Action stars Jet Li and Jason Statham face off this weekend in the new crime thriller War which leads a flood of new releases pouring into North American multiplexes trying to catch the final dollars of the summer movie season. The R-rated Lionsgate release finds the two playing an assassin and a federal agent, respectively, and will aim for young male audiences. Both actors have solid followings and the combination allows War to offer a two-for-one deal that will make the ticket price well worth it for many fans.
Li’s last films Fearless and Unleashed each bowed to just under $11M with averages of a little less than $6,000. Statham’s Crank opened over Labor Day weekend last year with $10.5M and an average of $4,158 over three days while during the same holiday frame in 2005 his action sequel Transporter 2 debuted to $16.5M with a $5,008 average over three days. Lionsgate has had a strong marketing push on War and should connect with male action fans. Last weekend’s top three films Superbad, Rush Hour 3, and The Bourne Ultimatum will all provide some direct competition, but a solid bow is likely. Opening in 2,271 theaters, War could premiere with about $14M this weekend.
Rush Hour 3 will race past the $100M mark this weekend and could slide by 50% to around $10.5M. That would give New Line $107M after 17 days. Fellow threequel The Bourne Ultimatum should have a better hold and drop by 40% to roughly $12M putting the Universal smash at $185M overall with its eye on the double-century mark by Labor Day.
LAST YEAR: Buena Vista topped the charts with its football saga Invincible which bowed at number one with $17M on its way to a solid $57.8M. Will Ferrell‘s comedy Talladega Nights placed second with $8.1M while Little Miss Sunshine expanded and jumped up to third place with $7.4M. Warner Bros. opened its comedy Beerfest in fourth with $7M leading to a $19.2M final. World Trade Center rounded out the top five with $6.5M in its third frame. Two smaller films debuting far below were Universal’s Idlewild with $5.7M and New Line’s How to Eat Fried Worms with $4M. Final tallies reached $12.6M and $13M, respectively.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Moviegoers had football on their minds for the second straight weekend as Disney’s true-life NFL tale "Invincible" remained atop the North American box office over the long Labor Day holiday weekend finishing off another summer movie season. New releases "Crank" and "The Wicker Man" opened in second and third, respectively, while the critically acclaimed films "Little Miss Sunshine" and "The Illusionist" both scored strong per-theater averages in moderate release. The holiday frame marked the first weekend in six long months where no new film debuted with at least $15M. Hollywood was happy to close the books on a summer movie season that was slightly better than than last year’s.
Retaining its first-place position, Mark Wahlberg‘s "Invincible" grossed an estimated $15.2M over the four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday weekend and remained the most popular movie in North America. After 11 days of release, the feel-good drama about a 30-year-old bartender who earned a spot on the Philadelphia Eagles starting lineup has grossed a solid $37.8M and could be headed for the neighborhood of $60-70M.
It was only fitting that Disney topped the box office charts as the summer came to an end. Since the summer movie season kicked off on May 5 with "Mission: Impossible III," Buena Vista has grossed $786M at the multiplexes beating out all other studios. Disney’s success was powered by the summer’s two highest grossing hits, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" ($414.2M) and "Cars" ($242M), but also included surprise late-summer winners like "Invincible" and "Step Up." It was a drastic turnaround from last summer when the Mouse House’s biggest film was "Herbie: Fully Loaded" with $66M.
Opening in second place was action star Jason Statham‘s new thriller "Crank" with an estimated $13M over four days from 2,515 theaters. Averaging a commendable $5,169 per site, the R-rated film features a poisoned hitman who will die if he can’t keep his adrenaline up constantly. The Lionsgate release opened better than Statham’s 2002 film "The Transporter" ($9.1M in three days) but did not reach the $20.1M bow of his action sequel "Transporter 2" which ruled the Labor Day frame a year ago. That number one hit carried a commercially friendly PG-13 rating and kicked its way into 800 more theaters. Over the Friday-to-Sunday span, "Crank" grossed $10.3M and averaged $4,095.
Nicolas Cage opened his new suspense thriller "The Wicker Man" close behind in third place with an estimated $11.7M in ticket sales over the Friday-to-Monday holiday session. The Warner Bros. remake about a cop who investigates a missing girl averaged a mediocre $4,210 from 2,784 theatrs over four days. The PG-13 film grossed $9.6M in three days for a mild average of $3,448. Cage appeared twice in the top ten as his previous film "World Trade Center" finished further down in ninth place.
