off to a strong start last weekend, but will face stiff competition for families from both "Are We Done Yet?" and "Firehouse Dog." The 3D toon could slide 35% to around $16M for a ten-day cume of nearly $50M. The ultraviolent war film "300" may fall by 45% to $6M and lift its impressive haul to $190M. The worldwide tally should blast past $350M this weekend.
LAST YEAR: Still ranking number one with ease was the animated smash "Ice Age: The Meltdown" with $33.8M despite losing half of its opening weekend sales. Debuting in second was the Rob Schneider sports comedy "The Benchwarmers" with $19.7M on its way to $57.7M for Sony. New Line’s dance pic "Take the Lead" opened in third with $12.1M before finishing off with $34.7M. The Denzel Washington–Jodie Foster actioner "Inside Man" followed with $9.1M in its third heist. Rounding out the top five was another action thriller "Lucky Number Slevin" with a $7M bow on its way to $22.5M for The Weinstein Co. The Fox Searchlight comedy "Phat Girlz" flopped in ninth with just $3.1M before getting yanked with only $7.1M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Are you between the ages of 13 and 19? Do you like … stuff? Then click right here and cast your votes for the 329th annual Teen Choice Awards, which is where you can tell the universe that Puffy is more illing than Snoop Dogg, Will Ferrell is funnier than Brad Pitt, and Katie Holmes is cuter than Katey Sagal. Or something.
Click right here for the ballot, but don’t even think of voting if you’re older than 19. The Teen Choice Awards employ a bunch of enforcers who’ll come to your house and check your birth certificate.
I had to lie about my age to check out the nominees (don’t tell anyone), but the TCAs are poised to celebrate some of the following flicks:
Best Action Adventure: "King Kong," "Mission Impossible 3," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest," "Superman Returns," "V for Vendetta," "X-Men: The Last Stand"
They also have a bunch of actor’s categories, but the choices managed to somehow get even sillier. Click here to cast your votes, kids.
WeinsteinCo’s Scary Movie 4 made a huge pile of cash over the holiday weekend, demolishing Panic Room‘s $30 million Easter haul from a few years back. The silly sequel scared up an amazing $41 million from more than 3,600 screens — and yes, Scary Movie 5 will be hitting theaters at this time next year. (Shocker, eh?)
Still going pretty darn strong in second place was Fox’s Ice Age: The Meltdown, which added another $20 million to its (impressively) grand total of $147 million. Third place went to another returnee: Sony’s The Benchwarmers fell 49% to snag $10 million in its second weekend, giving it a total haul of about $36 million.
Disney’s unkindly-reviewed The Wild debuted in 4th place, pulling in just under $10 million from 2,800 theaters, while the dance-hall drama Take the Lead took the fifth spot with $6.7 million (and a $22.5 million total).
For a closer look at the weekend numbers, pop on over to the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.
Fox’s big-money cash cow Ice Age: The Meltdown reigned supreme for a second consecutive weekend at the box office, fending off a few newcomers who probably made a bit more money than they deserved. Playing on nearly 4,000 screens, Meltdown made another $34.5 million (!) over the weekend, upping its grand total to an icy cool $116.4 million.
Debuting in second-place was the unscreened-for-critics and therefore-probably-stinky Sony Benchwarmers, which fielded about $20.5 million from 3,300 theaters. Dancing along in third place was the Antonio Banderas ballroomer Take the Lead, which made $12.8 million from 3,000 theaters.
Hanging on in fourth place was Universal’s Inside Man, which added another $9.2 million to its $66.1 million bank vault, while fifth place went to WeinsteinCo newcomer Lucky Number Slevin, which debuted in 2,000 theaters to the tune of $7.1 million.
Fox Searchlight’s Phat Girlz debuted with sort of a thud, grossing about $3.1 million from just over a thousand theaters.
As always, the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page is open and awaiting your return.
This week at the movies, we explore the joys of dance ("Take the Lead"), mistaken identity ("Lucky Number Slevin"), our national pastime ("The Benchwarmers"), and the search for love ("Phat Girlz"). What do the critics say?
It’s a scenario Hollywood loves to ("Stand and") deliver: A tough-but-fair new teacher helps a ragtag bunch of teenage troublemakers learn to be better citizens and believe in themselves through a disciplined approach to basketball/martial arts/poetry/feng shui/tiddley winks, etc. Add ballroom dancing to the list. "Take the Lead" stars Antonio Banderas as a professional dancer whose old-school approach melds with the students’ hip-hop sensibilities. (If this sounds familiar, it’s because there was a documentary called "Mad Hot Ballroom" that told the same tale, albeit with elementary school kids, and uh, it was real.) Critics say the movie is fine, if a little shopworn; while the performances and dance numbers are stirring, we’ve kinda seen this one before. It’s currently at 45 percent on the Tomatometer.