Two smaller films successfully expanding into national release followed and scored the best averages among all the wide releases. Fox Searchlight’s road comedy "Little Miss Sunshine" ranked fourth for the weekend with an estimated $9.7M over four days with $7.6M over the Friday-to-Sunday portion. It was the second weekend in a row that actor Greg Kinnear had two films in the top five. He plays a supporting role in "Invincible" as well. "Sunshine" averaged a strong $6,071 from 1,602 theaters over four days pushing its total to $35.8M and counting. At its current rate, it should eventually surpass "Miami Vice" as the top-grossing R-rated film to come out of the summer.
Rookie distributor Yari Film Group did an excellent job expanding its period mystery "The Illusionist" into national release and jumped into fifth place with an estimated four-day gross of $8M. Expanding from 144 to 971 theaters, the Edward Norton–Paul Giamatti drama scored the best average in the top ten with a sturdy $8,261 per venue. Cume now stands at $12.1M. The distributor scored excellent averages during its two weeks in limited release allowing positive word-of-mouth to spread for a film that was not easy to sell at a time when there were plenty of good choices for mature adults. Another 400 theaters will be added on Friday.
A trio of comedies followed. Sony’s Will Ferrell hit "Talladega Nights" grossed an estimated $7.7M over four days and lifted its cume to a stellar $138.4M making it the top-grossing comedy of the summer. Paramount’s animated pic "Barnyard" took in an estimated $6.4M pushing its total to $63.6M. The teen flick "Accepted" placed eighth and collected an estimated $5.9M giving Universal $29.4M to date.
Rounding out the top ten were the 9/11 drama "World Trade Center" with an estimated $5.8M over four days and the dance saga "Step Up" with $5.5M, according to estimates. Paramount’s Oliver Stone film has taken in a solid $63.7M thus far while Buena Vista’s surprise hit has taken in $58.4M.
Opening quietly outside of the top ten was the street basketball drama "Crossover" with an estimated $4.5M over four days from a moderate release in 1,023 theaters. Sony averaged a decent $4,399 over the long weekend on the $6M film which played mostly to a young urban audience.
Platforming to muscular numbers was the IFC Films doc "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" which grossed an estimated $42,000 from solo houses in New York and Los Angeles for a potent $20,832 average. The unrated expose that examines the ratings board of the MPAA will continue to expand throughout September.
Three films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. The raunchy comedy "Beerfest" tumbled to an estimated $4.6M over four days giving Warner Bros. only $14.8M in 11 days. A $20M final seems likely. Universal’s OutKast pic "Idlewild" took in an estimated $2.9M in its sophomore session giving the music-driven film only $9.9M in 11 days. Look for a $14M conclusion. New Line’s buzzworthy action-horror pic "Snakes on a Plane" has scared up just over $31M to date and is set to end with a final domestic gross close to its $35M production budget.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $89M over four days which was down 3% from last year when "Transporter 2" debuted at number one with $20.1M; but up 19% from 2004 when "Hero" remained in the top spot with $11.5M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
The summer movie season comes to an official end with the Labor Day holiday weekend unleashing three new releases plus the national expansion of a fourth.
Lionsgate offers the action crowd "Crank," Warner Bros. provides the suspense thriller "The Wicker Man," Sony takes a shot with the basketball drama "Crossover," and Yari Film Group goes nationwide with its period thriller "The Illusionist." Each is hoping that current champ "Invincible" will fumble the ball. The summer-ending frame is often a time when moviegoers catch up on hit films they haven’t seen yet so notable holdovers could see their four-day grosses grow beyond their three-day takes from last weekend. Overall, the marketplace remains overcrowded with too many films fighting to get a slice of the box office pie.
British action star Jason Statham attacks the U.S. for the second Labor Day weekend in a row with his latest pic "Crank." Co-starring Amy Smart, the Lionsgate release sees the actor playing a poisoned hitman who must keep his adrenaline up in order to stay alive. Unlike his PG-13 "Transporter" flicks, "Crank" carries a more restrictive R rating which could narrow its target audience. It’s been a tough summer for R-rated action films with movies like "Snakes on a Plane" and "Miami Vice" both underperforming. But if there’s any distributor who can successfully target young adult males with these types of films with intriguing concepts, it’s the "Saw" studio.
"Snakes" was the only pure action film in the top ten last weekend so competition for "Crank" may not be too fierce. Statham has seen his starpower grow in the last couple of years and that might benefit his latest pic too. Still, the marquees are jam packed with choices this weekend so it will be tough to fight off other films and convince moviegoers that their time and money should be best spent here. A year ago this weekend, "Transporter 2" opened at number one with a four-day tally of $20.1M. However, that Fox pic was a sequel, had a less restrictive rating, and bowed in 900 more theaters. Given "Crank’s" debut in about 2,400 locations, it could end up with around $13M over the long Friday-to-Monday period.
With his twin towers drama still in the top ten, Nicolas Cage hits the big screen for the second time in a month with the psychological thriller "The Wicker Man." The PG-13 film stars the Oscar-winning actor as a cop investigating a cult while looking for a missing girl. Labor Day weekend has been a good time for creepy thrillers, especially for ones that appeal to high school and college students like the "Jeepers Creepers" pics. "Wicker Man’s" rating will help its cause, but whether it can excite teens will determine how big it can become. With a half-dozen production companies, six producers, and seven executive producers all involved, it’s hard to say if this is really director Neil LaBute‘s film. Warner Bros. has given "Wicker" a decent marketing push, but it has not become a must-see thriller. A marketplace flooded with pictures will provide plenty of competition for adults and this one will have to work extra hard to stand out in the crowd. Ending a disappointing summer for the studio, "The Wicker Man" bows in over 2,500 theaters and could scare up around $12M over the four-day period.
Sony goes after the urban youth audience with its new basketball drama "Crossover" which finds two young streetballers competing in the world of underground hoops. The PG-13 film is getting a moderate release in 1,023 theaters which will limit its potential, however a solid per-theater average could result. Compared to reigning box office champ "Invincible," this new sports drama will attract a much more ethnic audience and should play primarily to teens and young adults. "Idlewild" will provide some competition for African American moviegoers, however the OutKast pic is playing to an older audience. With Anthony Mackie, Wesley Jonathan, and Wayne Brady heading up the cast, "Crossover" does not offer up much starpower. But it could be a short-term choice for the back-to-school crowd in urban markets. Over the Friday-to-Monday holiday span, "Crossover" might shoot up about $5M.
After two weeks of strong results in limited release, the period mystery "The Illusionist" expands wide from 144 theaters to approximately 1,000 sites across North America. One of the summer’s best-reviewed films, the Edward Norton–Paul Giamatti drama opened in 51 theaters with a powerful $18,195 average and widened on its second frame scoring a still-potent $12,745 average. Glowing praise from critics and solid word-of-mouth could help sell "The Illusionist" to moviegoers who would not ordinarily buy tickets to a film with these stars. Competition will be tough, though. For only the second time all year, ten films surpassed $5M last weekend and most are looking to remain relevant over the holiday session. "The Illusionist" could capture the same amount over four days this weekend pushing its cume to about $9M.
More new movies enter into limited release on Friday. IFC Films unveils the documentary "This Film is Not Yet Rated" in exclusive engagements in New York and Los Angeles. The unrated film (it was given an NC-17, but is going out with no official rating) explores the mystery behind the movie ratings system as determined by the Motion Picture Association of America. Writer/director Ed Burns returns to theaters as a private investigator searching for a missing woman in "Looking for Kitty." The R-rated drama is being released in one solo New York house by ThinkFilm.
Last weekend, Mark Wahlberg‘s football drama "Invincible" scored a number one opening and was the only film to attract more than $10M in ticket sales over the frame. Word of mouth has been good and the Disney release would like nothing more than to land another win over the holiday session. The four-day gross might see only a small drop from last weekend’s three-day bow. A decline to about $15M would give "Invincible" a total of $38M after 11 days.
Labor Day weekend has historically been a great time for hot late-summer indie films to reach out to broader audiences and "Little Miss Sunshine" hopes to be the latest one to capitalize on its buzz. Four-day increases over the previous three-day weekends in recent years have included 17% for "March of the Penguins" last year, 35% for "Garden State" in 2004, 80% for "Napoleon Dynamite" that same year, and a whopping 104% for "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" in 2002. That PG-rated blockbuster added about 300 theaters over the holiday frame while the R-rated "Sunshine" will only increase its current count of 1,430 by a hundred or so. The Fox Searchlight hit could charm about $9.5M from ticket buyers over the long weekend and boost its cume to $36M.