From its inscrutable title to its labyrinthine plot, the scribes are pretty split on "Lucky Number Slevin." Is the screenplay smart? Yes, critics say. Too clever for its own good? Perhaps, they concede. Josh Hartnett stars as a regular dude who falls into a web of intrigue after a case of mistaken identity. The film has a stellar cast (Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Ben Kingsley) and a plot with more twists and turns than a marathon session of Chutes and Ladders. So, is "Lucky" any good? Depends on which critic you ask. At 55 percent on the Tomatometer, "Slevin" is either pulp heaven or an overplotted purgatory.
Like a utility infielder hitting well below the Mendoza line, "The Benchwarmers" probably deserves to ride the pine, since the scribes weren’t allowed to see it. And likewise, "Phat Girlz," which was also not screened for critics, is probably not all that, uh, phat. So kiddies, it’s time for our new national pastime: Guess the Tomatometer! The winner gets tickets to the World Series and a complete makeover. (Sorry, you only win props.)
Recent Antonio Banderas Movies:
26% — The Legend of Zorro (2005)
89% — Shrek 2 (2004)
44% — Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003)
68% — Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)
33% — Imagining Argentina (2003)
Silly Scrat and his "Ice Age" buddies have returned to the multiplexes … and the result was an absolutely mammoth opening weekend frame. Fox’s CG-animated sequel squeezed about $70.5 million from the first-weekend moviegoers, making "Ice Age: The Meltdown" the year’s first bona-fide box office bonanza. (By comparison, the original "Ice Age" made just over $46 million during its own opening weekend.)
Hanging on in second place was Spike Lee‘s bank heist thriller "Inside Man," which added an additional $15.7 million to its $52.8 million grand total. Debuting in third place was WB’s urban skating drama "ATL," which rolled to the tune of $12.5 million from 1,600 theaters.
Fourth and fifth place went to a pair of old pals: Paramount’s "Failure to Launch" exhibited some staying power, netting an additional $6.6 million ($73.2m total), and WB’s "V for Vendetta" commanded another $6.5 million ($56.8m total).
Two other newcomers fared … not as well. Universal’s strongly-reviewed "Slither" was able to scare up only $3.7 million from 1,900 theaters, while Sony’s "Basic Instinct 2" netted an anemic $3.2 million from 1,400.
Next weekend sees the release of four new wide titles: Sony’s sports slob-com "The Benchwarmers," MGM’s gangster flick "Lucky Number Slevin," Fox Searchlight’s "Phat Girlz," and New Line’s dance drama "Take the Lead."
For a closer look at the weekend numbers, head on over to the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page!
During an interview with MTV to promote his upcoming dance drama "Take the Lead," actor Antonio Banderas mentioned that he’s to start voice-recording for "Shrek 3" this week … and then he also dropped a few hints regarding his very own spin-off flick, which will be titled "Puss in Boots: The Story of an Ogre Killer."
From MTV: ""Tomorrow I’m going to do my first session of recording for him … The story and the recording of the ‘Shrek‘ [films] is very open. We improvise a lot, and many new things come [during] every session, and then they take all of that material and put it together with the animation."
It was this experimental, throw-everything-at-the-wall process that resulted in some of the best Puss moments in "Shrek 2," so the giddy Banderas was happy to clue us in on a few potential ideas: "We will have the [‘Puss in Boots’ spinoff] movie — it is interesting to do a movie only with the character — called ‘Puss in Boots: The Story of an Ogre Killer.’ It would be between the third and the fourth ‘Shrek.’ And in the fourth ‘Shrek,’ I think, I’m going to play two characters: I’m going to play Puss in Boots and his badass brother. So I will have to invent another voice for him.""
"Shrek the Third" is scheduled for a May 2007 release date. No word yet on when "Puss" or "Shrek 4" will hit the scene.
Want to see a movie about a dedicated teacher who, after much struggle and drama, manages to "connect" with a gruff group of inner-city schoolkids … through the magic of dance? Yes, it’s "Lean On Me" meets "Dirty Dancing" when Antonio Banderas shows up in "Take the Lead." Here’s the trailer.
Based on the life of ballroom dancer Pierre Dulane, "Lead" is about "a former professional dancer who volunteers to teach dance in the New York public school system. While his background first clashes with his students’ tastes, together they create a completely new style of dance."
"Take the Lead" doesn’t have a firm release date just yet, but expect it in the first quarter of 2006.