LAST YEAR Jason Statham ruled the Labor Day weekend box office with the number one opening of his action sequel "Transporter 2" which grossed $20.1M over four days. The Fox hit went on to collect $43.1M. The comedy sensation "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" slipped to second place with $16.5M over four days displaying another great hold in its third frame. Debuting in third with $11M was the thriller "The Constant Gardener" from Focus which went on to gross $33.6M and become a major awards contender. Rounding out the top five were the DreamWorks suspense flick "Red Eye" with $9.4M and Miramax’s adventure pic "The Brothers Grimm" with $9M. Two new films opened with weak results outside of the top ten. Miramax’s "Underclassman" bowed to $3.1M on its way to $5.7M while Warner Bros. took in just $1.2M for "A Sound of Thunder" leading to only a $1.9M final.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Football season was back in swing at the North American box office this weekend as Disney’s real-life pigskin drama "Invincible" scored a number-one opening by more than doubling the ticket sales of its nearest competitor. The rest of the films in the top ten were packed into a tight range and were separated by a mere $2.6M meaning chart positions could change when final numbers are released on Monday. The frame’s other newcomers — the raunchy comedy "Beerfest," the music-driven drama "Idlewild," and the kidpic "How to Eat Fried Worms" — all generated more modest grosses in their debuts. Overall, the marketplace slumped to levels typical of the last weekend of August.
Mark Wahlberg was the most valuable player this weekend as his new football pic "Invincible" easily beat all foes and grossed an estimated $17M over the weekend finishing in first place. Averaging a solid $5,838 from 2,917 theaters, the PG-rated pic tells the true story of a 30-year-old bartender who landed a spot on the roster of the Philadelphia Eagles. Disney set up a sizable marketing campaign with the NFL promoting "Invincible" during the current pre-season and it seemed to have paid off handsomely. Reviews were generally favorable for the feel-good drama.
Sony’s hit NASCAR comedy "Talladega Nights" stayed put in second place again with an estimated $8M in its fourth lap. The Will Ferrell smash dropped 42% and upped its cume to $127.7M making it the summer’s second biggest comedy.to date after Adam Sandler’s "Click" ($136M) which was also a Sony release. "Talladega" could race past "Click" by Labor Day.
Making its way up to the number three position was Fox Searchlight’s hit road comedy "Little Miss Sunshine" which more than doubled its theater count and grossed an estimated $7.5M from 1,430 sites. The R-rated pic averaged a solid $5,245 and boosted its cume to $23M. "Sunshine" has steadily grown over the past month into a pop culture phenomenon becoming the "it" movie of the moment and looks certain to charm its way past the $50M mark domestically in the weeks ahead.
Another R-rated laugher followed in fourth. The new Warner Bros. comedy "Beerfest" debuted with an estimated $6.5M from 2,964 playdates for a mild $2,193 average. The Broken Lizard concoction opened much like the comedy troupe’s 2002 hit "Super Troopers" which bowed to $6.2M over three days on its way to $18.5M. "Beerfest" tells of a group of American beer chuggers who must train and compete in a secret drinking tournament in Germany.
Yet another comedy followed with a similar estimate of $6.5M in ticket sales. Universal’s "Accepted" dropped only 35% and upped its ten-day total to a respectable $21.1M. Fellow sophomore "Snakes on a Plane" was an inch behind with an estimated $6.4M tumbling 58% in its second weekend. Total stands at $26.6M. Final grosses look to reach $36-39M each.
Universal’s music-filled drama "Idlewild" bowed in ninth place but generated the best average in the top ten. The OutKast pic grossed an estimated $5.9M from only 973 locations for a solid $6,055 average. Studio research showed that 55% of the audience was over age 30, 61% was female, and 82% was African American.
Rounding out the top ten was Paramount’s animated comedy "Barnyard" with an estimated $5.4M in its fourth weekend. Down only 28%, the PG-rated toon has taken in an encouraging $54.7M to date.
Debuting poorly just outside the top ten was New Line’s kidpic "How to Eat Fried Worms" with an estimated $4M from 1,870 sites for an average of only $2,112 per theater. Yari Film Group widened its period mystery "The Illusionist" and grossed an estimated $1.8M from just 144 theaters for a strong $12,688 per venue. Cume is $3.2M and the Edward Norton–Paul Giamatti drama will go national on Friday.
Three films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. The summer juggernaut "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" enjoyed a seven-week run in the top ten, but dipped to an estimated $4M this weekend for a slim decline of only 23%. With a colossal $407.6M from North America alone, the Johnny Depp adventure surpassed "Spider-Man" ($403.7M in 2002) to claim the number six spot on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters. Chest looks to reach about $420M stateside. Worldwide, the "Pirates" sequel is closing in on an astounding one billion dollars in global box office.
The teen comedy "Material Girls" starring Hilary and Haylie Duff dropped by 50% to an estimated $2.3M in its sophomore session. The MGM title has collected just $8.5M in ten days and should end up with around $13M before finding a bigger audience on DVD. The horror flick "Pulse" grossed an estimated $1.7M, down 53%, for a total of $17.9M. A final tally of about $21M could result.
ThinkFilm’s drug-addicted teacher drama "Half Nelson" expanded from three to 21 theaters and grossed an estimated $210,000 for a strong $10,000 average. Cume is now $389,000. Fox Searchlight’s relationship film "Trust the Man" did not have as much luck during its expansion. The David Duchovny–Julianne Moore pic grossed an estimated $285,000 from 158 sites (up from 38 last weekend) and averaged a poor $1,804. Total is $541,000 with another widening up to 300 theaters set for Friday.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $75.8M which was off 2% from last year when "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" remained at number one with $16.3M; and down 4% from 2004 when "Hero" opened in the top spot with $18M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week at the movies, we’ve got four underdog stories. An average Joe tries to play pro football ("Invincible," starring Mark Wahlberg), the new kid in school tries to ward off bullies by consuming soft-bodied invertebrates ("How to Eat Fried Worms"), a ragtag bunch tries to win an international keg-tapping contest ("Beerfest," starring Broken Lizard), and two struggling 1930s musicians try for a big break ("Idlewild," starring Outkast). What do the critics have to say?
Pity the poor Philly football fan. Despite some recent success, the Eagles haven’t had a championship season since 1960. I’ll bet a lot of residents of the City of Brotherly Love think they could do better themselves. Well, "Invincible" tells the true story of a guy who felt that way… and was right. Mark Wahlberg stars as an over-the-hill substitute teacher and bartender who shows up at an open tryout and wows coach Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear) with his speed and skills despite never playing ball in college. The critics say what could have been another clichéd sports drama is elevated by strong performances by Wahlberg and Kinnear, as well as a palpable sense of time and place. "Invincible" is at 74 percent on the Tomatometer.
Despite a title that conjures images of a pre-teen "Fear Factor," the critics say "How to Eat Fried Worms" is actually quite tame — or quaint — compared with much of contemporary family fare. Although its youthful cast contribute solid performances, the critics say "Worms" doesn’t quite live up to the standard set by the classic children’s book of the same name. Still, they also say the film is good-natured fun for the kids. At 61 percent on the Tomatometer, "Worms" is a reasonably appetizing item on the cinematic menu.
Those Broken Lizard folks are at it again, with another gleefully juvenile movie that should appeal to their cult audience while confounding the critics. Sort of like "Dodgeball" for the pub set, "Beerfest" tells the tale of a group of misfits who take on the world in an international beer drinking contest. While critics concede that there are more than a few moments of boozy, tasteless fun, they also say the film, at 111 minutes, is a little too hit and miss to justify its running time. At 51 percent on the Tomatometer, "Beerfest" is a little too sudsy. Still, it’s the best reviewed Broken Lizard film, beating "Super Troopers," which scored 36 percent.
"Beerfest": More subtle, sophisticated humor from Broken Lizard
Ain’t nobody dope as Outkast — in the studio. The silver screen may be a different matter. Big Boi and Andre 3000 bring their Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik to a story set in the Depression era south in "Idlewild." Critics say that with the musical scenes, the cast are the type of people make the club get crunk. But, ah ha, what’s that fuss, then? Well, the scribes say there’s too little of Outkast’s power music electric revival, and the plot gets bogged down in clichés. At 52 percent on the Tomatometer, critics don’t love the way "Idlewild" moves — but don’t hate it either.
Also in theaters this week in limited release: "Old Joy," an exploration of friendship starring indie darling Will Oldham, is at 100 percent; "LOL," a no-budget tale of hipsters and technology, is at 100 percent; "Princesas," a story of friendship between prostitutes in Madrid, is at 70 percent; "Rolling Family," sort of like an Argentine "Little Miss Sunshine," is at 63 percent; the Spanish sex comedy "Queens" is at 57 percent; and the Elisha Cuthbert/ Camilla Belle psychological thriller "The Quiet" is at 27 percent.